© Laura E. Fischer 2020

  • @brains_and_brushes
  • @brains_brushes

 About 

Mental Health Activist, Researcher, Artist, Speaker, Author, Lecturer, Consultant...

All of these titles both correctly and incorrectly describe what I do. "Productive disruptor specialising in trauma" would be a more appropriate description. My work weaves scientific approaches with creative methods (and vice-versa) and focuses on trauma - often with an activist agenda. The commonality in all that I do is a shift in the dynamics: I believe that trauma survivors are not powerless broken individuals - we are survivors who have the power and the resources to lead our own healing and growth, and contribute to the healing and growth of our communities and the world at large.

SO WHAT DO I DO?

A key aspect of my work is developing novel interventions to respond to violence, abuse, and neglect. My main focus in this area is on the neurophysiology of childhood trauma and the use of creative body-based methods to both manage post-traumatic expressions and enable traumatic memories to be expressed and processed, thereby supporting healing. The theoretical basis is scientific, the practice is creative, the approach is survivor-led, and the applications are both clinical and non-clinical. For this work, I was awarded Improvement Leader Fellow by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) CLAHRC NWL.

 

Through arts, I raise awareness of trauma and create opportunities for the voices of trauma survivors to be heard and traumatic experiences to be reframed as narratives of resilience, not victimisation. I have exhibited my artworks and films in the UK and internationally since 2005 at venues such as Central Saint Martins Museum Collection, the Whitechapel Gallery, the BFI, and the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, and I now also organise and curate group exhibitions by artists who identify with having experienced trauma.

With talks and lectures, I discuss and aim to inspire action on matters related to violence and abuse, trauma healing and growth, mental health, radical vulnerability, arts as activism, arts for health, redesigning PPI, and more. I have spoken at conferences and events in the UK and Europe, including several keynote speeches and TEDx. I am a Special Lecturer at Central Saint Martins and UCL, and I give guest lectures at other universities. I also use my voice through the written word with texts that are sometimes academic and sometimes creative. I have notably been published by The Lancet Psychiatry, Palgrave, and House Sparrow Press.

 

I also work as a consultant in trauma-informed practice, interdisciplinary practice, and working with lived experience in mental health research and healthcare improvement (often called 'patient and public involvement' or PPI) - because I believe that the best way to ensure that science and clinical practice are relevant, timely, and meaningful is through the co-learning and partnership of expertise by experience and expertise by profession. Organisations and institutions I have worked with include the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Northwick Park Hospital, King's College London, and Nesta, among others.

WHAT ELSE?

I serve on the Editorial Advisory Board of The Lancet Psychiatry, I am an Honorary Research Fellow of NIHR ARC NWL, I work as a Public Involvement Coordinator and Researcher with the McPin Foundation on the Public Mental Health research programme for England, and I am part of the Creative Practices, Education, and Wellbeing Community of Practice at the University of the Arts London.

Conferences & Events

2019   Speaker, Royal College of Psychiatrist Annual Conference for NW England, Nottingham, UK

2019   Speaker & Panelist, Vulnerability and Resistance, Central Saint Martins, London, UK

2019   Keynote Speaker, Brunel Occupational Therapy Conference, Brunel University, London, UK

2019   Plenary Speaker, Wellbeing Conference for Anaesthetists, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, UK

2018   Plenary Speaker, Journée Romande des Soins Infirmiers, healthcare conference, Lausanne, Switzerland
2018   Keynote Speaker, The Bigger Picture: Activism, Social Practice & Art for Health, Central Saint Martins, London, UK

2018   Keynote Speaker, Sheffield Healthcare Improvement, Sheffield Health & Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK
2018   Panelist, Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, Glasgow, UK
2018   Speaker & Panelist, MCA Expo, healthcare improvement & leadership conference, Sheffield, UK
2018   Plenary Speaker, Healthcare Improvement Event, NIHR CLAHRC NWL, London, UK
2017   TEDx Talk Speaker, The Happy Generation, TEDxULB, Brussels, Belgium
2017   Speaker, Future Citizen Innovation Series: Reinventing Healthcare Technology, Amazon WS, London, UK
2016   Speaker, Kent Mental Health Festival, Folkestone, UK

Exhibitions, Screenings, Performances

2019   Exhibition Traumatised Selves: A Collective Voice of Lived Experience, Willesden Gallery, London, UK

2019   Film Screening Cinemas of Sisterhood: Trauma and Resistance, Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK

2018   Film Screening, Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, Glasgow, UK

2018   Film Screening, Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal

2018   Film Screening, national television, Switzerland

2017   Exhibition The Traumatised Self: Mind, Brain, and Body, Willesden Gallery, London, UK

2017   Exhibition The Character of Physical Law: Physics & Art, Willesden Gallery, London, UK

2017   Exhibition The Traumatised Self: Mind, Brain, and Body, MRC Social Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre,

           King’s College London, London, UK

2017   Exhibition Trauma-Focused Movement Language, Central Saint Martins Museum, London, UK
2017   Film Screening, Central Saint Martins, London, UK
2016   Performance, community project, Royal Albert Hall outreach program, Royal Albert Hall, London, UK
2016   Film Screening & Live Score, collaboration with London Sinfonietta Orchestra, Southwark Playhouse, London, UK

2016   Exhibition Focal Perception, ArtMoorHouse, London, UK

2015   Film Screening & Live Score, collaboration with London Sinfonietta Orchestra, British Film Institute, London, UK

2015   Exhibition Femme, 1650 Gallery, Los Angeles, USA

2014   Performance, PDP Collective, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK

2013   Exhibition Waters, 1650 Gallery, Los Angeles, USA

2013   Exhibition Human and Machine, Central Saint Martins, London, UK

2010   Exhibition Body Language, Metropolis, Morges, Switzerland

2008   Exhibition Body Language, Le Tempo, Yverdon, Switzerland

2005   Exhibition Through My Lens, Art Gallery Casamundo, Lausanne, Switzerland

 

Publications

 

2020   Palgrave (forthcoming)
           Contributor to the book Patient Knowledge: A Cornerstone for the Transformation of Care and
 Health Organisations

2019   The Lancet Psychiatry
           Trauma Focused Movement Language, series of 12 photographs published as covers

           and an article on my work on trauma and the body

2019   House Sparrow Press
           Violence and Trauma: A Societal Reality We Are All Responsible For, essay written for the

           book Doorways on homelessness, women, trauma and resistance

2018   CSM Public

           Trauma-Focused Movement Language, article on my work, vol. 2, pp. 49

2018   Poésie en Mouvement

           Contributor to the book Arythmie

Awards

2018   Winner, Mental Health Arts and Film Festival of Portugal, Lisbon, Portugal
2017   NOVA Award Nominee, Central Saint Martins, London, UK
2011   BCV Prize for Academic Excellence, Marcelin, Morges, Switzerland

2008   Prize in Visual Arts, Morges, Switzerland

2008   Prize in Photography, Morges, Switzerland

2008   Prize in Political Science, Morges, Switzerland