Following an open call-out on the theme around the kitchen table, we are pleased to present an exhibition by gallery artists as well as patients and staff from the Bethlem Royal Hospital.
We use tables’ everyday, they provide us with a grounding for all manner of tasks and activities; they support us and give our lives structure. Tables provide us with a meeting point to connect, share and debate. They act as social hubs where we like to congregate in solidarity and stop for a moment in the day. Tables are also sites for battle, where tensions rise and fall and where relationships begin and end.
The starting point for this exhibition grew out of a series of visits to hospital wards and from conversations with staff and patients. The kitchen table became visible as a common thread, a shared space for meeting, talking, doing and exploring together.
The kitchen is the heart of the home, the engine room and so it is the kitchen table specifically that provides us with an informal multifunctional space where all manner of activities take place. It’s a place for meaningful conversations over a cup of tea. It’s a temporary studio or workshop born out of necessity. It’s a welcoming surface to dump all the things we pick up each day, ready to one day be sorted through, organised and stored away; a platform for making sense of the world. In this respect, we can think of the Bethlem Gallery as one of many ‘kitchen tables’ within the hospital that offer it’s community a space to be, think, share, sort and do.
For this exhibition, the kitchen table is explored in a number of ways and as interpreted by contributors from the open call in the form of painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, poetry and writing.
In the centre of the gallery, sits a long table from the Bethlem Wood Library, made for the exhibition from Oak sourced in the hospital grounds, a tree whose ecosystem supports 350 forms of life. This table will be a meeting place and space to be activated over the course of the exhibition with workshops, discussions, lunches and things to do, collectively or alone.