AboutMidday -1.30pm - a talk by Sarah Chaney, acclaimed academic, exploring some of the connections between art, psychiatry and modernism, focusing on the Bethlem collections and archive.
Since at least the 19th century, mental health service users have been creating art in psychiatric settings. Many of their paintings, sculptures and drawings are kept in outsider art and hospital collections around the world. But why were these items created and kept? Focusing on the Bethlem Royal Hospital (the original “Bedlam”) art collections and archive, explore art by David Beales, Gwyneth Rowlands and more.
Artist Liz Atkin will produce real time work, her compulsive charcoal drawings, on one of Coventry’s bus routes, as a response to the journey.
Psyche on the Skin: Art and History
Sarah Chaney and Liz Atkin will challenge our perceptions about compulsion. Artist Liz Atkin will perform ‘Pouring Mountains’ a large scale, painting installation.
Self-harm is often thought to be a modern epidemic, associated with social changes, mass media and the internet and the challenges of adolescence. But what can we learn from the history of a phenomenon that was first categorised over 150 years ago? And how can art and literature inform our understanding of mental health and illness and support us through it? Join historian and self-harm survivor Sarah Chaney and visual artist and Compulsive Skin Picking advocate Liz Atkin for an evening of performance and discussion exploring the multiple meanings of self-injury, and the differences between self-harm and compulsive skin-picking.
Liz Atkin is an internationally acclaimed visual artist and advocate based in London. Compulsive Skin Picking dominated her life for more than 20 years, but art has become her greatest tool for recovery. Liz reimagines the body-focused repetitive behaviour of skin picking into photographic artworks, charcoal drawings and performances. Her work has been exhibited in the UK, Australia, Singapore, USA and Japan. She has given public talks for TEDx, Wellcome Collection, Southbank Centre, and at a range of UK and international conferences and health events. She has featured on BBC Breakfast, BBC Woman's Hour, BBC World Service and BBC Radio London, Aljazeera TV, the INewspaper, Huffington Post, and BBC Arabic.
Sarah Chaney is a Research Associate at UCL Health Humanities Centre, and Research Project Manager at Queen Mary Centre for the History of Emotions, University of London. Her book ‘Psyche on the skin. A history of Self –harm’ takes the reader from the Victorian era to modern Britain and challenges the idea that self-harm is a phenomenon that can be attributed to ‘how we live now’.
“I am 59 years old. I have been painting and drawing since I was a child. When I was 21 I was admitted to Farnborough Psychiatric Unit and was in and out of different hospitals for nearly 20 years, until I was discharged into the community from Stone House Hospital as part of the ‘Care in the Community’ programme in the early 1990’s. I have been able to paint events from the hospital and from the supported houses and the community that has been my home since I left hospital.
I decided to confront the issue of prejudice against the mentally ill by using informative illustration and captions to raise awareness of the problems confronting the mentally ill in the community.”
Previously unseen Gwyneth Rowlands flints will be shown as part of Scratch the Surface – DIALOGUE mental health arts festival 2017. They form part of the Adamson Collection Trust, a collection of art objects created by people compelled to live for decades in the UK mental hospital, Netherne, who practised in Edward Adamson's resident art studios.
“Gwyneth Rowlands was admitted to Netherne Hospital– a long-stay mental hospital in Surrey, near London –in around 1946, and left when the British asylums were
closed in the mid-1980s. Netherne, like most London asylums, was just outside the city, surrounded by the farm fields from which she gathered her flints. Rowlands initially
had a folk art style, meticulously copying images of butterflies in books onto pebbles she collected from the seaside during hospital outings. In a rare intervention, the artist Edward Adamson, with whom she worked, suggested she might think of doing something else.
From that point on, she painted her beautiful worlds on flint. This transformation was an epiphany. She would go on to create all her objects in Edward Adamson’s
studio at Netherne, with her painting materials supplied by him.” (Private Intentions:
The story behind the Adamson Collection by David O’Flynn