Sanctuary? Scabies and other afflictions along life's pilgrimage

Victoria Haffenden, Jake Leith

Research output: Non-textual outputExhibition


Vikki Haffenden and Jake Leith collaborated with the Brighton and Sussex Medical School team from January 2016 through to November 2016, planning, designing, curating and presenting an exhibition. The exhibition, hosted by the Eastbridge Hospital, Canterbury, was designed to raise awareness about Scabies, and its prevalence in homes for the elderly in the South East of England. The exhibition was part of an ongoing project at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (a joint institution of the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex). The venue: the medieval under croft was a small and challenging space, and the staff were all volunteers, therefore it was felt that personal contact was critical to the success of the exhibition. A joint, preparatory site visit was made to Canterbury to plan the most successful aesthetic and practical outcomes for the exhibition space. Over 500 people visited through the duration of the exhibition. The main BSMS project funded a Saturday of free entry to the museum, and this enhanced the footfall. The collaborative aspect of the work between BSMS and the Fashion & Textiles Programme at the University of Brighton towards the exhibition was extremely valuable to both sides, and important to outcomes of the exhibition. This was supported by the very positive feedback from visitors, which was almost all 10/10. The highest scoring elements were the interactive features of the exhibition and the appeal for all ages. A high percentage of feedback mentioned the experiential garment (cardigan), and included: "my favourite part was when I could touch the cardigan of scabies" and "[my favourite part of the exhibition was] the cardigan, you get a better understanding of scabies". This engagement with textiles was not only as a medical ‘service' (i.e. wound dressings), but was on an aesthetic level so that it could encourage public engagement above and beyond the technical/medical/care perspective. The interactive, tactile nature of textiles encouraged the participation of younger people and children. A large proportion of the information was in poster format, and required text to be read and understood; whilst this was highly suitable for an older lay audience, an interactive experiential garment that visitors were actively encouraged to touch and wear was of considerable value to the aims of the exhibition. The inclusion of textiles artefacts helped people identify outside of the medical/clinical context, and also had universal appeal which inspired interest from a fresh angle; this was particularly evident with the younger and non-medical audience.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2016
Eventexhibition - Eastbridge hospital, Canterbury, 20 Oct - 14 Nov, 2016
Duration: 20 Oct 2016 → …

Bibliographical note

© All stills are by the author. Video courtesy of Professor Jackie Cassell, BSMS.


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