Ideas in Progress: Let's Hibernate - Join the Fun

Slow down, snuggle up


We’ve been having a great time testing out formats and experimenting with workshop ideas during out Ideas in Progress in 2018. The last one is wrapping up a year of sensory exploration by delving into the world of hibernation.

Join Open Senses on 24th November and explore the concept of Hibernation through the senses. 

Tickets available here: and on the door on the day itself.

Can we bend time, slow the body down, switch off our sensory awareness, and drift into a deep hibernation?

During the long winter months, time slows, darkness closes in, and we can all feel sleepy, and inactive. Many species take this a step further and hibernate. The body slows down and breathing, temperature, metabolic and heart rates, all decrease to conserve energy. 

Let’s Hibernate is an experience that aims to take the audience into a hypnogogic state - the experience of the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep - through the senses. 

Settle in, relax and Let's Hibernate. 

Sleeping bear.jpg

Dr Eugene Feygelson, creator of I=U festival and Open Senses creative advisor, joins forces with well-being specialist, Play Pirate and creator of 'toucantoo' (and blogger of this here blog) Natasha Blok to create a playful exploration of the hibernation process.

Grizzly in the winter? Utilising Italian bear biologist research, they will explore what similarities there might be between humans and other mammals when it comes to hibernation.

Get creative and hands on in a playful light-hearted way to set the scene for forest bedtime. We’re all going in a bear hut... Come equipped with lots of clothing and a sense of adventure...


Then, can audio visual stimuli twinned with aromatic taste and scent encourage the body into a hypnogogic state? Programme Manager for Open Senses Rosie O'Connor brings you an visual montage alongside audio curated by Eight Fold Way to experiment if through changing light and visual stimuli we can slow the body and mind down into a sleepy state. 

WARNING: This video montage contains flashing images which may not be suitable for audience members with photosensitive epilepsy.

Sarah 4160 Tuesdays.jpg

Perfumer and creator of 4160Tuesdays, Sarah McCartney, spent 14 years as head writer for Lush before embarking on her own quest to make bespoke perfumes that capture times and places or a person at a certain moment. Everyone's reactions to smells are different so how will you respond to our invisible creations? Can scents bring you into a deep relaxation and sleep? And can they bring you back out the other side? To learn more about 4160Tuesdays click here.


Finally enjoy amazing herbal creations by Hedge Herbs. Hedge Herbs is a community herbalist based in East London with 6 years experience of facilitating group learning and teaching short and long courses in herbal medicine. Rasheeqa is passionate about collaborative and participatory herbalism in the community with a focus on sharing and exchanging healing traditions between the diverse cultures and knowledge of London. She is currently initiating a community apothecary project in Wathamstow - Community Herbal Hands - which seeks to develop networks of medicinal plant cultivation, harvesting, preparing, knowledge-sharing and use for health and wellbeing support in neighbourhoods. Can her herbal creations help you leave the busy rush of London behind and slip into a hibernative state? To learn more about Hedge Herbs click here.

Take time from the shopping madness with Black Friday and Cyber Monday to simply take it all in and slow down from it all.

Uncovering Tereza’s Many Sensory Journeys

Journey to the Centre main.jpg

One year on we catch up with Dr Tereza Stehlikova (original interview here), the brains behind the Journey to the Interior, what’s she’s been up to and what is in the pipeline for this busy lady.

As a filmmaker, it’s expected that the project culminated in moving image format along with still images. Here are some great links to her work and feedback: videos of interviews with selected participants, a video of the developmental process and a short film: Journey to the Centre of the Earth, based on the performance.

There is also a lovely write up of the experience by Monika Parrinder and a summary by Tereza herself.

The project in itself took several months of workshops and coordination with many other artists and practitioners. Therefore it’s not surprising that Tereza is building upon this success with many other projects, and these are just the sensory specific ones!

She presented Journey to the Centre of the Earth at Prague Porous Borders (part of Prague Quadrennial), and did another run of the live event at Jihlava Documentary film festival.

Image from Jihlava film festival

Image from Jihlava film festival

She balances time on one off projects such as running a Touch, Talk, Tell: sensory storytelling workshop at the Somerset House alongside running a Sensory research cluster at the Royal College of Art, aimed at PhD students ( She presented her sensory research at Focus Inside Festival.

Tereza is currently making a new film, Ophelia’s Last Supper, which continues her exploration into food and embodiment.

Ophelia's Last Supper project

Ophelia's Last Supper project

Future plans include a potential book on her research into sensory aesthetics, tactility and film.

She is also planning to continue the great work of Journey to the Interior into time and space!

The plan is to collaborate with astrophysicist Roberto Trotta and adapt the concept of a journey told through all the senses, to take participants on a journey in time, into the state of 'primordial universe'. As with Journey to the Interior, the sensory triggers will include edible ones, made in collaboration with a chef. We can't wait to see how her team will translate certain abstract scientific concepts, data and facts, into a lived sensory experience, and thereby introducing an emotional connection.

Along with Open Senses 2019, she is excited to be creating a performance for Prague Quadrennial in 2019

You can keep up with her many many adventures through her websites:

Continue the conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses, shared by Natasha Blok

One year on: Open Senses royally celebrated, Michael Rosen reviews & Sensory festivals spread!

Open Senses flyers and A Blind Bit of Difference Book.jpg
a sensorial kaleidoscope of the senses
Hear ye! hear ye! A series of announcements coming your way

Hear ye! hear ye! A series of announcements coming your way

Royal Celebrations

As the world’s eyes turn to the UK for Harry and Meghan’s royal wedding, one year on, we take the opportunity for some reflection. Back on Friday 19th May 2017 we were ramping up for the Open Senses Symposium. We kick started the sensory awakening to come.

