A new creative direction

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Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.
Isaac Asimov

Merryn writes…..I have had lots of conversations since my  European Association of Palliative Care Conference plenary in Berlin about gender and palliative care. Which is exactly what I intended. I wanted to catalyse thinking within palliative care about sex and gender as key, but invisible, determinants of end of life experience.

It’s a conversation that is only just beginning so how to ensure it continues? Well we’ve got lots of ideas, but one which I’m dying to share (no pun intended) takes our work in a new creative direction.

Key to the plenary was Vivian’s story – a monologue I write with help from Lisa. The story was inspired by Māori purākau. Purākau are a traditional form of Māori narrative that serve as a vehicle for teaching and learning. More than mere myths or legends, they are vital for the transfer of knowledge, values and wisdom.  In a similar vein, we created Vivian as a story that is imbued with knowledge gained from our research and the broader body of palliative care literature. While Vivian is no woman’s particular story, she represents how gender can affect every woman. Vivian also foregrounds the values of  Te Ārai – that individuals and their families/whānau are the true experts regarding palliative care and clinicians and policy makers would do well to listen to them.

The University of Auckland School of Nursing is a fantastic place to work, not least because we have researchers from different disciplines with whom we can exchange new ideas. It is in this cross-fertilisation that true innovation often begins. Dr Victoria Egli is a postdoc researcher doing important work around child centred design and health.  She is also amazingly creative (check out her Twitter feed to see the jumper she crocheted herself @EgliVictoria). It was her brilliant idea to refashion Vivian as a graphic novel (for the EAPC conference the story was presented as a recorded monologue).

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to work with uber talented graphic designer Dr Tatiana Tavares who took our text and transformed it into amazing artwork with the support of Dr Marcos Mortensen Steagall’s vibrant photography.

And the photographs he took were of our fantastically generous School of Nursing colleagues with the likes of Julia Slark, Kim Ward and our very own Michal Boyd giving up their time to be snapped. We all also roped in our families – my 13 year old son plays a very convincing grumpy teenager (wasn’t much of a stretch!).

We will be releasing Vivian for public consumption soon. (If you have any ideas of who might be interested please share them with us). But in the meantime here’s a taster #watchthisspace.

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  1. Fantastic feedback! And that would be amazing! Thanks Lis. We are going to add some study guide type questions at the end so might run those past you if that’s OK?


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