Pain is subjective and very difficult to communicate or share. Feeling misunderstood and
not believed is a frequent sentiment expressed by those who live with pain. During this
visualising pain workshop we will try to give visual and verbal form to pain to make it
more sharable and understandable to others. We will explore the experiences of those
with different relationships to pain including people with pain, their carers, families and
healthcare professionals. It is important to us that clinicians as well as patients and carers
attend these events. The workshop aims to create a space where we can share our different
perspectives and learn from each other. Nothing is wrong, nothing is right, all that matters
is capturing the truth of each person’s experience.
The session will include a range of activities such as short writing exercises, mind-mapping,
mark-making, painting, working with mixed media and photographing. You do not need to
have any experience of art, photography or writing, you just need to come with an open
mind and be prepared to have a go. You are invited to bring an object with you that can
act as a starting point for a series of photographs which express your relationship to pain
or of treating those in pain and how release from that pain might feel.
The workshop builds on previous work carried out by Deborah Padfield at St Thomas’
and University College Hospitals London (UK) co-creating photographs which represent
people’s unique experience of pain and running art workshops and events for patients and
clinicians to attend together.*
A selection of images from both hospitals have been integrated to form a pack of large
playing cards with images on them (PAIN CARDS) and piloted in real pain consultations
where other patients found them helpful in improving communication and rapport between
themselves and their doctor.
This unique workshop is part of a new pilot project where Deborah will be joined by
participatory methods and disability specialist Dr Mary Wickenden (Sussex University, UK)
in collaboration with Dr Satendra Singh, India’s foremost expert in medical humanities and
participatory creative practices (UCMS, Delhi), Dr Anubha Mahajan, the founder of Chronic
Pain India, India’s only pain survivor network, (Delhi, India) and international artist Himani
Gupta (Delhi, India) supported by artist and facilitator Mariana Gomes Gonçalves (alumni
Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, UK).
The workshop is part of a knowledge exchange project, funded by HEIF, UK to capture the
experiences of people from both the UK and India with a range of perspectives on pain and
explore what, across two cultures and as people with diverse relationships to pain, we can
learn from each other. If you take part in the workshop you will be helping us create material
on which we can build to develop a larger project offered to more people and on a larger
scale in India, the UK and beyond.
Please remember to bring an object with you that has some quality that relates to your pain,
for example it may have a colour, texture, surface, association, symbolism etc that you
associate with pain. Please also bring a signed version of the consent form attached to this
letter with you (copies will also be available on the day).
Please contact Anubha Mahajan if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to meeting you on the 5th May and hope that you will also be able to
attend an event on 10th May. Here we will celebrate what we have created and learned
together and share these with a wider group of people as a beginning of raising awareness
of chronic pain and its impact on people’s lives. We would like to thank you in advance for
your time and your commitment. Thank you.
NB: Please note that the workshop will start promptly on time. Refreshments and lunch will be
provided. Travel costs to and from the venue will be reimbursed.
The face2face project on which this workshop builds received ethics approval from the Royal
Marsden Ethics Committee MREC: 09/H0801/51
* for further information see: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/encountering-pain/past-projects