We caught up with our very own Open Senses multi-talented, never-stops-to-take-a-breath artist and poet Amy Neilson-Smith (remind yourself here and here of her previous features) to see how she’s been getting on…apparently getting her own royal invitation, to another type of party though!

Royal invitation.jpg

Amy and Zara-Jayne Arnold (co-workshop leader and similarly multi-talented deafblind writer, poet, performer) were invited to meet the Princess Michael of Kent at the Joseph Clarke School extension and centenary celebrations where the announcement of the students’ work being published was rightfully also celebrated.

Michael Rosen is Impressed (as are others)

Back last year, Amy worked with other talented artists, like Zara, to create a series of successful sensory poetry workshops with students with visual impairments from Joseph Clarke School that culminated in a spoken word showcase at Open Senses.

It was so well received, that now both a book and audiobook entitled by a student “A Blind Bit of Difference” are in development along with an accompanying exciting Open Senses-esque launch!

The proud students of Joseph Clarke School with their first print books

The proud students of Joseph Clarke School with their first print books

Through working with a combination of those with sensory needs, science, poetry, food, art and literature, and by experimenting with tastes, smells and music to create metaphors and spoken word poems and stories, they fully embraced crossmodalism principles.

Here’s a few thoughts on the Open Senses showcase and the book from those involved:

“We don’t have to see the colour we can eat the colour!” 

- Mohammed, Joseph Clarke School student and now published poet

“This is an explosion of a book; feelings, thoughts, memories, hopes, attitudes and more whizz through the air and land in our minds. I feel privileged to read it. Please read it too and share your favourite poem with someone. These young people are poets!”

- Michael Rosen, Author (yes the famous one who wrote ‘We’re All Going on a Bear Hunt’!)

“It’s amazing to see young minds at work, improvising Spoken Word, out loud, free of their Braille machines, whilst breaking out into the new found confidence of life changing performance!”

- Zara-Jayne, successful deafblind writer and performer whose poetry and an interview with her exploring vision and hearing impairment also feature in “A Blind Bit of Difference”.

“I enjoyed the performance and celebration at the end most of all! They have grown in confidence, self-esteem and enjoyed every single sensory session. Especially the food! Amy and Open Senses brought their imaginations to life and the poetry they produced was amazing!”

- Jody Beecham. Class Teacher, Joseph Clarke School                          

Many of these students have vision impairment and some have additional needs. My classes took part in weekly Spoken Word and Sensory Poetry “Tasting Colour” sessions and produced their own exciting audio poems and performances. This project with Amy and the students has been extremely rewarding. Their thoughts conveyed on paper go far beyond their years!”

- Cheryl Aubury – Braille and Literacy Curriculum Manager, Joseph Clarke School

“Since reading my head is full of rusty wire flamingos slicing through sound to find their soft and fluffy fathers! The poems create their own visceral and powerful landscape where feelings and the senses collide to make a sense of their own. It’s an important book, and most beautifully, it rings of a freedom that the poets discovered through writing and synaesthetic metaphor. Loved it!!!”

- Stephanie Singer, Director, Open Senses Festival

“This book is alive with colour and imagination. The students take you on a vivid journey of exploration, taking the senses beyond what is seen and into a world deep with meaning, poignancy and texture. A joy to read.”

- Kara Jarrold, Head of Arts and Wellbeing, Sense

Students offering camera chocolate .jpg

Can you guess?

Intrigued about the contents? Here are some samples from the book to try for yourself – can you guess what food they are describing?

1. “Dark is a delightful smudge of night” & “Dark is the squidgy yet satisfying feeling of the inside of a hug”  

2. "Light is...a rainbow exploding in my head!” & “Light is...electric words zooming off my tongue!”

3. "Yellow is...a mischievous mouse!” & “Yellow is the cold sharp bitterness of a falling sun!”

4. “Red is...the skin I shed!” & “Red is...a set of closed round doors...and when I open them I fall to a soft landing!”











Answers: 1. Dark chocolate 2. Popping Candy 3. Cheese 4. Tomatoes

How did you do?

Amy created the experience of “tasting colour” through “playfully ‘inducing’ synaesthesia, creating a sensorial kaleidoscope of the senses, improvising metaphors ‘out loud’ using taste, smell, texture & word games!”

Sensory Festivals spread to Birmingham

If you want to experience more of Amy, Sense and Steph’s work, they’ll be at the Sensibility Festival in Birmingham this weekend from Friday 18th May to Monday 20th May 2018.

Continue the conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses, shared by Natasha Blok

Journey back to the Interior

interior photo.jpg
free to roam and discover

One of the most exclusive and enigmatic events of Open Senses was a fantastical multi-artist collaboration curated by moving image artist Dr Tereza Stehlikova called Journey to the Interior. Several months of testing, workshops and partnerships with a wide range of practitioners led to a two part creation.

The first part: a one off invite only mystery into the Interior, specifically designed to immerse those lucky few into the world of geology by stepping through the unique space at the Dissenter’s Gallery by engaging all the senses.

The second: a chance to revisit and review the experience of others through film.

Along with the film premiere, there will also be a paired drink from The Herball, and a poetry and musical performance courtesy of Open Senses ‘busy bee award’ winning Amy Neilson Smith.

So if you’re free come along and experience a world deep below.

Tickets can be secured here

Tue 12 December 2017 18:30 – 22:00 Candid Arts Centre, 3 Torrens Street, London, EC1V 1NQ

To give yourself a sneak peek or if you miss the screening:

Interview with Dr Tereza

Photos and articles from the Cinesthetic Feasts blog:

Being Present

An insider's perspective

Keep up to date with Tereza here: and

@OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, shared by Natasha Blok.

