Being Human is an inspired artistic essay which considers the themes of humanity, individuality and the minutiae that make each and every one of us unique. It is a project that Sally Sheinman has created in conjunction with The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, and with support from The National Trust.

Sheinman’s collaborative work with the Sanger Institute resides in the artist’s desire to celebrate difference, and a wish to encourage a positive viewing of genetic variances; something so often overshadowed in science, and life, by the concerned why’s and what’s of genetic inconsistencies. The result has been a work supported by scientific research which attempts to represent and celebrate people and what makes them different; to consider and to celebrate what really makes them human.

Being Human formed part of a group show at The National Trust’s Mottisfont Abbey, Nr. Romsey in Hampshire from November 2011 to February 2012.

> 2010

LET’S CELEBRATE was a project inspired by London 2012. It toured across five National Trust properties in the East Midlands over 12 months.

Comprising over 250 exquisitely painted sculptures, this participatory artwork invited visitors to consider and record what it is that they want to celebrate, about life, people, whatever they so wish... The project captures the spirit of celebration associated with the Olympics, marrying national pride manifested by the National Trust with the anticipated national pride of London 2012.


COUNT ME comprises a large number of handcrafted colourful, miniature sculptures. Each reveals a painted abstract symbol inspired by scripts from the world’s alphabets - ancient and modern alike. (Sally calls this contrived visual language ‘Hopian symbols’). Each of these individual elements, when displayed as one becomes a part of a larger, dynamic installation which is charged with folkloric energy and tradition. It speaks to the viewer in an indecipherable and mysterious script but one whose message is unarguably a positive and enlightening one of shared experience and mutual compassion.

> 2008

> ARTDNA, like the Wishing Ceremony of 3 years earlier, was situated in a busy public space. A large green booth, ARTDNA existed as a physical space into which members of the public were encouraged to enter and interact with Sally’s work and the concept behind it. Individuals were urged to share facts and details about their family history, writing down this information on one of the surfaces made available within the booth.

Participation and interaction are central to Sally’s work and over 4,000 people interacted with ARTDNA.

Over time, individual's anecdotal offerings were developed to become part of a larger structure in which viewers could read and enjoy facts about others; Sally started the process by leaving both visual and written information about her own family, these include:

‘One of my ancestors left England for America in 1631.’
‘My sister and I look like twins. But she is older!’
‘Wish I had inherited my grandfather’s violet blue eyes.’

Through ARTDNA Sally explored both the functional and dysfunctional qualities of family life. She offered viewers the opportunity to respond to the structure in both a visual and emotional way whilst at the same time allowing each contribution to be part of a greater family tree.

> 2007

> ARTNAOS was another interactive work by Sally which toured 6 venues in the UK. The piece consisted of a brightly painted wooden cubicle; a contemplative, private space for one person to enter and to spend time alone in reflection. With space outside to write – and symbolically divest oneself of – worries, the structure was inspired by religious and psychotherapeutic practices and envisaged as a ritual chamber. The act of entering the space, and utilising it as a place from which to draw strength and courage for personal healing echoes specifically the idea of the holy shrines located within ancient Egyptian and Classical Greek temples. The exterior will display a series of worry beads and intricate hand-painted sculptures – a contemporary artistic equivalent of the objects used by various cultures to personify and ‘draw’ anxieties and worries away from the self. When ritually divested of worry, the participant is ready to enter the space, which functions in a similar way to either a Buddhist meditation chamber or a therapeutic room.

In the sometimes unsettling or stifling public spaces of a modern city or institution, ARTNAOS allows the individual to quietly re-enact performance traditions that encompass spiritual, therapeutic and intensely personal aspirations. The same ritual traditions are evoked on a more austere and monumental, collective scale by, for example, pilgrims leaving a prayer in Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall or floating a flower on the Ganges.

ARTNAOS is a colourful collaborative work which fuses the philosophical and the performative in a vibrant yet light-hearted interactive sculptural installation of hope and playful optimism.

ARTNAOS was installed in hospitals in London and Birmingham, before being exhibited at The Collection in Lincoln in November. Anyone who has spent time in a hospital will understand how valuable it can be to find a place away from the busy waiting rooms and clinical areas in which to relax and experience brief moments of peace and individual reflection.

The term ARTNAOS can be described as a personal sanctuary. ‘naos’ coming from i) the inner portion of a Greek temple, enclosed within walls and surrounded by colonnaded porticoes; ii) a wooden or stone Egyptian shrine in which the spirit of a deity was ever-present.

ARTNAOS was placed at the following locations - Birmingham Women’s Health Care NHS Trust

Northwick Park Hospital; Central Middlesex Hospital; Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; The Collection, Lincoln.

> 2006

> ANNOUNCEMENTS was a public commission for South and East Belfast healthcare Trust. The work comprised 50 individual elements each formed from a single painting and a portion of text housed within a piece of Perspex. The text was developed by the South and East Belfast Trust and relates to issues and thoughts concerning the staff and users of the facility. The separate pieces of work were positioned, often concealed throughout the building creating little unexpected pleasures to be discovered by patients and staff alike.

> 2005

> The Wishing Ceremony was completed in collaboration with the University of Hertfordshire, Leicester City Art Gallery and mac in Birmingham, and with funding from Arts Council England. The project has received wide coverage in the press, including a special Woman's Hour feature broadcast on Radio 4 on Boxing Day in 2005.

THE WISHING CEREMONY consisted of six ‘wishing booths’ each realised in a vivid, energising colour. A sign on the outside of each booth invited curious visitors to step inside these spaces and to share their hopes, wishes and dreams on paper, anonymously. Inside the booth a collection of hand-painted wishing tokens created by the artist provided inspiration from which to make a wish. As wishes were scribed participants were able to read and absorb the dreams and longings of those who had been there before – this was a place of shared desires. Such sharing of secrets can be profoundly moving and is increasingly valued as a way to appreciate our common humanity.

Over the course of the exhibition, the many wishes proffered by the public escalated, each was unfailingly recorded by the artist once the show closed and these have been preserved as an integral part of the artwork.

Hope is a key theme in all of Sally’s work, as is spirituality. In The Wishing Ceremony' you stepped into the booth for a while and left a part of yourself behind, but in making your wish, you also took away with you a little hope. You can experience the Wishing Ceremony now by visiting Sally's interactive Wishing booth online. There are now hundreds and hundreds of wishes from polite requests to uncontrolled rants, selfless hopes to selfish desires. The number of people wishing is immense, as one curator said they are ‘mad with wishing.’