O3R8A2255 - Copyur patron: Professor Alice Roberts

The Anti-boredom Campaign is amazing – a truly wonderful, positive thing”

Professor Alice Roberts is an academic, doctor, writer and broadcaster interested in the structure of humans, how we function, and our place in the wider environment. Alice made her television debut back in 2011, as a human bone specialist on Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ and since regularly presented BBC2’s ‘Coast’ and ‘Digging for Britain’ as well as writing and presenting a range of series for BBC2 including ‘The Incredible Human Journey’ and several Horizon programmes. Alice has written seven popular science books with ‘The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being’ shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize in 2015.

Who are we?  The Anti-boredom Campaign has come from scientist-turned-artist, Dr Lizzie Burns.  She describes herself as a ‘Creative Specialist’ and together with Agent of Wonder, Dr Matthew McFall they use wonder, curiosity, interest, making and creating to engage and inspire people of all ages…

We are working with an advisory panel  which includes an ethicist, neuroscientist, a doctor and a writer and former patient, together with a health researcher and curator who all want to help make a difference to those in hospital.  Watch this space!

Dr Lizzie Burns is a science-based artist and creative specialist, and a visiting academic in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford.  Following a doctorate and research fellowship in cancer research at the University of Oxford, Lizzie has been working as a ‘science-based artist‘ since 2002 using artwork and workshops to explore the beauty and wonder of what we are. Commissions include the British Council, the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council and the Royal College of Pathologists, and works regularly in hospitals including UCH in London funded by the UCH Cancer Fund. Lizzie is particularly interested in the brain with illustrations, workshops and has a fascination for boredom… Lizzie is working on a second play, ‘The Deadline’ and regularly offering online Origami to encourage adults to get started on their own creative path…

Dr Matt McFall is an Agent of Wonder. He holds two doctorates- one in English Literature and another in the Learning Sciences (Education and Psychology) focussing on how wonder can help us learn. Matt has helped create many Cabinets of Curiosities, Happenings, and enchanting spaces for learning (including The Wonder Room and The Maze at NUSA [‘Every school should have one’ — The Guardian ]. His anthology, The Little Book of Awe and Wonder: A Cabinet of Curiosities for Your Pocket, is bursting with fascinating things. Matt’s other interests include conjuring, calligraphy, labyrinths, and board (but never bored) games.

Our Advisory Panel

Dr Charlotte Burn is a Senior Lecturer in Animal Welfare and Behaviour Science in the Royal Veterinary College. She is a biologist with research interests into improving welfare for captive animals, including understanding boredom.  Dr Burn published her work into ‘bestial boredom’ in Animal Behaviour, picked up by national papers including The Times, as well as popular science blogs and podcasts. Charlotte reveals boredom as a welfare issue, with a common need for enriched environments for animals, including ourselves in captivity.  “Persistent boredom is distressing and damaging in humans, but barely studied in animals. However, as with bored humans, animals in barren conditions seek stimulation: even unpleasant stimulation, excessive bright light, or food they know makes them sick.  Research on bored humans and sensory-deprived animals suggests that boredom has biological roots…

Professor Morten L Kringelbach is the director of the Hedonia Research Group based at the Universities of Oxford and Aarhus. His prize-winning research seeks to understand the pleasure system (hedonia) in the human brain to find the best ways to increase well-being (eudaimonia). His research uses whole-brain computational models to understand the pleasure afforded by, for example, infants, music and flavour, and features regularly in newspapers, magazines, radio and television. He has a special interest in improving the public understanding of science and to link science with art; for example exploring “The Writer’s Brain” (with Dame AS Byatt) and creating sculptures such as “Pain/Pleasure” from brain data (with Annie Cattrell). He has written 14 books including “The Pleasure Center” and “Emotion. Pleasure and pain in the brain”. He is a fellow of The Queen’s College, Oxford, of the Association for Psychological Science and a board member of the world’s first Empathy Museum

Dr Philippa Matthews is a clinical research fellow funded by the Wellcome Trust, and an honorary consultant in Clinical Infection.  Philippa is working on a study of chronic Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, with a particular focus on populations in Southern Africa.  She is a keen teacher, and has recently written a book (Tropical Medicine Notebook, ISBN: 9780198737773). She is also interested in promoting open access publication and new ways of sharing and visualising scientific data, working alongside publishers and academic IT. Together with Lizzie, she has developed a public engagement project, ‘Viral Footprints‘ funded by the Wellcome Trust focusing on patients in hospital and school children.

