5 minutes with On The Mend

On The Mend, founded by Sophia and Mathilda, is a creative studio whose mission it is to erase healthcare inequalities. It’s one of the only creative studios in the UK to focus solely on health awareness. Their bespoke events, workshops and artworks are designed to educate people on the societal impacts on health and well-being. They provide a platform to empower those under-represented by the current healthcare system. 

 

How did you come up with the name?

This really did take a while. Sophia and I (mainly Sophia because I am terrible at this kind of thing) were brainstorming for so long but none of the names we were coming up with felt right. We wanted something punchy and fun that would leave a bit of ambiguity and space for us to explore what we were about. ‘On the mend’ felt right as soon as it came up and we’re still not sick of it so I guess that’s a good thing.

What’s the project, who founded it? Why?

On The Mend was founded by Sophia who I met in university at Central Saint Martins. She wanted to set up a reading group for students exploring arts in health.

Somehow, a few months later we were already working on projects in the real world, and here we are now, a creative studio erasing healthcare inequalities. It all went very very quickly, so we’re improvising everything and learning as we go.

What’s an average day like for you?

This really depends on the day to day. I’m still finishing my Masters and we both freelance on our own projects, so it’s always changing. However, we have currently joined Camden Collective, which is a charity that offers free hot-desking space to creative starts-ups, which means we now have an office space! We are very excited about this and from now on we will mostly work from there, which means lots of laptop time, brainstorming, planning and designing. I think this is actually one of our favourite things about what we do, that every day is different, we never know what to expect!

Who are you inspired by?

We mostly find inspiration for all our projects by talking to people and by asking ourselves questions about the current gaps or issues we can identify in our current health system. We always work with and listen to different communities to create work which accurately represents them, so that has a huge impact on what projects we actually bring to life. There are also so many great organisations that work in arts in health, such as Hospital Rooms, Paintings in Hospitals, Imperial Health Charity, Wellcome Collection and many many more, which is very inspiring.

Tell us about your favourite projects that you’ve worked on.

I think my personal favourite is one of our latest projects called ‘Demistify: Charing Cross Hospital Art Collection as Perfume’. This project looked into the sense of smell to demystify memory, showing how important smelling is to our everyday experiences. We partnered with Imperial Health Charity and turned the hospital art collection into perfumes. This provided an inclusive and unusual way to enjoy the amazing art collection at Charing Cross. The response was very positive and people were very intrigued about what we were doing. Some of the smells were loved and some were very hated, which was very interesting to observe. We quickly got a sense of how different people related to an artwork when the sense of smell was linked to it. It became easier to relate the artwork to personal stories and memories and we had so many beautiful conversations with several outpatients. Triggering the sense of smell was a way for patients to have the opportunity share little details of their lives if they wanted to, or to focus on what they were smelling and try to discover all the different ingredients used to make the scents. We left the event feeling humbled and honoured to have shared these conversations with patients, staff, carers and all the other visitors who came along to our event. We really hope to do more events like this!

You can find also find out about all of our projects on our website – www.onthemend.me

What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

 We probably need more advice than we can give, although we have already learnt so much in this short amount of time! I will share two of the lessons we’ve learnt, which I think are some of the most valuable. Firstly, it is that you have to get out there to get what you want. Nothing will come handed out to you and you’re the only person that can make the things you want happen so go talk to people, contact people through social media, go to events and exhibitions. Don’t be afraid to tell everyone about you do, as they may be able to help you or even commission you. The second is that you’re only as good as your last project, so spend time working and creating projects that you love, that you think have value and that you will be proud to share with those around you and with future clients. So all in all, be a good person, make good work and you will attract good people and good projects.

What’s happening in the future?

 Hopefully many more projects, like events, workshops, campaigns, branding and more! We’re still so new so we love experimenting with new projects, new clients and new spaces. We have a few events lined up in design spaces, one being Emerge Festival on the 28th and one later on in the Reading Room at Wellcome Collection. We’re also working on a bigger project, which is more long-term than our previous ones. It will be a collaborative project with a group of blind or visually-impaired people about typography, braille and materials evoking different emotions. Lot’s more to come about this on our social media, so make sure you’re following us on there for all the updates!

 

You can play On The Mend’s Life Size Operation Game at The Old Operating Theatre on the Saturday night of the festival.