Phoenix Art Space
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Sunday, October 22, 2023
10-14 Waterloo Place, Brighton BN2 9N
South East England
Phoenix art space

Sense of Symptoms is the latest exhibition at Phoenix Arts Space by award-winning artist Mellissa Monsoon, exploring the impact and experience of tinnitus as an invisible symptom that affects millions of people in the UK.


Mellissa Monsoon is an internationally recognised bio-artist whose work brings the invisible world of microbes to life. Her visual realisations of the impact of invisible bacteria upon our lives have been featured on television and in galleries across the UK and internationally. Premiering on screen in 2017 with a commission from the BBC, Monsoon’s large-scale microbial sculptures have been featured in the BBC Four documentary film Michael Mosley Versus the Superbugs. Her groundbreaking visualisation of the invisible bacteria that live on our skin, ‘Microbial Me’, is on permanent display at the Eden Project in Cornwall.


Mellissa’s grant-awarded approaches to the universal experience of microbes have been supported by Arts Council England and have taken her to collaborative work with other artists through residencies in Canada, USA and most recently Portugal, where Mellissa explored the boundary between art and science with Cultivamos Cultura. Her programme of public engagement talks with schools, galleries, community and chronic condition support groups has been wide-ranging and seeks to broaden the public understanding of experiences that affect millions of people every year.


Expanding Mellissa’s previous work on the impact of the invisible, Sense of Symptoms is a new interactive installation which provides visitors with a journey through invisible symptoms. As visitors proceed through the journey of Sense of Symptoms they will gain an understanding of pulsatile tinnitus by experiencing the sounds that are part of the daily lives of 1 in 10 people. Approximately 7 million people in the UK live with some form of tinnitus; it is estimated that this number will rise to c.8 million over the next decade. Examples of the artworks on display include electronic art, casts of the artists body, 3D printed models, printmaking and illustration.


The exhibit has been in collaboration with people who experience Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH), a build-up of pressure around the brain causing a variety of symptoms, like pulsatile tinnitus and many other symptoms, Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension appears invisible to the onlooker but can have a marked impact on those who live with it. Inspired by her recent work with the charity IIH UK, Mellissa says:


“Invisible health conditions impact millions in our society and considerably affect people in their daily lives; the fact that they are invisible means that they need to be all the more broadly discussed in public. My work explores these experiences from an aesthetic perspective, using a broad variety of lenses to visualise and realise experience as fully as possible: cyanotype prints, lino prints, ceramics, sculpture, and electronic art”.

Sense of Symptoms runs from Wednesday, 18 October until Sunday, 22 October (inclusive). It is open daily from 11am to 5pm, there will be a quiet hour every day at 4 pm for those who prefer to view without noise in the Project Space at Phoenix Arts Space in central Brighton. On Friday 20th October at 5 pm there will be an exhibition tour, and private view from 6 – 8 pm both are bookable at :