Jeremy Smith is a multi-award winning journalist, editor, broadcaster and blogger based in Oxford.  Following an accident, and 11 months in hospital Jeremy was commissioned to write an article for The Daily Telegraph in 2016 about his experiences. In the article Jeremy describes “boredom is, as many patients will attest, as close to torture as any Dark Ages tormentor could inflict“.  Jeremy is keen to help bring improvements through the ABC and has collaborated with the Empathy Museum, and written about boredom in the BMJ.

Dr Daniel K Sokol is a medical ethicist and a barrister specialising in clinical negligence.  He is an award-winning columnist for the British Medical Journal (‘Ethics Man’) and author of three books on medical ethics and law.   He has sat on various committees, including those of the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Justice, and the Royal College of Surgeons.  In 2006, Daniel wrote for the BBC News and describes “when I started on the ’rounds’, I was struck by the stultifying sense of boredom“, and “I wonder why the NHS, ostensibly so patient-centred, does not do more to improve the patient experience in hospitals?”

Our collaborators

Ruth Charity is a curator who runs Artlink, an ongoing arts and music programme for the John Radcliffe, Churchill and Horton hospitals within Oxford University Hospitals. Artlink aims to create attractive and welcoming hospital environments for patients, visitors and staff, and help reduce stress and anxiety. The programme includes integrated arts commissions, arts/science collaborations, a temporary exhibitions programme, music on wards, artist residencies and workshops and a staff arts club.  Ruth has developed and managed innovative programmes including BREATHe and a tapestry inspired collaborating with Circadian Neurosciences with funding from the Wellcome Trust.

Dr Tina Kendall is a Lecturer in Film and Media Studies at the Anglia Ruskin University.  Tina has a PhD in French Studies before specialising in film focusing on extreme cinema including exploring disgust and boredom. Currently Tina is writing a book around film and boredom, with publications on boredom. Since lock-down, Tina worked on an outreach project as part of the British Science Festival in Chelmsford in 2020 with young people aged 15-24 years on ‘The Boredom Project’. Tina encouraged young people to explore their experiences of boredom under lockdown and to celebrate their creativity as a way to combat boredom and for their voices to be heard during this time.

Associated practitioners:

Zulay Newell is a chemical engineer from Venezuela. In 2004, she came to the UK to improve her English and met her husband in London; they now live in Southport with their daughter. After time in hospital Zulay’s passion for Origami was reignited and she developed a love for crafts, later becoming a craft tutor. In 2015, with friends Helen and Kate, Zulay set up Mobile Craft 4U, a Community Interest Company devoted to teaching craft workshops designed to aid recovery and improve wellbeing. Mobile Craft 4U works with different groups in the community, especially disadvantaged ones. Zulay has compiled a Positive Origami resource which can be downloaded here.Positive Origami by Zulay Newell May 2017

Angela Loveridge is an Award winning Origamist and is a member of the British Origami Society and has been folding for 15 years. She appeared on Radio 5 Live and Radio 3, and has worked with schools, museums and vulnerable people. She appeared at Galstobury folding a Thousand Peace Cranes. For more details check out her website: – Global Mobile Origami

Daniela Izquierdo is currently working on an interdisciplinary PhD into Origami as a tool to manage stress and contribute to emotional well-being at the University of Durham.  Her background is in Industrial Design with ongoing projects including development of products for cognitive stimulation and creative material for those suffering from dementia as part of the Mexican Association of Alzheimer’s AMAES.  Daniela helped co-found MadridDF Design Solutions with Spanish colleague, Mariano Ramirez with emotional and socially responsible design projects. Daniela also works as an independent designer which includes Origami for the Ikigai paper studio.