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Awakening perspectives: art exhibition marks World Sleep Day

6th March 2024

An exhibition of objects, writings and soundscapes, all created by people suffering from sleep disorders, will go on show next week to mark World Sleep Day – an international day raising awareness of the importance of sleep health.

The Reimagining Sleep Exhibition opens at Newcastle City Library on Thursday 14 March and invites audiences to consider what sleep means to them, as well as contribute their own sleep-related experiences.

The exhibition is part of the Understanding and Reimagining Sleep and Its Disorders project coordinated by Dr Diletta De Cristofaro, Assistant Professor in English Literature at Northumbria University, and artist Chiara Dellerba, in partnership with The Sleep Charity, and funded by the Wellcome Trust.

It will feature work on the themes of sleep and parenting, sleep and aging, and sleep and menopause, all produced during workshops held last year with members of the public who identified as suffering with a sleep disorder.

It follows the launch of the online exhibition last year, also featuring work produced as part of the project.

Dr De Cristofaro said: “In a world that all too often frames sleep either as a waste of time or as a mere tool for productivity, this exhibition invites viewers to consider and reimagine their relationship with sleep.

“As a visitor, you’ll be invited to give your input and help us grow the exhibition’s collections. Our goals are to foster wellbeing through creativity and to connect and involve multiple voices, in order to facilitate knowledge-sharing around sleep.”

The exhibition launches the day before World Sleep Day, which takes place on Friday 15 March, during which sleep health advocates from around the world will join together to raise awareness of sleep health in their local communities, clinics, and countries.

The two-week exhibition programme includes a public talk by Dr De Cristofaro, taking place on Thursday 14 March, from 6-7pm, entitled Are We in a Sleep Crisis? An Exploration of Contemporary Culture.

In this talk she will explore the selection of sleep books she has curated for the exhibition, considering what literature, and culture more broadly, tell us about our relationship with sleep and the world we inhabit.

As she explains: “While sleep science is divided on whether we are currently experiencing a sleep crisis or not, contemporary literature is full of bad sleepers. During this talk I will be exploring how sleep is portrayed through literature and how we can use this to understand our own experiences of sleep.”

Register for the free talk here.

A creative workshop entitled Oneiric Journey to the Nearby Cosmos will also be held by the exhibition’s curator, artist Chiara Dellerba, on March 23 from 10am to 12pm.

The workshop will explore how our bodies and minds react to sounds, with those attending able to experiment with creative writing techniques and mark-making to develop visual responses to meditative soundscapes.

Register for the free workshop here.

The Reimagining Sleep Exhibition takes place from Thursday 14 to Thursday 28 March at Newcastle City Library, Level 2. It is part of the Understanding and Reimagining Sleep and Its Disorders project led by Dr Diletta De Cristofaro of Northumbria University. 

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