AboutA touring photographic exhibition which intends to open new conversation and debate around mental health is exhibited at Plymouth Arts Centre (PAC) from 20 April to 16 June 2013, neatly covering Mental Health Awareness Week in mid-May.
held by Jane Fradgley is a series of thought provoking photographs, funded by Guy's and St Thomas' Charity, informed by the collection of historical restraining garments housed at the Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives &Museum, Beckenham, Kent.
With a background as a fashion designer and holding a passion for functional and tailored clothing, Fradgley was inspired to delve into the Archives after seeing Victorian portrait photographs of patients at Bethlem wearing seemingly comforting âstrong dresses'. Fradgley's interest lies in the intention behind this form of mental health care, the protection and comfort for the patient and the relative alternatives in modern treatments.
These garments, probably in use during the period 1880-1920, are surprisingly varied in design and purpose. Fradgley's images unveil the history of this largely unexplored subject and transform heavy, limp and shapeless items by sculpting the fabric as if dressing the absent wearer. She breathed life into the garments in the studio whilst aware of the essence of the people who wore them. The size of the images purposefully bears a direct relationship to the body of the viewer; compelling them to empathise with the wearers and project themselves into the garment.
The exhibition, on display alongside a new film programme with mental health themes supporting the held series, will run over Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May) - a national campaign to make people aware of the conditions and symptoms of mental health issues which affect one in four people in the UK. Supporting the campaign, Plymouth Arts Centre aims to raise awareness and through the exhibition and films, encourages people to speak more openly about mental health via the form of art and film.