‘Ware and his collaborators aren’t fusing science and art so much as evolving an entirely new way of working.’ – New Scientist July 2016
ART, STROKE, SCIENCE & THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
Master of Fine Arts, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Honorary Research Fellow, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex
Associate Member, The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, Staffordshire University
Founder and CEO of the THE WAVELENGTH PROJECT charity (Registered Charity Number 1173281)
Since having a life-threatening stroke in 1996 at the age of 39, Mark Ware’s art has focused primarily on how his subjective experiences have been affected by his brain injury. This has led to ongoing art/science collaborations with neuroscientists and psychologists that began in 2015. Together they have been exploring how exposure to the natural environment can be of health benefit to a wide range of people, including those with neurological conditions. Mark says of his art/science collaborations that are focusing on nature, “It’s great to see that there is an increasing awareness of how the natural environment can be of benefit to wellbeing and health. This increased understanding is influencing our lifestyles and even the design of the built environment that most of us engage with on a daily basis.
“Due to my stroke, I have become acutely aware of how intrinsically linked we are to the natural environment, and my work is now steered by a belief that the way we perceive and respond to the world around us is directly influenced by our evolved multisensory processing of ‘natural’ stimuli. This processing collectively influences our brain and body responses in ways that range from how we react to the varying colour of natural light, to how we respond to gravity.
“As a professional artist with over 40 years’ experience, I am convinced that an understanding of art and ‘art language’ can play an important role in scientific research into how nature affects us, particularly where investigations involve studies of the senses.
“Influenced by my experience of stroke and disability, I’m determined to find ways of ‘taking nature to people’ who find access to the natural environment difficult due to physical or cognitive barriers. In collaboration with scientists, we are developing ways in which this can be achieved through nature-influenced architectural design intervention, and nature-influenced multisensory artworks.”
In recognition of his art/science collaborations, Mark is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS, University of Sussex), and an Associate Member at the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, Staffordshire University. His primary collaborators are Professor Hugo D Critchley Co-Director Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and Dr Nichola Street and Dr Gemma Hurst at Staffordshire University’s Centre for Psychological Research.
Mark is also the founder and CEO of THE WAVELENGTH PROJECT charity that promotes the advancement of the arts and science, focusing on the health benefits of the natural environment to the public.
Mark Ware’s TEDxFulbrightGlasgow 2019 talk, organised by the US-UK Fulbright Commission. Titled, ‘Stroke: the loss and recovery of familiarity’. Familiarity may sometimes breed contempt, but it can also lead to empathy and greater understanding. In this talk, Mark Ware argues that we are hard-wired to seek familiarity. Following his stroke at the age of 39, Mark was forced to familiarise himself with the daily rhythms of life again, finding in his work and life that the familiar was his pathway to recovery and his second stage of life.
‘Altered subjective experiences caused by changes in mind and body due to stroke’ Science Stroke Art 2014 Manchester Town Hall, organised by the Stroke Association in partnership with the University of Manchester.
Nature Scientific Reports (‘Mind-wandering and alterations to default mode network connectivity when listening to naturalistic versus artificial sound’)
Articles about Mark’s art/science activities can be found at:
Pulse Magazine (‘It’s true – the sounds of nature really do help us relax’)
New Scientist (‘Missing the natural world? Just add multimedia’)
Arts Council England (‘Can art make us feel better?’)
The Psychologist (‘Reflecting nature’)
“Mark is an inspiration to us all and an important voice that deserves to be and should be heard. He is truly an artist for the 21st century” – Steven Brown, Royal Exchange Theatre Company, Manchester.
All text and images on this website copyright Mark Ware unless otherwise stated.