Six months since Open Senses spectacular

Open Senses what's on brochures.jpg
Time to reflect

As we head towards the end of the year and we start to reflect, we find that six months have whooshed past in sizzling kaleidoscopic fashion since Open Senses hit London square in the face. A weekend packed with flavour, art, aroma, thought provoking discussion, dance, dreaming, academia and collaboration of all wonderful shapes, colours and sizes!

What a phantasmagorical experience to have had in the city. However, it didn’t stopped there! As we reflect on what happened, we can also catch up with some of those who took part, what magic they've created since and what exciting plans are taking form for 2018.

@OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, reflections shared by Natasha Blok.

A video summary of a glimpse of Open Senses 2017

a multi-sensory extravaganza

As we head into Open Senses in the future (at Citadel), we remember through music, movement, art and connection our 2017 launch. More memories to come...

Credit: Kate Dangerfield and Music Credit: "The Fly" by Cosmo Sheldrake

00:05 - UMWELTERN at The Royal Academy of Arts
00:07 - BITTERSUITE at The Royal Opera House
00:08 - SENCITY at Islington Town Assembly Hall
00:09 - THE DRAWING ROOM in The Royal Academy of Arts
00:10 - FIRONCENE, HACK THE SENSES at The Old Trumans Brewery
00:11 - BABEL IN BLOOM at St. Augustines Tower
00:12 - BITTERSUITE CAST at The Royal Opera House
00:13 - I=U at Shoreditch Church
00:14 - UMWELTERN at The Royal Academy of Arts
00:17 - PROF. CHARLES SPENCE at The Open Senses Symposium
00:19 - THREE STUDIES IN SYNAESTHESIA at Rebecca Hossack Gallery
00:22 - FIRNOCENE at The Old Trumans Brewery
00:26 - THE DREAM MACHINE at The Open Senses Symposium
00:31 - DEEP THROAT CHOIR at The Open Senses Hub
00:36 - SENSORY WEEKEND at the V&A
00:38 - FIRNOCENE at The Old Trumans Brewery
00:40 - BITTERSUITE at The Royal Opera House
00:47 - SENCITY at Islington Town Assembly Hall
00:50 - BEATRICE ALLEGRANTI at The Open Senses Symposium
00:59 - CROSSMODAL CABARET at Platform Southwark
01:02 - BITTERSUITE at The Royal Opera House
01:04 - CROSSMODAL CABARET at Platform Southwark
01:07 - SENCITY at Islington Town Assembly Hall
01:23 - BITTERSUITE at The Royal Opera House
01:26 - We Are Now at Juju's Bar and Stage
01:31 - I=U at Rich Mix London
01:32 - We Are Now at Juju's Bar and Stage

@OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, memories shared via Natasha Blok.

Call out for your Open Senses 2017 memories

Open Senses Brochure
share with us

So, so, SO much happened over just one weekend! To squeeze it all in, there were multiple events, workshops, talks and conversations all happening at the same time in venues across London. We tried our best to capture as much as we could but we couldn’t possibly get it all!

Therefore, we’re inviting you to share your snapshots, experiences, videos, and 3 word summaries with us.

Please post in the comments below or post on facebook and twitter using #OpenSenses2017 or #OpenSensesUK or let us know if you would like to email, and we can collect all your memories together and create an online scrap book together here on the blog. So much better shared than stuck in your phone we think.

Many thanks!

@OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, Invitation by Natasha Blok.

So, it happened!

it was really fun

Phew! So, it happened! You… us… together we made it happen! It’s been a week since the explosion of colour, sound, talks, tactile experiences, workshops, conversations and sensory activities of the Open Senses Festival began.

Even though the weekend is over, there continue to be ways for you to get involved including:

- visiting Marcus Innis’ exhibition which will continue for 3 months read more including an interview with him here

- following up those conversations you started

- making collaborations happen

- discovering where to find your newly discovered artist or scientist’s public event

- keeping in touch with us and giving your feedback to make next time even more awesome!

Over the next few weeks we will be recapping on some of what was experienced, getting some insights from those involved: both leading and participating, and thinking of what the future may hold…

For now, along with the video, here are some thoughts from Stephanie Singer, the mastermind of it all, when it closed last Sunday.

“So … Open Senses JUST HAPPENED. I’m exhausted… maybe a little delirious … But so happy.

Open Senses was a feat of over 300 people (maybe more?!?!), uniting in London to pull off something that was seemingly impossible but actually JUST HAPPENED. I’m so proud of what we made together. Thank you so much to everyone who created work, worked their asses off against all odds, kept on working even when the festival seemed like… a crazy idea, gave dedication, time, energy, passion and LOVE to it. It was beautiful and I’m going to sleep.

#OpenSenses2017 #OpenSensesUK

Join and help 'Bring London To Its Senses', share your photos and comments through @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, continuation by Natasha Blok.

3, 2, 1 and Blast Off!!

experience and enjoy

Thanks to all those who gave up their time for a quick chat, now it’s time to get out there to experience and enjoy!

Most of the on-the-go coverage will be through facebook and twitter – so keep your eyes, ears, fingers, breath on there (but only a little – we do want you to enjoy it fully too!). Please do join in with your own photos and comments. We love to hear from you.

Then we’ll cover it on here and get some comments after it’s all done in a flash of furious activity (with some meditative bits thrown in to balance us)!

Let’s see how we come out the other side: shaken, reawakened, joyful and invigorated we hope!

