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EngagementGuest postsThe Bill Mapleson Centre

A greater sense of depth: Discovering new perspectives on clinical innovation

13 October 2015

Blog Post Author: Chris Glynn (Cardiff School of Art & Design)

photo: Arron Hamer, drawing: Gideon Summerfield (3rd year Illustration students)

Pop-up Visual Facilitation Theatre

by CSAD Illustration team:  Chris Glynn, Maelle Chevallier, Arron Hamer, Gideon Summerfield, Helen Towrie on display in CSAD Heart Space 9-15 October 2015

On Wednesday afternoon, 7 October Cardiff Met hosted a Bill Mapleson Centre: Clinical Innovation Wales Event in Product Design. Clinicians, CSAD and Cardiff University academics, health professionals, medical innovators and designers convened to make presentations, share ideas and discuss the challenges of creative innovation. This was meeting place of applied science, creative processes and technologies, including those of CSAD’s FabLab. At the invitation of Dr. Clara Watkins (CSAD Product Design), a team of Illustration undergraduates led by Senior Lecturer Chris Glynn recorded the conversations live through a pop-up version of visual scribing. We invited delegates to contribute their own questions and ideas. This included the image of sharks representing threats to innovation: risk aversion, institutional inertia, fear of losing control of intellectual property, and the pressure to monetise output too early in the creative process. Tensions emerged between a ‘just do it’ attitude among clinicians and legal caution among designers, between the creative individual and corporate agendas, between putting people first and asserting ownership to secure income streams.  The move away from ‘silos’ and proprietary ownership, towards open source culture and technologies is playing its part in shifting the ground, not least for students and staff in the art and design school and support networks for innovation across Cardiff Met University.

Metaphorical event management is born!

“Illustrators are like actors, teachers and politicians: we are boundary catalysts, able to engage with emotionally charged, strategic, learning situations.  Illustrators have always been interpreters and translators. However, in addition to illuminating a text or idea from within, or commenting from the side-lines, or speaking for others from a brief, we can take the main stage and occupy an expanded role by hosting, influencing and directing the conversation, and animating the exchange of energy and ideas.”  –  Chris Glynn

Chris has been developing new forms of visual facilitation independently and with students for the past three years; in his own teaching, in health education and other training and engagement events.  He devised this theatre for a performance with Psappha of Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale in Manchester at the Anthony Burgess Centre. It brings together: a)  the Japanese back-of-a-bicycle kamishibai tradition (the origin of manga) b) the theatre set design model and Victorian paper model theatre; c) shadow theatre. It’s intimate, live and as yet has not been relayed to screens or deployed virtually. Combining theatre with the recent convention of visual meetings and animated info-graphics, this pop-up arena proposes a new form of public intervention. Theatre returns to its roots in the marketplace and the street performance, with the audience seating removed and replaced by an animated conversational space.

We welcome your feedback and thoughts on rethinking innovation culture.

Professor Judith Hall of Cardiff University and Lead for the The Bill Mapleson Centre said, ‘We have had a wonderful afternoon of Innovation in Action here at the School of Art and Design who have done a great job of hosting the event. Our ideas and experiences have been explored and laid bare through the illustration of Chris Glynn and his team. They have illustrated both our problems and barriers to progress, but also our possible solutions. All done in a fun and interactive way, helping us achieve some clarity, purpose and direction. I am very pleased that Chris and his team have been here with us, we must certainly use illustration of the innovative process again.’ For further information and discussion, please contact

Professor Judith Hall,

Clinical Innovation Wales and The Bill Mapleson Centre, Cardiff University

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