Laughter the best medicine for Suzie

Capital-based arts-in-health charity Hearts & Minds has appointed a new artistic director.

Wednesday, 6th December 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:00 pm
Suzie Ferguson of Hearts & Minds

Suzie Ferguson is currently a senior practitioner – as well as a performer and a highly-skilled hospital clown – with the charity.

She will take over in January as Hearts & Minds enters its 21st anniversary and lead the creative and artistic development of the Clowndoctor and Elderflower programmes founded by previous artistic director Magdalena Schamberger.

Suzie said: “It is a privilege and an honour to take this role at an organisation I care so deeply about, and a team of such highly skilled and wonderful clowns. I feel so excited for the future of the organisation; it is amazing how far saying ‘yes’ and following your passion can get you.

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“From my first day at clown school in Barcelona in 2006, I knew that clowning would be my life. I immediately understood it to be a unique art form in its ability to make positive and meaningful connections with people from all walks of life.

“I didn’t dare dream that 11 years later I would be taking the artistic reigns from our founder and artistic director of nearly 21 years, Magdalena Schamberger.”

Suzie graduated from Glasgow University with a degree in Hispanic Studies in 2004 and two years later moved to Barcelona to train as a clown and spent the next two years street performing on the city’s famous Ramblas.

In 2008, she returned to Scotland and joined Modo, a theatre company specialising in large-scale community engagement projects.

She joined Hearts & Minds in 2010 and trained first as a Clowndoctor and then as Elderflower. She became a senior practitioner, and works in children’s hospitals, hospices, respite centres and dementia units across Scotland as her alter egos, Dr Maybee and Bonnie Elderflower.

Michelle Armstrong, CEO of Hearts & Minds said: “Suzie brings a great deal of passion, knowledge, commitment and experience to her new role.”

Zoe van Zwanenberg, chair of the board of trustees said: “Suzie is a truly worthy successor to Magdalena, bringing this wealth of experience to the role but, in addition, she brings her own creative talents as a multi-skilled artist and her great knowledge of the whole world of therapeutic clowning which she has been exploring through her travels and study as a Winston Churchill Fellow and her work as a senior practitioner.”

Hearts & Minds is a Scottish charity which aims to improve the experience of people in hospital and in hospice, residential and respite care by using the performing arts to encourage communication, interaction and laughter.

The Clowndoctors programme, started in 1999, and engages with children in hospital, children with complex special needs and children who have had traumatic experiences.