Pause, consider, how every single aspect of our bodies need oxygen to survive. This happens because we breathe; the brain, as it detects the amount of oxygen present in our bodies, ensuring they will run efficiently.
Speaking to the vital importance of breath itself and the atmosphere we all share, Catch Your Breath, a new exhibition at the Royal College of Physicians Museum at London April 2 – September 20, 2019, will seek to map the unique role of respiration in both human life and culture.
Today it is a medical fact one in five people in the United Kingdom has breathing difficulties or respiratory illness; respiratory disease is the third biggest cause of death in that country.
Yet, despite this startling revelation for many people breathlessness as a condition is, like the air, invisible. Seeking to break through silence and stigma, from ‘a babies’ first cries to our final dying gasps, breath is our constant companion on the journey through life.
Occasionally harrowing, often hopeful, never less than intriguing and frequently inspiring, the exhibition will combine new research with contemporary art and some extraordinary objects, to provide extensive information on the ‘art, history and experience of breathing and breathlessness.
It will bring together the voices of patients and clinicians from past to present and objects on show will include the earliest ever stethoscopes to an advertisement for ‘asthma cigarettes’.
The display and the many events planned, will also reveal how and why breathing is so much more than a bodily function.
It’s a long time now since the Mountebank thrived, because there was little or no control over the practice of medicine. They used a public platform to espouse their abilities and performed their cures in a type of carnival style act.
The Quack usually rode around on horseback, dispensing pills and plasters entertaining and offering alms and free drinks so that he could gain a foothold among the unwary.
Established in 1518 by a Royal Charter from King Henry VIII, the Royal College of Physicians of London is the oldest medical college in England, which from its foundation to the present day has been ‘patient centred and clinically led.
Its charter was all about driving improvement in the diagnosis of disease, the care of individual patients and health of the whole population, both in the UK and across the globe’.
Breathing, like many of our body functions, is one of those ongoing aspects of who we are that we more than often take for granted. A special opening event for Catch Your Breath will feature enlightening talks by the Professor of Medical Humanities at Durham University Jane MacNaughton together with Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol, Havi Carel. Both have a considerable amount of expertise in their fields.
Did you know there is a history of Singing for Breathing? On Tuesday 30 April 2019, the Royal College of Physicians Museum has partnered with the Singing for Breathing groups at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, to present a special performance; and there is more to discover.
Breathe easy, stand firm, ‘Catch Your Breath,’ and find out about how you can improve your life.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2019
Royal College of Physicians Museum
Catch Your Breath,
April 2 – September 20, 2019
Royal College of Physicians
11 St Andrews Place, London, NW1 4LE
Supported by the Wellcome Trust, by combining research with artist commissions and objects from RCP collections and beyond, exhibitions at the Royal College of Physicians Museum, are designed to expand public knowledge about our bodies, how they work and why they work the way they do.