Join and help 'Bring London To Its Senses', share your photos and comments through @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, excited launch announcement by Natasha Blok.


Interview with Dr Christina Bradstreet: Relaxing with Paintings at the National Gallery

relaxing, nourishing, emotional

Hi, can you please tell us a bit about you and the National Gallery’s involvement with the senses?

My name is Dr Christina Bradstreet and I work at The National Gallery organising adult learning courses and events. ‘Relax with Paintings’ are held regularly at the gallery. It’s a concept that has been designed and led by the Gallery's Head of Adult Learning, Jo Rhymer. It’s a format that has evolved out of a series called ‘Looking without Talking’, involving sustained silent looking, alone, in front of a painting, in a closed off room.

What first got you interested in how the senses can be used in art?

I wrote my art history PhD thesis on the role of scent in Victorian painting and I now have a book manuscript on this subject. I'm fascinated by how the nuances of meaning around the sense of smell change over time. Some of these meanings are lost to us today, but if we can reconnect with these meanings we can understand the paintings as they would have been originally.

Since working on ‘Relax with Paintings’ I have become interested in how imagining the senses within paintings can help people to immerse themselves deeply within the painting. Our special ‘Open Senses: Relax with Paintings’ event brings together both of these interests.

What can visitors expect with ‘Relax with Paintings’?

‘Relax with Paintings’ involves being seated in front of a painting for a slow-guided looking. Participants are invited to inhabit the world depicted and breathe its air and are gently guided in imagining the sensory experience of that space, from its sounds to its smells. For our Special ‘Open Senses: Relax with Painting’ I thought that it would be interesting to introduce soundscapes and a scent to explore whether these enhance or change people’s experience of looking at the painting.

All sorts of revelations occur in these sessions. People often find themselves powerfully affected emotionally and typically discover things they have never noticed before, even if they already know the painting well.

How would you describe ‘Relax with Paintings’ in three words?

Relaxing, nourishing, emotional!

I hear the special Open Senses version of Relax with Paintings has now sold out, how else can visitors keen to experience it get involved?

 Although the special ‘Open Senses: Relax with Paintings’ has sold out, there is a free taster from 2-3pm on Thursday 13th July. Please come and experience the sensory wonder of National gallery paintings then.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

I'm looking forward to the hearing Professor David Howes of the University of Concordia speak at the Symposium conference. He has been a great source of inspiration to me!

How would you like to see senses evolve within a gallery setting?

We hope to make the skills that participants learn in ‘Relax with Paintings’ accessible beyond the walls of the gallery, so that even those who cannot get to art galleries, let alone The National Gallery, can learn to immerse themselves in pictures.

On a personal level I am starting to find ways to bring my own research into smell in nineteenth-century painting into experiential learning sessions, drawing on art and mindfulness techniques.

Sounds intriguing!

What about three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Joyful, exuberant, stimulating!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Hack the Senses - Dr Wellentine’s Emporium of Sensory Curiosities

bamboozling topsy turvy

Here’s a sensory snippet from the team that will be bringing you “The Institute For Sensory Reconnection” from their last bamboozling topsy turvy extravaganza Dr Wellentine's Emporium of Sensory Curiosities...

The delightful thing about sensory events is that you never know where they will take you. In this particular case it started with entering a rather nondescript house to be gathered alongside a hoard of mystified strangers and greeted by an exotic lady in a top hat and fetching jacket, then set lose like hounds on the hunt. Appropriate really as midway I found myself blindfolded with headphones on, bum in the air, nose to the ground much like a bloodhound on the scent track to gain my freedom out of there. This house of oddities featured: sniff-able paintings, a cacophony of orchestral music created from your movements and Microsoft Paint taken up a whole new level – into outer space! At one point I felt I had literally fallen out of the spaceship and was falling into the multi-coloured ether. All this and more within a compact 90 minute period, returning into a breezy bright London afternoon head buzzing with vivid possibilities.

If you want a piece of that then check their latest puzzle here.

Share your experiences @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this experience shared by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Hack the Senses: Sensory Game Changers

fun, challenging, unexpected

Hi, so who are Hack the Senses?

We are Hack the Senses, a Wellcome Trust-supported, multi-disciplinary team spanning fields from art history to computational neuroscience, electrical engineering and prosthetics design. Our work explores the science of the senses to deepen appreciation of the richness of perception, to probe its boundaries and to go beyond them.

Wow sounds very sci-fi. How did it all come to be?

Hack the Senses started in early 2016. It grew out of Imre Bard’s work on ethical and societal issues around human enhancement technologies and sprung from a dissatisfaction with the preoccupation with performance enhancement. The project set out to think about ways in which new technologies could expand the scope of human experience.

Cool and how are you using that with the Open Senses Festival?

We have created a game called ‘Institute for Sensory Reconnection’ for small groups of 2-4 players where visitors will have to solve a series of sensory puzzles and challenges. A little bit like an escape-game, but not quite.

And how would you describe it in three words?

Fun, challenging, unexpected.

Why did you choose the senses as a topic to focus on?

Well, we get to know the world through our senses, they are our only source of knowledge, so developing and refining our use of them can lead to a richer, fuller experience. Also, what could be more exciting than trying to stretch the boundaries of what we can perceive and know?

Indeed! And why should visitors come and visit your game?

Visitors will have an opportunity to explore their senses in a playful way, while learning about the fascinating science of how we perceive the world.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

We would love to see everything at the festival, but because our event runs throughout the whole duration, we will have to miss out on the rest of programme. :(

Any words for the future of where the interest in senses will go?

