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Lectures - Spring 2011

Spring 2011


A series of four practical all-day workshops on the theme of Ancient skills from the East for modern times in the West were held on the following Saturdays from 10am till 5pm:
16 April, 7 and 21 May, 4 June

and two stimulating lectures on Saturday afternoons from 2pm till 5pm:
14 May - Madness explained: psychosis and human nature
18 June - The Science of ageing: how we can all live longer


All-day Workshops - Ancient skills from the East for modern times in the West

People in the East have – over millennia – developed a range of practical crafts that have helped them flourish during the toughest of times. In this series of hands-on day-long workshops ICR presents a small selection of such traditional skills – adapted for use in our lives today in the West.

16 April – Massage

The art of massage reaches beyond the recorded history of the oldest civilizations and is one of the oldest and certainly most natural methods of medical care. It was used as long ago as 300 BC as a therapy in the Far East and paintings in Egyptian tombs also depict people being massaged.

This workshop will show you how to relax and re-energize yourself or your partner with simple step-by-step massage sequences for use on shoulder, head and hands, devised to ease away mental fatigue and physical tension.

7 May – Miniature painting

The art of miniature painting gained prominence in India in the 11th and 12th cen- turies when people started developing manuscripts to store valuable knowledge. With the spread of Islam the artists of the Arab, Persian and Mogul worlds gave us their own unique book paintings.

This workshop will look at some of the history and components of this exquisite art form and show you the basic skills needed to make a simple miniature painting of your own. No previous art experience needed.

21 May – Storytelling

The art of storytelling evolved down the centuries, and storytellers have been an integral part of tribal and nomadic communities and societies in the East. The stories were used therapeutically, to store information, to solve problems, to deepen understanding and to entertain.

The workshop will demonstrate something of the reach and power of stories and will offer basic skills – such as how to tell stories, where to find them and how to remember them. Though we will tell and experience some stories during the day, the emphasis will be on communication, not ‘performance’.

4 June – Felt making

The art of felt making is possibly the oldest of all manmade textiles, dating back over 9000 years. It still plays an important role in the lives of many nomadic peoples in Mongolia and has recently become popular in the West.

In this workshop we will explore some aspects of this ancient craft and learn simple felting skills that can be developed and enjoyed at home.

14 May – Professor Richard Bentall
Madness explained: psychosis and human nature

This lecture will be held at The Franklin Wilkins Building, The Waterloo Campus, King/’s College London, Stamford Street, London SE1.

In the last twenty years concerted efforts have been made to discover genes for severe mental illness but, despite enormous investment in this line of research, the findings have been mainly negative. Meanwhile, despite limited funding, considerable evidence has been collected implicating social adversities as causes of psychosis. Despite this, many mainstream psychiatrists continue to insist that severe mental illness is eighty per cent due to our genes. These misunderstandings will be explored in this lecture.

18 June – Professor Tom Kirkwood CBE
The Science of ageing: how we can all live longer

This lecture will be held at The Khalili Lecture Theatre, The Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies, 10 Thornhaugh Street, London WC1.

Life expectancy is increasing by 5 hours a day in the UK and by more than this in many developing countries. At the same time, science is beginning at last to unravel the deep mysteries of the ageing process. Ageing is more malleable than was previ- ously thought, arising not from a genetic programme but from gradual accumulation of damage. How should we prepare for an ageing world, and how can we make it better?


Pat Williams is a writer and psychotherapist. She was director of the former College of Storytellers, and gives regular workshops around Britain and elsewhere, most often on how stories can be helpful to people in therapy.

Clare Maxwell-Hudson is a leading authority on massage widely recognised for her contribution to the health sciences. Her books include the best selling The Complete Book of Massage. She spent three decades studying and researching massage and health lore in many different cultures, bringing techniques from the East to the West. During her travels she also pursued her love of Central Asian textiles and is currently researching the craft of felt making and its use both traditionally in the East and in Western contemporary fashion.

Gill Whitworth is a painter with a long-standing interest in the Eastern Arts and the traditional skills that produced them. She has studied Islamic, Indian and Chinese art history at SOAS and the V&A and miniature painting techniques at the Princes School for Traditional Arts.

Richard Bentall holds chairs in clinical psychology at both Bangor and Liverpool universities. His research focuses on the psychological mechanisms underlying symptoms of severe mental illness such as auditory hallucinations, paranoid delusions and mania. He is the author of Madness explained: Psychosis and human nature (Penguin, 2003) and Doctoring the mind: Why psychiatric treatments fail (Penguin, 2003).

Tom Kirkwood, CBE, heads The Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University. He is the author of Time of Our Lives: The Science of Human Ageing (1999) and The End of Age: Why Everything About Ageing Is Changing (2001), and co-author of Chance, Development, and Ageing (2000, together with Caleb E. Finch).