PROJECT LAUNCH: Phil Lavery – Time is Muscle

© Phil Lavery

Shutter Hub member Phil Lavery‘s exhibition Exploring the Liminal is showing at the Patriothall Gallery in Edinburgh from 8th to 23rd September 2018.

As part of the exhibition, Phil is showing work from his series In The Broken Places, images he has created in response to a heart attack he had in 2016. This experience has inspired him to launch a new project, called Time is Muscle, an art/health project to help promote awareness of heart attack symptoms, and through awareness, improve outcomes. 

We felt the project was important, and needed to be shared, so here’s Phil, explaining the project in his own words…


© Phil Lavery


I am a fine art photographer and a heart attack survivor and Time Is Muscle is an art/health project that I’m doing with the Digital Learning Foundation educational charity and is being supported by the Society of Scottish Artists, Visual Arts Scotland and Shutter Hub, along with Glasgow Science Centre and the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, to help promote awareness of heart attack symptoms and through awareness, improve outcomes. 

“ Each month in Scotland, heart attacks are responsible for 560 deaths and 2,100 hospital admissions.” BHF Statistics Feb 2018

You are probably aware, that there are areas of Scotland, where the premature death rates from Heart Disease are almost double the national average. What isn’t so well known, is that many people, particularly women, don’t recognise the symptoms of a heart attack and even those that do, many will still delay getting help. What they don’t realise, is that with each minute they wait, the likelihood of irreversible damage to their heart muscle is increased. Cardiologists refer to this as Time Is Muscle. The sooner you get treatment, the less heart muscle is damaged and the better your outcome!

“Are you sure you would recognise the symptoms of a heart attack? What if there was no arm pain and it just felt similar to indigestion, or a bad jaw pain,  would you still know? How long would you put off calling for help?”

My heart attack was the classic, pain across the chest, pain down the arm and then feeling sick, and yet I still waited almost 20 minutes before getting help. I was lucky. However, while recovering in hospital I spoke to others that weren’t so lucky. Where my heart attack was a scream, theirs was a whimper. And that is worse.  Because they waited, thinking it would go away. They waited not just minutes, but hours, and in one case days. It was while listening to a consultant explain to a fellow patient, that because of his long delay in getting treatment, the damage to his heart muscle was not going to get any better, that I decided I needed to do something. But what?

My In The Broken Places photographic series is a personal response to my heart attack, but even if it is widely exhibited in art galleries, that in itself is unlikely to make the difference I feel is required.

No, a much larger, more collaborative, public participation project that can achieve lots of publicity, can travel to a wide range of venues across Scotland and can act as a focus for community outreach by artists, clinicians and rehab groups, providing workshops, talks and opportunities to share knowledge and personal experiences through art making and participation in major art competitions organised and run with the help of each of the arts organisations involved, that is what is required… but to achieve this, I need your help.

The Digital Learning Foundation will shortly be making an application for funding to Creative Scotland, but to give us the best chance possible of being successful, we need to find over £25,000 from other sources of funding and in-kind donations and your support could make all the difference. We would like to try and raise £1,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to show that we also have public support for the project, so please give what you can, even £1, as numbers of donations is just as important as amount raised.

Thank you!

Please share on social media using #TimeIsMuscle and #HeartAware and help us exceed our goal!

You can also help if you are:

  • An artist, medical researcher, heart attack survivor, health professional or educator and would like be involved in a collaboration to create new art, or in speaking at events, or in providing heart themed art workshops for all ages, or volunteering in so many ways…
  • A Scottish gallery, science, medical, retail or community space that can offer a space for the exhibition, talks, workshops and other activities…
  • An organisation, or know an organisation, that might consider sponsoring or providing an in-kind donation to this project…

– please contact as soon as possible.

We will be making use of the many resources provided by the British Heart Foundation and using their various channels to reach as many people as possible. In return, we will be doing everything we can to support them, so please do consider making a donation to them also.


© Phil Lavery


To support Time is Muscle, you can donate to the crowdfunder, here.


Current exhibition:

Exploring the Liminal – a solo exhibition by Phil Lavery

Patriothall Gallery
1 Patriothall
Off Hamilton Place
Edinburgh EH3 5AY

Exhibition runs from 8th to 23rd September.  Open 12pm – 5pm daily, closed Mondays and Tuesdays.