Hack the Senses will be the next big thing ;)

We’ll mark your words! And three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Excited, grateful, curious

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Tim Murray-Browne: Movement Alphabet to Z…

Photo credit: Tom Medwell.  / @timmurraybrowne

Photo credit: Tom Medwell. / @timmurraybrowne

personal algorithmic physicality

Hi Tim, having spoken to Jan can you please introduce yourself and your perspective on Movement Alphabet?

I am an artist working with code, visuals and sound to create interactive experiences. I co-created Movement Alphabet with Jan Lee. We created the work in response to a feeling of disembodiment within digital technology. We’re using interactive technology but within a one-on-one human experience. We analyse how the participant moves when they talk about their physical life and visualise it to create a ‘Movement Portrait’, an algorithmically generated representations of someone’s physicality.

Sounds intriguing! How did you get into sensory circles - what's the story there?

I studied Maths and Computer Science undergrad and then began a PhD on creating music algorithmically at Queen Mary University of London. I was quickly drawn into research into new forms of creating music - both for musicians and in more participatory formats. Right from the outset I was drawn into creating music through movement, which then led onto other kinds of interactive experiences connecting movement, sound, image and light.

What can people look forward to with Movement Alphabet at the festival this weekend?

Movement Alphabet is a one-on-one immersive experience between you, the participant, and a guide. You’re led on a journey of story and physical awareness (sometimes blindfolded) into our interaction pod, a warm translucent structure safe from outside eyes and ears. Inside, you’re invited to share stories, memories and dreams, all things that connect your physical body with your life and who you are today. After you’re led outside, we’ll give you your printed Movement Portrait visualising how your body moved during these experience.

How would you describe it in three words?

Personal, algorithmic, physicality.

Why do you think the senses are important?

I think more and more we’re living in the cerebral world, where we communicate in text and transfer information between our brain and machines in a symbolic and intentional manner. But so much of social connections and experiencing life happens through the body which is present to us through our senses. I think it’s important to retain this connection in how we think.

I hear you’re sold out, what else can visitors do to experience it?

You are correct, we’re sold out at this stage, but visitors are still welcome to come and see the whole process from the exterior. You can see the shadows of people moving while seeing their portraits as it’s rendered on the monitor.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

One of the sad things about performing all weekend is that I won’t get to see anything else! But we’re going to the Symposium tomorrow (Friday) and I’m particularly looking forward to hearing Iain McGilchrist talk about his book “The Divided Brain” which has been very influential for me the past two years. If I was free at the weekend, I’d definitely see Firnocene, i=u, and many more.

Where would you like to see the sensory area going in the future?

I really want to see Virtual Reality evolve to include the whole body. I’m sure it will, but as we’ve seen with mobile phones, while the technology is continually getting more advanced, people are also continually shaping their minds and bodies around the technology. I hope immersive technologies like VR start to work with all the senses (particularly physical) before we become too used to doing everything in a purely audio-visual world.

 How would you like your craft develop in the future?

We have many ideas but all top secret for the moment...

Oooh! Exciting! And three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

excited, working hard

Anything else you’d like to mention not yet covered?

Yes, although we’re sold out, please do have a look at to find out more about our project, including a gallery of all of our portraits. And join our newsletter to hear about the next show!

Great, thank you both for your time.

As we approach the weekend, many tickets are selling out so don’t delay, have a read and choose your activity to avoid disappointment as many events need pre-booking prior to the weekend. Friday’s Symposium is a great way to get started and see many familiar faces from the blog. We’re all friendly, so come and say hi and be curious.

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Jan Lee: Movement Alphabet from A…  / @janleeuk / @janleeuk

calligraphy, ancient, futures

Hi Jan, please can you introduce yourself and your background?

I’m a movement artist and performer. I also studied Sociology. I feed these together to look at how different cultures codify our physicality and shape how we see ourselves. Working with Tim Murray-Browne, a creative coder, we’re interested in the physicality of our moving body: the calligraphy of our gestures, habits and preferences. We were inspired by the desire we have as humans to make permanent marks on the world around us and the urge to live on through this symbol of ourselves. This is present in the remnants of cave drawings as well as in our newest technology.

How did you get into it all?

I receive a lot of information from body language, intonations of the voice, the touch of a human hand, seeing the softness or tension of the face. As a dancer, musician and living with bilingual parents, I’ve grown up sensitive to listening to the multiple layers of senses as knowledge, information, wisdom.

What do you think people can look forward to with Movement Alphabet?

A space for you to immerse into your imagination, sift through the vivid colours, sensations, impulses of your memories, finding out how this source of creativity can generate a portrait unique to yourself.

How would you describe it in three words?

Calligraphy, ancient, futures.

Why do you think the senses are so important?

They give us freedom to interact with the things beyond our skin.

They allow subjectivity and objectivity to live alongside each other.

They allow autonomy for the individual.

A tool to make social rituals that bind us together.

They give us more ways to ‘think’, to be democratic in our perspectives, not just favour one over the other. 

Three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Regenerations. Reconnections. Revelations.

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Video Interview (Kate Dangerfield/BFI) with Amy Neilson Smith: Tying it All Together at the Symposium

Produced /directed by Kate Dangerfield – PhD Documentary. Funded by BFI and in association with Sense.  

poetic structure in film

The video interview recorded above gives further detail behind those interviews given by Kara Jarrold (from Sense), Kate Dangerfield and Amy Neilson Smith previously (click on their names to be taken to the interviews to learn more).

As the festival fast approaches, one of the first events is this afternoon. The metaphorical wizards from Joseph Clarke School (aka Amy Neilson Smith’s students) are over the moon to be part of Open Senses Festival where they will showcase their recorded and improvised work at their school from 2-3pm today (Thursday 18th May). Please contact Amy on for last minute details if you would like to attend.

