The science of everyday

Science permeates our everyday lives, from work to hobbies, influencing us in ways we are not always conscious of. Elevate artist David Davies recalls conversations with patients that reveal this hidden science.

“Memories of working lives can bring understanding between people…”

Making connections with conversation is so important to our wellbeing, as is remembering things that we’ve enjoyed in our lives. Often to my surprise, that’s where science comes in – the detail behind people’s jobs or hobbies. How things work – in building, textiles, farming, fishing, engineering, nursing, caring, cooking, cycling, antiques, gardening, reading, music, dance, art – very quickly broadens our horizons, sparks our curiosity and fills gaps, bringing an understanding between people, often with tremendous fun and lively memories.

Here are some extracts, told with enthusiasm and pride, from creative conversations I’ve had with patients in hospital over the years about work and hobbies. (All names have been changed to protect identities)

Rita was a photographic colourist until colour film made that job obsolete. “It was fascinating and related a lot to water colour painting. The results were always personal and a cross between art and photography. I think this hand-colourist look has become fashionable again, but using hi-tech nowadays”.

“I found school hard,” Dennis told me, “but I was a retained fireman for 35 years. I was fascinated by all the equipment: the pumps, hose fixings and how everything was maintained so you could rely on it.”

“We worked as a team, using block and tackle.”

Iris: “My younger brother Sam was a very good engineer. He could take anything apart and put it back together – a sense of being able to know what was wrong and mend things. When we were children, I often helped him.”

Stan was a Navy photographer in Malta: 2My work was cutting edge at the time. My job was to photograph target shelling after training events. It was aerial work using huge 5 inch film width.”

Margaret told me, “This early 1940s photo reminds me of me and my father – I was about seven or eight. I used to help him on the farm with everything including mechanical things. Nothing came for free, there was so much to be done.”

From old photographs, George was able to talk about his masonry work: “You had to consider the size and weight of the undressed stone, and the dressed blocks – how you were going to move them safely. We worked as a team, using block and tackle and we used metal churns to make trestles. Sand, lime, cement mixes were 12:4:1 ratio.”

Helen had a huge interest in live music and had seen The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and The Beatles play live. “I’ve noticed how the sound systems have improved over the years, the mixing desks and speaker systems.”

“…the patterns are like music…”

Derek remembered early tractors and paraffin fuel: 2It smelt terrible, you could smell it everywhere. We used mechanical rakes and harvesting and threshing machines. We used three and two tine (prong) pitch forks – they were the only two tools you had and their design made them multi-purpose.”

Ellen had a career as a scientist and a love for psychology, watercolour painting and poetry. 2I love how these things link – one thing makes you understand the other better.”

Stan spoke about his work with parts and accessories for the car industry. “The rhythm of car manufacturing, the assembly lines, of supplying accessories was so familiar and great fun.”

Ann had taught Latin and loved language and dialect. “I enjoy the sounds that words make especially in poems – the patterns are like music”.



More from David and the Elevate artists

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We love to include some of your own reflections in future posts and in our monthly print edition ‘Elevate your mood’ or quarterly printed tabloid ‘Take the time’. Why not write a few lines, try a poem or send us picture on the general theme of spring and new beginnings? Email to ArtCare or send to ArtCare, Block 29, Salisbury District Hospital, Salisbury SP2 8BJ.