Brain Injury–Northern Ireland’s ‘Silent Epidemic’

An excellent BBC NI news story broadcast yesterday about brain injury in Northern Ireland, in which the broadcaster, Marie-Louise Connelly shares the hospital statistics that NI has the highest number of people admitted to the hospital with brain injury in the UK. The charity, Brain Injury Matters, describes brain injury as Northern Ireland’s silent epidemic and calls for more services to be in place.

Reassembled, Slightly Askew, which I am testing out with selected focus groups in the next few months, is in the right place at the right time to tour NI beginning in 2015, then beyond, courtesy of support from The Wellcome Trust, Arts & Disability Award Ireland (administered by Arts & Disability Forum, Belfast) and The MAC (where I am fortunate to receive invaluable support from it’s HATCH supported artist scheme).

 

No longer a ‘recovery’ but a ‘reassemblage’

For a few months now, I’ve been contemplating how fitting Recovery is as a title, nearly 4 years on from the project’s initial conception. I always described the project as Recovery: my process of being disassembled and reassembled, slightly askew, particularly for the numerous funding applications I’ve written over the years to secure support for the project.

Similar to the actual artwork, all those years ago none of the artists involved knew what was ahead.¬† I certainly didn’t know what my process of pulling myself and my life together would be like, nor did the neurosurgeon, nurses, occupational therapist, neuropsychologist, physiotherapists, or my GP.

I now think that Reassembled, Slightly Askew captures main trajectory of the piece more accurately. That titles gives space for the fact that I now have a disability, which I must manage and won’t recover from. ‘Recovery’ is a word that originates from a medical model, and does not acknowledge the reality of disability, particularly a hidden one of an acquired brain injury. There are some aspects of my brain injury I may never ‘recover’ from; this is itself a personal journey that has not been an easy one to acknowledge and own (¬°Viva la siesta!). I am, most definitely, reassembled, and most definitely, ‘slightly askew’. The place I was at before Mr. McConnell opened my head is not a place I can ever recover and return to.

This renaming, or clarifying, is timely, as Paul (sonic composer and sound designer) has recently finished the first full draft of the entire piece after months of development and reworking with the artistic team, guidance and feedback from the biomedical advisors, and recording with professional actors in the Sonic Lab at SARC (Queens University). It’s an exciting benchmark which propels us forward towards the 2015 tour.