Becky Shaw

Hiding in Plain Sight


Output: Digital or Visual Media

‘Hiding in Plain Sight’ explores the relationship between staff, space, institution and the visibility of care work, in the disintegrating UK healthcare system. Building on Shaw’s record of live art in healthcare, the work proposes to re-position art practice, not as bringer of well-being to patients, or as environmental enhancement, but as shared critical inquiry with staff. The research is situated between arts and health discourse, live art inquiry into body and environment, and a reconsideration of institutional critique for everyday infrastructure.

‘Hiding in Plain Sight’ is a body of work including live, photographic, filmic (with Rose Butler) and written publication. Shaw worked with nursing research students over ten weeks. The engagement with students took place at the Florence Nightingale Museum and a simulated ward learning environment in Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital were used as studio and site. Photographic, assemblage and performance strategies were used to explore visibility, movement, performance and roles. This developed into a live work where staff played hide and seek, using cameras as a tool for ‘seeking’. The footage includes moments where the boundaries between bodies and ward, carer and environment, are indistinct. Walter Benjamin’s text, ‘A Child Hiding’, was used as a resource to aid discussion.

Works were exhibited at Somerset House, London, for the 2016 UTOPIA festival, commissioned by
a consortium including Kings College London, Somerset House, Courtauld Institute and the AHRC. An accompanying book (ed. Frances Williams) includes texts by Shaw and three participating nursing staff. A video documentary was commissioned by Quiet Voice films. Dissemination includes a conference paper at ‘Putting Space into Action’, University of Huddersfield. The work offers a form of escape from, or a way to re-form, institutional forces without leaving the institution; and a way to work with others to develop shared forms of material critical practice.

Research Output

Hiding in Plain Site [Extract]

This project contains further videos that can accessed via the full case study below.

This collection of images displays the outputs from this project. Find out more details in the full case study below.

Research Method

The students reflected on the relationship between these two objects: one distanced and objective, the other focused on immediate discomfort in the individual body. The students proposed this reflected the life of a nursing researcher.

Key Methodologies:

Full Project Output

REF '21

To learn more about the output, methods and dissemination of this work, explore the full project submission.

Other Projects By

Becky Shaw