A Sense of Place: exploring nature and well-being through the non-visual senses.

How can a radical and interdisciplinary team come together to further develop their work on non-visual senses and environment.

In 2018 (Feb-Oct), this project team was awarded an Immersive Experience ‘development grant’ from the AHRC/EPSRC for ‘A Sense of Place: Exploring Nature and Wellbeing through the Non-Visual Senses. This grant involved ‘crowdsourcing’ responses (with local communities and online) and designing an experience that responded to – and further interrogated – people’s sensory relationships with nature. It used sound and smell technologies to explore relationships between nature, senses, memory and wellbeing.

What did the project involve? 

This project involved creating the opportunity for a further team meeting to begin work on a funding application and an article for Health & Place from this emerging, developing, and expanding partnership. This was a two-day meeting, with one day assigned to the development of a funding plan and the second day forming a team writing retreat.

Who are the team and what do they bring?

  • Victoria Bates (History, University of Bristol) researches the history of healthcare, asking how people have experienced hospitals through time. Her work has focused on understand the changing role of sensory interactions in the making of hospital environments.
  • Kristen Cater (Computer Science, University of Bristol) designs elegant solutions to enhance the ways people interact with their physical environment and each other.
  • Clare Hickman (History, University of Chester) is an environmental and medical historian focusing on post 1750 Britain. Her research focuses on the intersection between medical ideas and practice, and the designed landscape.
  • Ronald Ligtenberg (Skyway Programs CIC) is an inspirational speaker and a specialist in working and inspiring people with disabilities. Ronald is the co-founder of the Open Senses network: a group of sensory practitioners and experts that organised a festival in London, including a symposium, workshops, multi-sensory club nights and installations, happening in 24 venues like V&A museum, National Gallery, and Truman Brewery.
  • Helen Manchester (University of Bristol) explores the potential to access learning outside schools. She works with others to explore cutting-edge creative digital technologies with groups who might generally feel excluded from the digital environment.
  • Jonathan Prior (Human Geography, University of Cardiff) is a human geographer with a broad research interest in nature-society relations. His work is interdisciplinary in approach, spanning environmental philosophy, sound studies, and landscape research.
  • Stephanie Singer (Open Senses / BitterSuite) is a composer, and creative director. She was the founder/artistic director of the world’s first sensory festival ‘Open Senses’, guest artistic director for a sensory festival co-created by 60 deafblind artists ‘Sensibility Festival’. Stephanie Singer’s Website.

What were the results?

The primary intention of this project was to convert an AHRC/EPSRC ‘development grant’ on nature, senses and wellbeing into a large funding application for the Wellcome Trust or UKRI. This project allowed the team to make concrete progress on ideas for a bigger grant, which had not yet proven possible.

The proposed activities consolidated existing partnerships in the short term, by providing an opportunity for the multidisciplinary team to meet and take concrete steps to convert their development grant into a big external funding application. A clear funding plan also allowed the team to expand their non-academic partnerships, building on preliminary partnerships established during the Sense of Place project (an extra-care facility, Barton Hill Settlement and Southmead Hospital. The team were also interested in developing their relationships with contacts in industry such as specialists in vibration and haptic technologies.