Daily Life Ltd and Bobby Baker LETTING IN THE LIGHT
New exhibition brings light to Stratford in the darkest months and
challenges the way we think about mental health
Letting in the Light is a vibrant new art exhibition set to illuminate the streets of Stratford, East London from Monday 25 January to Wednesday 23 March 2016. A series of large light boxes, featuring images of paintings, drawings, digital and mixed media work by artists including Bobby Baker, Dolly Sen, Jan Arden, Phil Baird and George Harding, will be situated on The Grove, opposite Stratford Library E15 1EL. Appropriately enough the show opens with a ‘Private View’ on 25 January (5pm – 7pm, speeches at 6.30pm) – known as ‘Blue Monday’, allegedly the most depressing day of the year!
Produced by Bobby Baker’s pioneering Stratford-based arts and mental health organisation Daily Life Ltd, the exhibition will showcase extraordinary work made by artists with personal experience of mental health issues. At a time when there is a lot of discussion around mental health issues and art, Letting in the Light will literally lighten and illuminate the darkness that many feel throughout the year, but especially when the perceived gloom of January follows all the hype and sparkle of the holiday season. The title is a reference to Groucho Marx’ immortal line: 'Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light.’
Working in partnership with Outside In and Bethlem Gallery, Daily Life Ltd put out an open call for submissions on the theme of ‘letting in the light’ that attracted over 150 entries from around the UK. ‘The standard of the submissions was extremely high’ said Bobby, ‘several of the artists have exhibited internationally whilst some are people earlier on in their careers’. Daily Life Ltd promotes the talents and insight of artists, performers, writers and musicians with personal experience of mental health issues – online and on the ground. Artist and Artistic Director Bobby Baker says: "When I had serious mental health problems I was mostly judged and underestimated, but when people see the autobiographical drawings I made during that time it helps change the way they think about mental health. Experiencing mental distress and difficult times are part of the human condition and can form a rich basis for reflection and awareness. Artists like us, with unique experiences, can create work that enlightens and delights people.”
Thirty-five artists were selected for the light box exhibition, which will also feature three drawings by Bobby Baker including a new ‘customised’ reworking of ‘Battle Hardened’, about surviving mental illness. Work ranges across the spectrum, from abstract art to figurative painting, from detailed and complex drawings to collage. Some pieces are thoughtful and contemplative, others ironic, funny, joyful or exuberant. London-based Phil Baird, a practicing artist for over 40 years, exhibits nationally, and was the Outside In: National 2012 Award winner. Dolly Sen has used digital manipulation to transform coffee stains into stars to ‘prove everything is connected and that you can make stars out of anything’. Jan Arden creates intense and intricate drawings, drawn from his imagination, that reward sustained viewing as different elements and stories emerge from them.