Collaboration Between Artists And Health-Care Leaders Teaches

New artworks created by artists and health-care professionals that reflect the impact of COVID-19 on health systems and people working in them are part of a new project.

Topsy Turvy is the culmination of this collaboration. It is an interactive digital exhibition create by Maridulu Budyari Gumal SPHERE, the Knowledge Translation Strategic Platform. This interactive digital exhibit has the purpose of changing the future of healthcare.

Topsy Turvy generates random combinations of images from a collection of drawings and text that are inspire by COVID-19 experiences. You can choose to keep, delete or resize your image until you feel it resonates with you.

Topsy Turvy was create by 15 SPHERE leaders who share their thoughts, images, and songs about working in and with the healthcare system during the 2020 COVID-19 wave. These contributions provided a rich array of imagery and text, from recording a Dylan-esque track to making a meditative movie about dragonflies hovering over a lake.

Topsy Turvy was designed to help people translate COVID-19’s diverse experiences through drawing, text and sound. These elements were transformed into an interactive digital platform that allows people to create their own visual expressions.

Artists In Health

In both the health-care and arts sectors, creative responses to well-being and health are increasing. Arts-based methods allow people to communicate, connect and share information about important social and health issues. The arts can help you explore and communicate difficult experiences such as emotional or physical pain. These projects are also able to engage diverse populations, foster empathy, and address inequalities.

Collaborative Storytelling Artists

Topsy Turvy was the creative director and artist (and one of its authors), Barbara Doran. Artist Annie McKinnon, Peter Maple, Anton Pulvirenti and Peter Maple used stories from health-care leaders to create an interactive digital environment that allowed audiences to create their COVID-19 collage. The platform allows audiences to reinterpret the contributions of the leaders and tell their own stories.

Peter Maple explained how words and photographs can suggest feelings, rhythms, and dominant moods. Anton views drawing as an act that he listens to the storiestellers and looks for common themes. Annie McKinnon designed this interactive digital exhibit to be akin a live concert where people can make and share experiences.

These leaders are the heads of large teams in health-care organizations. Peter Joseph, Chairman of the Black Dog Institute took up winter ocean swim as a COVID-19 new activity. He shared a photo of six winter ocean swimmers for the Topsy Turvy exhibit. He wrote:

Eyes Open And Consider

COVID required us to keep our eyes open and consider what is most important, and not be influenced by the circumstances. I have learned to be more open-minded and expansive. Understanding that we are small and only here for a very short time in the grand scheme, has helped me realize how important it is to remain open-minded and flexible.

Amanda Larkin, Chief Executive of South Western Sydney’s Local Health District, was a COVID-19 hotspot. She celebrated the power and potential of collaboration on a large-scale and the positive changes that could be made. Kate McGrath, University of Technology Sydney, said that in research, education, and industry, imaginary, self-created, and unsustainable divisions between institutions and disciplines disappear when confronted with this level of disruption.

Les Bokey, Western Sydney University Professor of Surgery and Clinical Dean, spoke about his very rapid adaptation to a different environment. This involved changing operating rooms to only deal with category 1 and emergency patients. He note that it was a year to be remember, not forgotten.

In 2021, Be Creative Artists

Mark Parsons is the executive director of SPHERE. It is not surprising that themes will continue to be popular in 2021. Our health systems have faced enormous challenges due to the COVID-19 situation in Sydney. Sometimes the existing systems aren’t capable of reaching impacted communities quickly. To be able respond more effectively, we need to think creatively.

New collages and reflections share since the opening of the exhibition. Katrina Moore is a Program and Community Manager at University of Technology Sydney. She was inspire by the interaction with Topsy Turvy.