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Review: Brain Container

On a beautiful Indian summer’s afternoon, I strolled through Claremont Park to the Community Centre for the run-up to the launch of Brain Container. The centre was packed with people involved and interested in knowing more about this creation.

Artist Jo Berry, who has been a professional artist for the past five years, described her inspiration for this new artwork. As an artist she particularly likes the use of colour, as demonstrated in her previous illumination artwork, the Fluted Pylons which were commissioned for the 2012 centenary display. For this latest project she worked with Blackpool Arts Service, Arts for Health groups in both Blackpool and Nottingham, where she is artist in residence at Lakeside, the public arts centre at Nottingham University, Blackpool Council’s Illuminations team and psychiatrist Dr Lena Palaniyappan.

Dr Palaliyappan, who works at Nottingham University, specialises in psychosis in young people. As part of their treatment, he studies images of the brain in order to gain a better understanding of their condition. He has worked extensively with Jo during this project, and was present at the event. Jo praised all who had been involved and the beautiful artwork produced by them. After the informative and interesting introduction by Jo, we were all provided with hotpot and, of course, the obligatory red cabbage, before being taken to Queen’s Promenade.

In true Illuminations switch on style, the famous stand and switch were present. After a slight delay, during which we all had time to take a good look inside and take photographs, it was time for the actual switch on. The countdown from ten began amongst an enthusiastic crowd and then, Jo flicked the switch. Sadly, it wasn’t dark enough to get the full effect of this stunning creation, but nevertheless we all peered in excitedly.

The art is displayed within an old container from the Illuminations depot, painted purple outside and white within. Looking inside revealed an inspiring display of colour and light. Thirty six acrylic discs cascade from the roof, moving so slightly it is almost imperceptible. The discs contain brightly coloured images from MRI scans side lit by purple lighting to create an almost magical myriad of colour, to add to the effect there is music from composer Angela Slater and a poem has been written by James Nunn-Menson.

Words do not do this wonderful creation the justice it deserves. It has to be seen to be understood and appreciated. It is situated on Queen’s Promenade opposite the former Miner’s Home. It will shine and enthral nightly until 9 November and is definitely worth a walk from the car.

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