CVI ART is the name given to a project embracing the many ways art and artists can help people with CVI.
Art is not just a way to teach or a way to learn. Art can be used to show what CVI feels like, and express the experience of CVI.
Professor John Ravenscroft from the University of Edinburgh has been awarded a fellowship, from the Arts & Humanities Research Council, for the project CVI ART. A fellowship is an award of money, given to an individual (the 'Fellow'), usually for an academic study. This award relates specifically to research designed to improve equality, diversity and inclusion.
CVI ART has commissioned a group of dancers, a composer and an artist, to portray the experience of living with CVI.
But through their art form, to convey, what its like to be a person with CVI.
CVI ART will also showcase the work of artists with CVI. As the world slowly wakes up to CVI, we need role models so children with CVI can be inspired by what others can achieve.
The recorded performances in November 2021 will become part of an on-line exhibition and celebration of everything that is incredible about those with CVI.
We hope you will join us, and look forward to sharing regular updates of the project's progress and impact.
CVI Scotland is a proud partner of CVI ART.
The passages below help explain the aims of the project.
Taken from CVI Scotland's letter of support for CVI ART, sent to the Arts & Humanities Research Council Committee, 22 August 2020.
Art, to help fill the CVI knowledge gap.
CVI Scotland was set up in 2016 to fill a knowledge gap. We are aware of the likely prevalence of 3.5-4% of all school children being affected by CVI, explained in the main report. We are also aware that virtually no one understands this complex condition, and these children are often labelled as learning delayed, or distracted, or having behavioural challenges, even as being naughty. They often find themselves isolated and unhappy, some feel depressed. We have even heard accounts of suicidal feelings.
Our frustration has been that with understanding, small changes that cost nothing can transform chidren's lives, but giving the requisite understanding to those who need it, is difficult.
'Those who need it' are the children with CVI and those closest to them, but they also need the correct understanding from the people supporting them, otherwise the affected child is labelled and blamed for their difficulties, as if they somehow choose to find school lessons difficult, and choose to be considered weak in sports or not be very popular with other children. We know these children; we have decades of experience in our team meeting these children and getting to know their families, and some stories are heart-breaking. This hidden disability, is so common that on average it affects one child in every class, yet it is so hidden that it is virtually unheard of.
Our mission to fill this knowledge gap is a difficult one, because we need to explain complex brain processing conditions to a wide range of people from wide ranging backgrounds with different learning skills and styles. Our website cviscotland.org, designed and created for us to fill this knowledge gap, was launched in 2017.
Professor John Ravenscroft is one of CVI Scotland's advisors and is the leading academic in the UK wide conversation about CVI. He is a very 'hands-on' academic, involved in programmes around Scotland aiming to educate different groups, not only about what CVI is, but also where it is. His ground-breaking research has shown that children from economically deprived areas are the most likely to be affected by CVI.
CVI Scotland has recently partnered with Professor Ravenscroft and the University of Edinburgh, in a funded project to build community learning networks, starting with some of the most economically poor regions in Scotland.
We have yet to fill the knowledge gap, as we have just started, and know that there is no single approach to learning, especially when it comes to what some call 'scary science stuff', like brain processing. This is a problem in real life, when your child is coming home crying because they were alone on the playground at break-time, or yet again the last to be picked for a team sport.
Where science is scary, why not use something that isn't, like music, or art? The link below takes you to a 42 second film of the human brain in action. It could be your brain, it could reflect the extraordinary mental activity as you read these words, not just biology, but magical... Incredible! It is called 'Self Reflected'.
"Self-reflected, the most complex artistic rendition of the human brain in the world...this is what consciousness looks like, yourself, reflected"
The key word is 'Artistic', with beautiful music this installation is alluring, almost hypnotising. We are drawn in - and yet, what it is showing is some seriously scary science stuff, but somehow as art it isn't so scary.
We need more of this! We need to find ways to help people to start to think about their own minds and their consciousness, and about what reality is to them. We need to link these thoughts back to this extraordinary thing called a brain which is the organ responsible for your mind, responsible for the person you are. It is amazing, but very much taken for granted, and avoided, especially when presented using a scientific model of teaching, because many think it will be difficult or boring, or just too complicated to get one's head around.
Does this installation teach what CVI is? Not directly, but it and its like are needed to help explain the mind, because we need also to explain the altered mind, where the brain is not processing typically, leading to the child missing important facial expressions, upsetting other children, losing friends and ending up unpopular and alone on the playground. This happens. A lot. We need to rethink how we can best help people to understand. To get inside the mind of the child, to understand, to learn to see as the child sees and to use these insights to help. Through art a gateway can open, where the further knowledge needed is not scary and unobtainable, but becomes alluring, because it is connected to the most precious and rewarding thing of all, helping a child.
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At CVI Scotland we are devoted to helping people understand cerebral visual impairments, and together working towards developing the understanding of this complex condition.