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Beyond the gallery: The human foot as masterpiece of engineering, a work of art and window on our health

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In this article, I want to examine the origins of my research, how the research process developed into an experiment of sorts, reflecting on that process and citing it as a potential hybridized form of cultural health interactive art exhibition event, focussing on the feet as they relate to health and well-being for public health engagement. In creating this unique live event, I wanted to interrogate, whether a cultural health intervention in an art gallery, can provide an alternative means to generate and promote public health awareness of self-preventive health care for self-help, wellness and well-being. I will discuss the feasibility of this type of health intervention, arguing that there is a need for these types of interventions to improve health through art, which can respond to local need within a community and bring about behaviour change. I will explore how art can cause us to reflect on health, to understand how feet can have pressure points that affect well-being, and how art can enable people to reflect on health images and think about their own self-care and lifestyle choices. I will analyse how the human foot as masterpiece of engineering and art experience can affect people’s health, and whether those participating in the interactive art exhibition event engaged in better foot care after viewing the art. Thus, in terms of health literacy, health care innovation and exchange, whether the participants in the event are enabled to think further about foot care, health conditions in relation to reflexology, and to feel motivated to change their behaviour? I consider whether the dialogue that ensues among viewers in the gallery space plays a contributing role to illness prevention, health promotion and how the self-care of feet may contribute to a sense of wellness and well-being. My thesis is that the art gallery event serves both as an artistic and a health promotion endeavour, demonstrated through the narratives of photography and interactive art. The liveness and performativity of the event (with two reflexologists present to conduct mini-taster sessions of individual client assessment during the exhibition) raises questions of how to evaluate the interaction and how to analyse the practical implications of the ideas that the exhibition is advancing. I consider the experiment from the perspective of both the academic and the complementary health therapist, particularly in relation to my role as a Senior Research Fellow at Nottingham Trent University, UK in the Narrative & Interactive Arts Department in the School of Art and Design, and in my role as a Reflexologist in private practice.
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Keywords: cultural health intervention; cultural heritage; integrated health; interactive arts; photography; preventive health; self-care; well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Nottingham Trent University

Publication date: July 1, 2013

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  • Scene is dedicated to a critical examination of space and scenic production. The journal provides an opportunity for dynamic debate, reflection and criticism. With a strong interdisciplinary focus, we welcome articles, interviews, visual essays, reports from conferences and festivals. We want to explore new critical frameworks for the scholarship of creating a scene.
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