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What happens when researchers and artists get together?

Picture a world where science and art live in exquisite harmony. Where scholarly articles become 3D sculptures, scientific presentations become powerful stories and data sounds like poetry.

This a world where art is used to translate the complex into the relatable, making health research more accessible to a wider audience.

Art is a vehicle for ensuring critical discoveries reach more people outside the medical research sphere. People who will either benefit from such findings or shape policy in relation to them.

Known as Arts-Based Knowledge Translation, it’s a method that Maridulu Budyari Gumal has adopted to share its growing body of work.

Katherine Boydell, Director of the Knowledge Translation Strategic Platform at Maridul Budyari Gumal, is bringing this exciting new initiative to life.

She has been working with installation artists around Sydney, to explore different art forms that will best showcase the partnership’s work and impact.

Maridulu Budyari Gumal is thrilled to have Katherine on board and intrigued to see how this platform changes the way healthcare thinks about knowledge translation.

Creating pockets of brilliance

Using art to translate knowledge is a new platform, but it’s gaining palpable momentum at Maridulu Budyari Gumal. Katherine has been involved in co-creating a major piece for our 2019 International Symposium called ‘The Hive’.

“The Hive is a series of hexagonal rooms or spaces that the audience can engage with and move through. Each space will showcase a pocket of brilliance from the partnership.”

Katherine is working with stakeholders to identify top stories, research findings, ways of working or new methods that can be communicated at the event. These will be brought to life through film, poetry, visual expression, storytelling or sculpture.

Connect people to the unfamiliar

Research and scientific data is notoriously difficult to understand. Scholarly articles and science presentations don’t always reach the people who need to know about them. If they do, they’re not always accessible and can be written in a language few understand.

Yet this type of work is critical to delivering innovations in healthcare. Using art to translate this important work will ensure it reaches the people that most need to hear it.

It connects people to the unfamiliar language of science - often in a way that no other medium can.

Using art to create social change

Through Katherine’s work with the Black Dog Institute, she has been able to reach thousands of people she might not have been able to without art.

“I think it brings out people who wouldn’t necessarily engage with mental health research, for example. Or who wouldn’t attend an art gallery or museum” Katherine says of the events she has organised in the past.

Holding interactive events, art installations, or film viewings makes difficult content more available to the general public. It helps bring important messages into the community – not just in Australia, but around the world.

Engage people in the conversation

It’s no good using art for art’s sake. It needs to communicate a message. Change a mind. Inspire conversation. Have impact.

A key focus of Katherine’s work involves measuring the impacts of an event or a festival. Using art to translate knowledge, she wants to know how people feel. What they learned. What they did because of the engagement. Whether art influenced how memorable the event was.

Measuring the impact of her work helps Katherine design social spaces that really encourage conversation around important topics.

Reduce stigma around health issues

There are certain health issues that people prefer to avoid. Prostate and bowel health. Mental health. Reproductive health. Sensitivity around these issues results in large numbers of people choosing not to seek help.

These mindsets create huge barriers to optimal health.

Katherine is particularly interested in using art to engage people in more positive ways around difficult issues. She hopes to break the stigma around sensitive, but serious illness, and encourage more people to seek help before an issue reaches crisis level.

Bring healthcare to life

The Australian health system is disconnected. Arts based knowledge translation can change this. It can bring researchers, clinicians, academics, policy-makers, consumers and the community together around important topics. It can empower, uplift, engage and normalise – making healthcare everyone’s responsibility.

Talking about her ideas for knowledge translation at Maridulu Budyari Gumal, Katherine feels “it’s important to conceptualise the partnership’s impact beyond the numbers. To show the importance it places on narrative, on story, on visuals, on thought.”

Her work will be used as a mechanism for recalling important information. It will engage people around knowledge translation and inspire them to share knowledge in new and creative ways.

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