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Title: Drawing on the nature of empathy
Author: Hodgson-Teall, Angela
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 2173
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2014
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My research investigated the impact of introducing structured drawing activities to staff of a mixed ethnicity hospital community in south–east London, to address the question of whether drawing was a useful tool in the practice of empathy. Empathy, ‘putting oneself in the shoes of another’was examined critically through drawing as practice, conducted within the hospital environment. This research coincided with a period of major change for the hospital Trust, which had low staff and patient satisfaction and poor financial performance when the research began in autumn 2006. The long-term nature of my collaborative doctoral research enabled me to slowly expand the boundary of what was acceptable arts practice in a healthcare context, while ensuring that the‘dangerous’ practice of empathy was worked through via art practice in such a way that these dangers were encountered, analysed and understood. The research project focused on the benefits (and complications) of drawing within the hospital community, during a time of immense turmoil. Drawing was used to aid investigations, sustain the craft skills of medicine, explore emotions and thoughts, and ground and focus staff in empathic therapeutic interventions. These interventions allowed staff to slow down, play, analyse and reflect, creating a space within the context of the hospital, where the practice of empathy was reviewed. The work used dialogue between the dual practices of art and medicine to explore complex intersubjective communication. The core practice, drawing, was embedded in a longitudinal study of drawing events based in the same hospitals at yearly intervals since 2007, so that a similar body of staff had the opportunity to participate in these collaborative events. Using cross-sectional surveys centred on the Big Draw(Campaign for Drawing, 2000) I set up a series of encounters including interactive drawing events,lectures, performances and exhibitions, and participated in drawing conferences within the Trust,galleries and art colleges nationally and in the USA. Smaller scale investigations of individual practice over the same period of time, in venues for both the visual arts and music, complemented the main studies and allowed a triangulation of theory, methodology and data, bringing a number of methods to bear upon the question of whether drawing was a useful tool in the practice of empathy in hospital environments. At the core of my research is a definition of a practice of empathy based on my work in the research activities. The elucidation of a set of features, pertaining to the practice of empathy, has been defined by these events. My definition of empathy was constructed by building temporary collaborative communities during these events through which the dynamics of empathy were examined and its features analysed. In my research, art practice emerges as methodologically important to the proper understanding of the problems, dangers and opportunities of empathy in clinical practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Drawing ; Creative Arts and Design not elsewhere classified