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Hubbub in modern life explored as new £1million Wellcome Collection residency begins

7 October 2014

The urge to be busy defines modern life. Rest can seem hard to find, whether in relation to an exhausted body, a racing mind or a hectic city. Should we slow down, or should we embrace intense activity? What effects do each of these states have on the health of our bodies and minds? A new research group called Hubbub have taken residence at Wellcome Collection and are bringing together scientists, humanists, artists, clinicians, public health experts, broadcasters and public engagement professionals to breathe new life into the questions we ask about rest and busyness.

The group are the first occupants of a new dedicated space, The Hub at Wellcome Collection, designed to house two-year long interdisciplinary projects exploring medicine, health and wellbeing. A core team of five, led by social scientist Felicity Callard (Durham University), have been awarded a £1million grant and will work with over 40 partners of rich variety to explore the dynamics of rest, tumult, activity and work, as they operate in mental health, neuroscience, the arts and everyday life. Other core members are psychologist and writer Charles Fernyhough (Durham University), broadcaster Claudia Hammond (BBC's All in the Mind and Health Check), neuroscientist Daniel Margulies (Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences) and poet James Wilkes (Durham University).

Hubbub will have freedom to explore and develop research and public outputs over their residency, staging experiments, exhibitions, events and broadcasts. It is hoped that the use of different modes of investigation will produce a novel archive about rest and activity in early twenty-first century city life, and offer unexpected avenues for academic and creative inquiry, clinical practice and public policy. A core cohort of London participants will be recruited during the residency to help study different cultures of rest, with investigations crossing the arts, psychology, neuroscience and the social sciences.

Partners from diverse specialisms will explore how divisions between the ‘resting’ and ‘non-resting’ mind and body are understood and lived at different historical moments and by different kinds of people. The group will examine the many attempts to map activity, noise, clamour and silence across space at different scales, from cartography to self-monitoring to brain mapping, and interrogate different methods and data sets, entangling micro-scale geometric data on city noise, ‘noisy’ brain data and artistic mappings of sound and silence.

Details of all the Hubbub contributors can be found at www.hubbubgroup.org

Felicity Callard, Hubbub group leader, says: “It is a great honour to have been selected as the first residents of this flagship space for interdisciplinary research. The Hub offers a unique opportunity to be experimental in all senses of the word – and we are enormously excited at the thought of bringing new ideas and things into the world through entangling the experimental practices of artists, scientists, humanists, public engagement professionals and, indeed, of diverse Londoners. The search for rest in a world of tumult, busyness and noise preoccupies many of us. Our two years in The Hub will allow us the space and time both to investigate this common, but complex, desire and to uncover the multiple ways in which people find – or don’t find – ways of satisfying it.”

Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes at Wellcome Collection, says: “Hubbub promises a thrilling commingling of creative minds, of thinkers and makers. It’s a collaborative project of dizzying variety in search of answers to questions that are pressing to all of us caught up within the tumult of modern life. We have established the Hub as part of an expanded Wellcome Collection to foster unexpected and original research and activity and we look forward to being surprised and enriched by the work Felicity Callard and her group will nurture during their residency.”

Hubbub are residents of the Hub at Wellcome Collection between October 2014 and July 2016

Media contacts

Tim Morley
Senior Media Officer, Wellcome Collection
T 020 7611 8612
E t.morley@wellcome.ac.uk

Emily Philippou
Media Officer, The Wellcome Trust
T 020 7611 8726
E e.philippou@wellcome.ac.uk

Notes to editors

Hubbub are an international team of scientists, humanists, artists, clinicians, public health experts, broadcasters and public engagement professionals. We explore the dynamics of rest, noise, tumult, activity and work, as they operate in mental health, neuroscience, the arts and the everyday. We are based in London as the first residents of The Hub at Wellcome Collection.

The Hub at Wellcome Collection is a new dedicated space and resource for interdisciplinary projects exploring medicine, health and wellbeing. The Hub will provide resources and a stimulating venue for researchers and other creative minds to collaborate on projects that explore medicine in historical and cultural contexts. Residencies will carry an allowance of £1million and cover two academic years, encouraging outputs that generate new insights, new forms of engagement, new methodologies and new interventions.

Wellcome Collection is the free visitor destination for the incurably curious. Located at 183 Euston Road, London, the venue explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. The building comprises gallery spaces, a public events programme, the Wellcome Library, café, bookshop, conference facilities and a members' club.  Wellcome Collection is growing. A £17.5million development will deliver new galleries and spaces in autumn 2014. Find out more at www.wellcomecollection.org/curious

Wellcome Collection is part of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust’s breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.

Core members of Hubbub

Felicity Callard is a geographer and historian of psychiatry and cognitive neuroscience. She is Reader in the Department of Geography and Centre for Medical Humanities at Durham University and Visiting Researcher at King’s College London, Institute of Psychiatry. She is currently conducting interdisciplinary research with neuroscientists and psychologists on the ‘resting state’ in cognitive neuroscience (where the brain and mind are not responding to an explicit task). Felicity is Chair of the Board of the Mental Disability Advocacy Center, an international human rights organization that advances the rights of people with intellectual disabilities and mental health problems.

Charles Fernyhough is a psychologist and writer. His recent academic work has focused on how humanities and scientific perspectives can be integrated in the study of human experience. He is a Professor of Psychology at Durham University, where he directs the interdisciplinary Hearing the Voice project (supported by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award). He is active in outreach and public engagement work, with regular contributions to mainstream media. His non-fiction books include The Baby in the Mirror (Granta, 2008) and Pieces of Light (Profile, 2012). He is the author of two novels: The Auctioneer (Fourth Estate, 1999) and A Box of Birds (Unbound, 2013).

Claudia Hammond is an award-winning broadcaster, writer and psychology lecturer. She is the presenter of All in the Mind and Mind Changers on BBC Radio 4 and Health Check on BBC World Service Radio and BBC World News TV and will continue to broadcast during the residency. She is a columnist for BBC.com and regularly appears on Impact on BBC World News to discuss research in psychology. Claudia is on the part-time faculty at Boston University's London base. She is the author of Emotional Rollercoaster: a Journey Through the Science of Feelings and Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception, published by Canongate.

Daniel Margulies is a neuroscientist with interests in investigating how brain activity at rest can be used to understand its organisation. He leads the Max Planck Research Group for Neuroanatomy & Connectivity at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. His research also addresses challenges in the visualisation of complex network data, and he collaborates with social scientists and historians on questions of the emergence of contemporary controversies in neuroscience. He is co-founder of the Neuro Bureau, an organisation dedicated to facilitating collaboration and open sharing of data and software across the neurosciences, arts, and related disciplines.

James Wilkes is a poet, writer and researcher, who has collaborated widely with scientists, artists and musicians to investigate topics such as brain imaging, speech, radio and landscape. His books include Weather A System (Penned in the Margins, 2009), Reviews (Veer, 2009) and A Fractured Landscape of Modernity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). His residency as a poet with the Speech Communication Lab at UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience resulted in new poems and critical reflections, live and radio conversations between scientists, writers and artists, and a symposium at the Science Museum's Dana Centre. He is currently a Senior Researcher at Durham University.