Senses in Modern Health/Care Environments: International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 4-5 April 2022, funded by the Wellcome Trust, as experienced by Dr Olivia Turner

The Senses in Modern Health/Care Environments: International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives Conference promised to be a feast of intersensorality across the course of two days – moving through, between, and around history, culture, materiality, arts, and experience – and it did not disappoint. What bound these senses together was the focus on environments of health and care. As acknowledged in the introductory comments by one of the organisers, Victoria Bates, it was, for many of us, the first in-person conference since 2019. Although I was supposed to be physically present and sensorially-participating, I was instead, ill with covid. Perhaps then, my participation was appropriately confronting in the sick bed, along with the sights, sounds, tastes, and feelings that accompanied it. So, instead I participated digitally through their commitment to a hybrid-inclusive environment. Whereby mine and many others’ horizontality was accommodated in a way that, before the pandemic, never was done so openly.

This piece of writing is to talk through the papers, provocations, thoughts, and post-ruminations that the conference afforded. I am not simply a scribe but a living, breathing body, that lived, breathed, and felt alongside many other bodies at this conference, and I will do my best to capture that. But what I am navigating, is how do we confront sensescapes through text? Let me take that challenge for you, dear reader, we can live, breathe, and feel together.

Day One

Day Two

This international conference demonstrated the breadth of interdisciplinary work currently being undertaken within the field of senses in health/care environments. Disciplines were entangled with one another to consider thematic dialogues of sensory emotions, materials, forms, and designs. Prompting questions for future discussions around how we shape these thematic categories, how do we define types of sensory experience, and how does this intersect with clinical practice, archival work, power relationships, and in what physical, social and cultural context. Throughout the days there were moments that punctured the conventional academic delivery of papers by singing, moving, breathing, and talking together as a collective of shared and overlapping interests.

Thanks to the organising committee for their dedication in creating an interesting, relevant, and diverse conference that prompted much thinking and debate. For more insights from speakers and attendees, follow #healthcaresenses on Twitter.

The ‘Sensing Spaces of Healthcare’ project and ‘Senses and Modern Health/care Environment’ network are hosts for authors’ material. All views expressed in the above are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the project, network, funders or affiliates. The responsibility for clearing rights to publish images or quote sources lies with the authors. All copyright remains with authors, and unauthorised reproduction is prohibited in line with copyright law.