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Reflections on the projects that have shaped my current research


Encounter at Wysing Arts Centre

In 2020 I was commissioned by Wysing Arts Centre to create a new work in their Test Space gallery. I made Encounter which responded to a series of small objects and ideas linked to visual perception. This was my first truly immersive installation and repurposed collaging techniques for a 3D environment. It included abstracted photographs, drawings, sculptures, video and lighting and was reminiscent of theatrical stage design. 

This work has been hugely influential on my current research and ideas. I have since considered ways of using lighting, sound design and performance. While also thinking about the sensory impact of immersive installations and how I can ensure the work is inclusive and accessible to all.

View more images of Encounter on my website here


An immersive installation with a mural, inbuilt video and sculptures and shapes that float and sit across the space.
Encounter, Naomi Harwin. 2023. Courtesy of Wilf Speller.

Re-staging the familiar at Northside House with Hospital Rooms

In 2020 I was invited by Hospital Rooms to participate in a project at Northside House, a medium secure mental health unit in Norwich. I was commissioned alongside five other artists to create a new artwork for the unit in response to conversations with the users and staff.  

Who are Hospital Rooms?

Hospital Rooms is a charity co-founded by Tim A Shaw and Niamh White. Their goal is to improve the health and wellbeing of mental health service users through art and creative activities. They co-produce the projects with artists, mental health service users and practitioners to enhance the environments of units and develop innovative solutions for specific social needs. While bringing world class art to mental health hospitals. 

Find out more about Hospital Rooms on their website here

Northside House Project

A corner view of a 4-colour mural with MDF reliefs, to the left is a tall wooden TV unit and on the right a blue armchair
Re-staging the Familiar, Naomi Harwin. 2023. Image courtesy of Hospital Rooms

When starting this project, I was interested in investigating how design choices and the features of a space influence the atmosphere and emotions associated with it.  After visiting Northside House, I focused on the time spent in rooms and corridors and how they were moved through. I chose to work with a small, enclosed space. Here I could make subtle changes to its physical structure. On my site visit I led a sculpture workshop with service users and staff. We made small 3D environments out of colorful card, using different folding and construction techniques. This allowed us to talk about their favourite spaces and how they influenced their creations. We also experimented with lighting and casting shadows through their sculpture, generating new shapes and perspectives.



The dynamic and energetic quality of the service users’ creations were incorporated into my artwork design. I used the shapes and drawings of the paper sculptures to create wooden reliefs and a wrap-around mural. The installation covers the walls and ceiling of the quiet TV room. It aims to encourage curiosity through the playful shapes and composition while promoting a peaceful atmosphere with its grounding colours.

How does this influence my current thinking?

In recent years, I have been creating immersive works that rely heavily on visual perception. This can be seen in both Encounter and Re-staging the familiar. Although successful, I have come to realise I would like to generate a space for the full sensory experience. I am now looking to develop more ambitious artworks that involve physical and digital interactive elements. For example, moveable sculptural structures and responsive lighting and sound design. To accomplish this, I plan to train, upskill, and collaborate with others. My ultimate goal is to create work that can exist in various formats, environments, and scales, including public art and small interventions. Making Your Art Accessible training programme has supported that development and is triggering new questions and developments.

List of inspirations - recent reading

How to Land: Finding Ground in an Unstable World by Ann Cooper Albright.

Ann Cooper Albright highlights the significance of embodiment as a coping mechanism in our modern world, which is often disorienting. By drawing a connection between somatics and politics, Albright suggests that placing emphasis on gravity as both a metaphorical sensibility and physical experience can facilitate the transformation of personal disorientation into a chance to contemplate the interdependent relationship between individual resilience and communal responsibility

Beyond Scenography by Rachel Hann

Beyond Scenography is a book that explores the distinction between scenography and scenographics in contemporary theatre-making. The book argues that there is no theatre practice without scenography and proposes a renewed theory of scenographic practice for theatrical designers. The book covers various topics, including installation art, gardening, marketing, and placemaking.

The Senses: Design Beyond Vision by Ellen Lupton and Andrea Lipps

Accompanying a major exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, The Senses delves into the impact of space, materials, sound and light on the human mind and body. Featuring the works of renowned designers such as Petra Blaisse, Bruce Mau, and Malin+Goetz, the book showcases the ways in which multisensory design can enhance the human experience and provide solutions to problems, including those faced by individuals with sensory disabilities

Naomi Harwin

Working predominately in sculpture and installation, Naomi Harwin’s work centres around sensory experience and perceptual encounters. Most recently she has been exploring how bodily perception can cultivate resilience in the face of disorientation. With societal and environmental uncertainty, feelings of instability can arise and we seek out connection. Harwin explores how we connect with; our bodies, each other and our environment through the senses available to us. Creating interactive and mixed media artworks that reference sensory and inclusive design, contact improvisation, architectural scenography and play, she aims to create moments of connectivity and shared experience. Naomi Harwin graduated from Norwich University of the Arts in 2014 and more recently participated in East Bristol Contemporary’s Night School VII in 2021. She was a Studio Artist at Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridge from 2015 to 2021 and is now a Studio Member at Paradise Works in Manchester. Previous commissions, exhibitions and features include: Hospital Rooms at Northside House, Norwich (2021), Encounter, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge (2020), To be an object is to possess a boundary, 1961 Projects, In Personam, Singapore (2019), Like-minded, Minimal Zine issue 01 (2019), Non-working hours, 1961 Projects , Singapore(2018), We:You,Me, Firstsite, Colchester (2017), AD HOC + TRADE Swap Editions, Art Licks, SET and Castor Projects, London (2017), in between things, Nunns Yard, Norwich (2016) and ‘O’, Airspace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent (2015).