Amy promises “not only will your hearts and ears be filled with tales of light and darkness, woes and celebration, isolation and togetherness – but students will be taking the lead and inviting the audience into a mouth watering experience of colour! The textures and smells of chocolate, strawberries, olives, tomatoes and popping candy becoming the live ‘creative process!’”

One star student is completely on board by saying “we don’t have to see the colour we can eat the colour!” Synaesthetic talk in action!

The collated sensorial poetry anthology ‘A Blind Bit of Difference’, is being released soon. It is made up of an explosion of synaesthetic action filled poems. Here’s one sensory poem from it to whet your appetite…

The Braille Machine of Doom!

The brailler is the sorrow of my existence,

a knife scratching deep within my heart.

That mess of metal is a total disgrace,

since the very first day I used it!

Boredom drips off it

like the black filth of oil,

it titters, tormenting, crushing

and torturing me!

The BrailleNote is a cleaner land

than the one before...

The soundless keys pad out

our thoughts in the simplicity of silence...

But still not as perfect as the words straight

from our mouths.

In the video it also details Amy’s work at Sense’s day service Touch Base South East. There she explored sensorial spoken word and guided metaphorical play, one-to-one, with three students with various sensory impairments, additional learning and other associated disabilities.

In collaboration with Sense and the students, Kate Dangerfield designed an innovative ‘accessible film’ project where students take hold of the low-budget film equipment themselves. This way it enables them to show us their unique perspective of the world and their connection to the sensory landscape.

If you would like to hear more of this fascinating work, Kate will discuss it at the Symposium on Friday (tomorrow!) along with multiples showings, at The Trampery on Saturday and Sunday (1.30 – 3.00pm) and at the V&A Museum from 10am – 5.30pm.

Amy will be collaborating with Kate on a full length documentary film: editing and developing the final section using poetic structure within the framework of the film’s aesthetic and audio-visual properties. It will excitingly combine the visual viewpoint from the student with added expression through storytelling and sensory spoken word. 

Amy will also be leading her own live taste-based poetry seminar “An Alternative Logic – tasting a new perspective” at the Symposium on Friday (tomorrow – get your tickets now, limited numbers left), hosted by The Institute of Philosophy.

Amy says you can expect “moulding metaphors into poetic scribblings and using your tongue to taste a new perspective”.

What if you don’t consider yourself a poet? Never fear, we are reassured by Amy that “sensorial stimulation is the key to unlocking your ‘inner poet’. You’ll walk away with a living breathing sensorial creation of your very own, and become part of a larger body of work!”

Come and engage with Amy, Kate and Kara and all the others featured in the interview series at the festival this weekend. It’s so close we can taste it!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Elephants and Volcanoes: Who Wouldn’t Love Them?

reflections, living sculpture, water

Who are Elephants and Volcanoes?

We are Elephants and Volcanoes, a multi-disciplinary artist collective. We are 6 friends from different countries and disciplines loving to make art inspired by one another. We love elephants because they are very powerful but also very empathic, and volcanoes: who doesn’t love them!

What’s the story of how you got involved in the senses?

It came naturally as our disciplines focus on different senses, so when we started working together we realized that a conversation between all these sensorial layers started to happen. It is important to us, because nowadays there is a loss in focus and we want to allow people to be fully present when experiencing our work, bringing back awareness and consciousness.

What can people look forward to with ‘Firnocene’ your exhibition at the festival?

It is a short (around ten minutes) otherworldly one on one experience of sound, smell, taste, touch and vision celebrating water as a unique element connecting and nurturing all life as we know it.

How would you describe it in three words?

Reflections/ Living Sculpture/ Water

I’ll allow that. Why do you think the senses are important?

The senses allow us to communicate that which cannot be said or seen, to create a new poetic space.

And why would you encourage visitors to book onto your experience?

To satisfy their curiosity without getting an answer, to feel and experience something new.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

Crossmodalist Cabaret, Hack the Senses and Movement Alphabet.

For others curious about the Movement Alphabet, we have a current offer where you receive a discount for them when you buy a place on Firnocene.

Where would you like to see the sensory area develop in the future?

To become more integrated in daily life.

Where will Elephants and Volcanoes be travelling to next?

We are planning to tour the installation in Berlin, Zürich and Amsterdam. We are working on a series of other projects amongst which a multi media one for children.

Three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Total Extravaganza Shabang

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Adam Thomason: Food in Sensory Art and Performance

stretch your limits

Hi Adam, please introduce yourself and your involvement with Open Senses?

I’m Adam, I’m a chef who works with Eileih Muir (who is both my partner, and one of the choreographers) at BitterSuite.

BitterSuite was started to make classical music accessible. Now it has developed so that every area matters – including taste which is where I come in! It’s not the main focus however, it’s just part of the whole experience – but a much appreciated one!

I create ideas. I take the feelings, emotions and sound that Steph gives me and see how taste can enhance that part of the music to accentuate the experience as a whole.

Flavour&Some is our company. We won’t be performing in Open Senses this time around, but you can come and experience all the flavours of BitterSuite through the festival.

What can we look forward to with Flavour&Some in the future?

It was a concept where we took to move the food element up to be a larger part, with a lot more choreography (Eileih’s passion).

The idea is that you can have a night out with a meal followed by theatre, which are separate events. We have created a night out where the drink, food and dance/movement/music performance are uniquely combined. It’s a completely different concept that relies heavily on the visual spectacle unlike the blindfolded ‘in your head’ world that BitterSuite evokes.

How did you get into the sensory stratosphere from being a chef?

