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THROB: art-meets-science to tackle sexual health taboos

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“I want to get to grips with issues that affect our search for a fulfilling, satisfying and happy sexual life. We want to make the audience laugh at the absurdity and cry at the tragedy of the subject. We also want this work to push new artistic boundaries in a wider theatre and society context. Perhaps even banish a few taboos along the way…?” Professor Sue Williams

Sue Williams at work on Throb

Visual artist Sue Williams is bringing together the artistic and medical world to lift the taboo of talking about sexual dysfunction. The result is THROB, a series of conversations, exhibitions and performances in October and November 2015 and February 2016 that will combine painting and drawing installation, music, poetry and dance.

At the heart of the unique art-meets-science encounter is the partnership between the multi-award winning artist and erectile dysfunction specialist and cardiologist Dr Nick Ossei-Gerning who brings his expert knowledge and the shared experience of his patients to the ground-breaking initiative.

Sue leads a creative team that comprises poet Rhian Edwards, composer Pete Wyer, dancers and choreographers Romain Guion and Marta Zollet at four events in October and November in Cardiff and Newport. THROB is co-directed by Roy Campbell-Moore.

From Mick Jagger’s ‘lack of satisfaction’ to Shakespeare’s tragic Othello who can’t consummate his marriage to Desdemona, artists have long explored the subject of sexual vulnerability. 

Through exploring issues related to erectile dysfunction I want to gain knowledge of the emotional impact of sexual and family relationships, and how both males and females are made vulnerable through the lack of open conversation and communications about this difficult subject.

As an artist whose work deals with many taboos of human communication, I have worked with my collaborators to explore some of the pain, pleasure, disease and psychological issues that cause dysfunctional sexual health and identity. Each artist has brought a mature, yet sharp understanding to the work and they have created an innovative and perceptive set of artistic responses to the theme.”

At the exhibitions and performances in October and November 2015 and February 2016 everyone can experience the work generated by myself and the other artists. The medical community and opinion formers will also be invited to join us and the audiences and take part in the follow-up discussions on various related taboo subjects to articulate and identify a more open approach to the subject.

Professor Sue Williams Sue Williams at work



“It is my passion as a clinician to raise the profile of Erectile Dysfunction (ED) and to create a better understanding of the trauma that this problem can cause to many as a harbinger of heart disease, as well as its devastating effects upon men and womens’ relationships.

ED continues to be a taboo subject, leaving many to suffer in silence. My vision for this collaboration with Sue is that it is a perfect opportunity to team up with artists, scientists, medical professionals, political figureheads and patients to bring to the fore new thinking and ways of communicating about this crucial subject.

Through this I would like the work to reach a substantial public audience and contribute to a change in both the public and professional attitude to the condition so that patients are no longer confused and disturbed needlessly and encouraged to seek out the help that is available”

Dr Nick Ossei-Gerning

Funded by Arts Council of Wales, supported by University Wales Trinity Saint David, University Hospital Wales, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, National Museum & Galleries of Wales, The Riverfront, Arts Active and yourmindseye

Supported by:

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