Eileih first met Steph and helped from the start with BitterSuite. When asked to bring in the food element, with my background as a chef for half my life, I jumped at the chance! It wasn’t even a question if I wanted to do it!

It is a real chef’s dream to create something completely new and be encouraged to push the boundaries of taste and flavour. Spraying scents, changing lights to season the dish, and now creating sometimes unpleasant food to match an uncomfortable piece of music – something you would never do in a commercial kitchen! A great fun challenge: taking a person to another imaginary world through taste and flavour.

What can people look forward to with your tastes at the festival?

Ah, that would be telling, come and experience it for yourself!

How would you describe it in three words?

Stretch your limits.

In particular why do you think the senses are important?

When you highlight all the senses you have a better all-round experience. You can mess around with them and see how they interact with one another. It’s enjoyable to experiment and see what result you get. It’s fun. It makes you think. Be inquisitive and consider what you experience and importantly why you think so.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

 Sarah McCartney's smells at the BitterSuite concert! Smell is such a huge part of my job and I feel I know nothing when I talk to Sarah. A whole new world of incredible thought process I never dreamt of is revealed when I speak with her.

How would you like your work to develop in the future?

I’d like a playground to be imaginative in and grow and expand the ideas with no limits. I would love to take the industry further. Make immersive dining a real thing, not a fad. See how music can season food. I want to create a space where every meal is 'Wow'!

Looking forward to it! And three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

 I can’t wait!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Kate Dangerfield: Accessible Filmmaker

experimental visceral communication

Hi Kate, please introduce yourself and your background?

Hi, in collaboration with Sense, I have been working on the Accessible Film Project, which forms the basis of my practice-based PhD on Accessible Filmmaking at the University of Roehampton. We have been holding workshops at Sense Resource Centres across the country where people with sensory impairments and other complex needs have been exploring and experimenting with film as a means of communication and expression. We were extremely fortunate to receive funding from the BFI Diversity Fund, which has really brought the project to life.

What are you working on for the festival this year?

I will be discussing the Accessible Film Project at the Symposium on Friday at 5.25pm to introduce our film.

Our film will then be shown at the Trampery from 1.30 – 3.00pm and at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 10 – 5.30pm on Saturday and Sunday.

It is a 20-minute taster of the project, which showcases the amazing work created by the participants during the workshops and shows an overview of the research so far. Marcus Innis and I have also been working together on a short experimental film that will be shown alongside his fantastic photography exhibition on Usher Syndrome at Moorfields Eye Hospital on Saturday.

Plenty then! How did you first get interested in the senses?

I have always been interested by the senses and the work I have done in the past has touched on it in different ways, but it was really when I started my research that I became fascinated by the subject. What interests me most at the moment, is how we communicate though all our senses and how this can be expressed and translated through film. With the current political and social climate, I feel it is ever more important to promote the arts and creative expression. By collaborating with people from different fields and from different countries and communities, we can create really exciting inclusive work. Work which focuses on human connections and challenges our common perceptions of the senses.

What three words would you use to describe The Accessible Film Project?

Experimental (and) Visceral Communication.

Sort of three words... What do you think of the festival line-up?

I am completely blown away by all the events of the festival. Sometimes you find one-off events dotted around here and there, but not like this, it's all happening this weekend in London and there's such a buzz about it. It's very inspiring!!!  It feels like Open Senses is the start of something very special!

What else are you looking forward to seeing other than your work?

We'll see a little bit of everything because Samuel Thomson, Judith Rifeser and myself, along with a crew of students from the University of Roehampton will be running around London filming snippets of excitement for a short film to showcase everyone’s fabulous work. We're also inviting audience members to contribute to the film by sending us very short clips of their experience, so do get involved!

Three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Wonderfully intriguing & exciting!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.


Interview with Dr Clare Jonas: Playful Academic Synaesthete

joyful science craftiness

Hi Clare, please tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi I’m a synaesthesia researcher who’s also a synaesthete. The coolest bit of my synaesthesia is that music makes shapes and textures appear for me. The synaesthesia I talk about is music-shape and music-texture, but there are many other different kinds out there.

I am a lecturer in the School of Psychology for the University of East London where I explore multisensory perception (including synaesthesia) and metaphorical and embodied cognition. I am also an advisor and creative consultant for BitterSuite and the Open Senses festival.

Cool and how did you get into researching it?

I’ve been working on research about synaesthesia and multisensory perception since 2007, when I started my PhD in psychology. Synaesthesia is obviously personally important to me as a synaesthete, but it’s also really fascinating for me to find out how other people experience the world.

What can people look forward to with your activity at the festival?

I’m leading Seeing Sound, Tasting Thought. Synaesthesia and The Brain’ at the Trampery (Open Senses Hub) on Saturday afternoon.

You’ll get a mix of discussions about the science behind synaesthesia and the senses and some activities that are designed to help you understand what the world is like for synaesthetes. We’re going to sculpt emotions in plasticine!

I’ll also be demonstrating a simple sensory experiment to people at King's Cross station on Sunday afternoon from 2pm and collecting money in aid of Sense UK

How would you describe it in three words?

Joyful science craftiness

Why do you think it’s important to discuss the senses?

I love talking with people about science and the senses! From a science perspective, it’s really important to learn how humans make sense of their perceptions because they are the filter through which we understand the world. From a personal perspective, I find engaging with my senses very soothing.

Why should visitors be intrigued and come to your workshop?

You’re going to learn so much about yourself and your senses, and you will have a whale of a time doing it. Also, I am extremely enthusiastic and fond of terrible jokes, so if you like either of those things you’re in for a treat.

Great! And what else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

I’m really looking forward to BitterSuite’s performance – I’ve been to many of their previous performances and always come away having experienced something new and thrilling. As an Austen fan, I’m also hoping to find the time to drop in to 'Pride, Prejudice and Perceptions' at the British Academy.

Where would you like to see the sensory area progress to in the future?

One of the things I think about a lot is the future of the senses. What new senses might humans evolve? What senses can we make for ourselves using machine interfaces? I’d love to see Open Senses explore this even more.

How would you like your work to develop in the future?

I’d really like to collaborate with an artist to make a workshop that’s about synaesthetic art as well as synaesthetic science. There are some artistic components to my existing workshop, but working with someone with expertise in that area would be wonderful.

Three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Full of excitement!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Eugene Feygelson: i=u and what it’s all about

shared musical creativity

Hi, can you please introduce yourself and your company I=U?

Hi, I’m Eugene, Brooklyn-born musician. Being raised in that urban oasis of diversity directly inspired me to create i=u. I wanted to create events that brought to life the psychology of how we interact. For example, coming from a classical music family, there wasn’t much improvisation in the house – and yet – improvisation was core to many of the great classical musicians: Beethoven, Bach, Mozart.  No one was really programming improvised classical music events – so I went on to lead this events organisation in London and New York.

So what does i=u mean?

i=u is three different things:

·         i(mprovisation) = u(niversal). We are all creative. A bartender is creative when swinging a bottle around the bar or a lawyer as he composes a contract.

·         i=u is about listening to another person, to listen and engage. Listen, improvise, then listen again. It’s like a feedback loop of listening.

·         Ensure both the performer and audience are mutually involved in the creation of the performance. It’s all about the connection and exchange. In the end there’s no leader and audience, the sense of leadership has been dispersed and everyone contributes to the end creation.

How did it all start?

It started with sound. Senses enhance the world around us, sounds stimulate the brain. You can take away the visual, close your eyes when you listen to classical music and experience the sound. That’s BitterSuite (which I have also been involved in).

So much is focused on our eyes, focusing on the visual over anything else. There is so much more though. Think of a coffee shop: so many options for engagement with the sound, smell, spatial awareness, taste…

I first became aware of the importance of the senses when at 19, I had a cross roads moment when I was a bit bored of playing the violin. I decided to pursue a more academic research focus investigating where music and language fit into human evolution – basic question was like – why am I spending 8 hours a day with this wooden box – what’s driving our interest in music? In the end, I completed a PhD in how improvising musicians use non-verbal communication to communicate ideas at KCL – sort of a more applied aspect from this language and music interest. 

What will i=u be bringing to Open Senses this year?

i=u will have several areas at the festival showcasing a series of workshops, events and concerts.

A wide range of improvised and musical activities I’m really excited by including great artists such as Cosmo Sheldrake and Roscius who create textures and layers of sound with others. Roscius has collected percussion instruments from all over the world – and he samples and improvises world minimal disco with these amazing instruments. It’s magical.

The Rich Mix programming is more upbeat – Shoreditch Church on May 20th will be more reflective – non-alcoholic – mindfulness oriented.

In the lead up we have #improvaday Instagram campaign led by percussionist Maria Finkelmeier encouraging you to engage with wherever you are and take 15 seconds from your day to have some fun with percussive improvisation.

How would you describe it in three words?

Shared musical creativity

Why do you think this is all so important?

We need to be situated in the body. When we are, we are more aware, more integrated and have more care for our environment. Senses are for engagement with other people, animals and our environment. We really listen and really smell. It grounds and situates us.

There are Arts Festivals but this is different in that it explores headspace versus ‘sense’ space.

A huge proponent of this is Ivan Andrade – who will be doing workshops at Rich Mix both weekend days – he draws from Grinberg Method to channel fear as a source of creativity – but it’s all about how the body interprets fear. How it changes and shifts our physiology.

Why should guests visit your performances?

Continuing with that thread. It’s a chance to become present using your ears and your bodies; to engage and realise your creative potential within. There is a freedom; an opportunity to work in an open way which is a rare thing. Any of the activities are great ways to become present.

You can practise your own musicality in advance if you get involved with #improvaday on Instagram. In only a few weeks find yourself much more present. You discover things around you that you might never have noticed before.

We will be selecting a bunch of #improvaday entries and displaying them - so you might see your work exhibited along with others’ work.

There are a wide variety of offerings until the early hours including opportunities to relax and chill in amongst the bustle. We’re centrally located with many of the other activities in Shoreditch so pop along and see as many as you can.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

BitterSuite, which I have been involved with; SenCity; Moorfield’s Eye Hospital and other pop up events to surprise! The workshop with Deep Throat Choir is gonna be awesome!

Where would you like to Open Senses in the future?

I hope it becomes a more regular yearly or bi-annual event. It is really important especially in a city like London where it reminds us of our surroundings. We need this to invest time in becoming more grounded and more situated.

What’s next for i=u?

i=u will be touring, spreading the music and improving ways to communicate. We’re going to Barcelona in October for example. We would love to have a devoted space to work and create. Tour the world to gather communicate and share findings through improvising with fellow humans.

Three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Visionary, innovative, experiential.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

'She Can Just Whistle' – it is an incredible film I’ve been involved with – and its gaining momentum. The project is about how women and whistling or women whistling have been prohibited in a variety of work, sacred and public spaces – and how this has transferred to a new code of behaviour – one we aren’t even really aware of.

The film-maker,Thea Stallwood, is amazing and will actually be lending a hand in the festival – talk to her! It’s just such a great idea. We had the screening a few weeks back. I’m really excited to be sharing this narrative and story with the world!

Come join #improvaday before it all kicks off this weekend!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.