Category Archives: Mental Health

Bethlem Gallery presents: Cohedia by Xavier White

Bethlem Gallery is proud to present our first solo exhibition in our widely acclaimed new home recently opened in February 2015 and shared with the Bethlem Museum of the Mind.

Join Artist Xavier White to explore “an outsider’s artistic wanderings on the journey to the mind-expanding cityscape of Cohedia… Cohedia is a mind map, a jewel of an idea, polished with time and thought… Take a mental stroll in its streets buildings and vistas to appreciate the full ambience of the settlement… Thought and effort are put into making an atmosphere that is coherent and conducive to the development of the human spirit, enabling the brain connections that bring about cognition. Wish you were here Xx”

What is Cohedia? A shape, a colour, a solution, an answer?
Where is Cohedia?

The cityscape created by Xavier is a speculative environment simultaneously asking the viewer to imagine what kind of world we would create if we were given a blank canvas, and at the same time shedding light on the physical, cultural, and social structures that exist within our communities that shape our understanding of ourselves and others.

Depicted by a large painting at the heart of the exhibition at the Bethlem Gallery. The imagined landscape encompasses buildings, communities and social structures, explained in the film the artist made in 2006 ‘Fables Exhibition’ – an exhibition for the people – it represents life’s toil and the passage of time while we struggle… The Head Expansion.

School, where children’s progress is supported and their minds are expanded by the stimulation of others to develop into independent learners, and Escar abodes, housing the people of Cohedia, these structures are based on the idea of a snail shell, as the family grows so does the shell.

The exhibition also encompasses an intricate array of maquettes of the buildings made in glass, clay and metal. His artistic practice involves upcycling materials, working with found and scavenged objects “creating new aesthetics with Duchampian gusto”– says Xavier.

At the age of 18 Xavier suffered a near fatal head injury whilst cycling home through Peckham, South London. After a ten day coma at Kings College Hospital, he had to re-learn all his life skills at Maudsley Hospital’s Neurological Unit.

“My work is conceptually robust and perceptually intriguing, while at the same time carrying intensely personal, yet, resonantly universal human experience.” – Xavier White.

The creation of utopias can be seen as a form of human resilience in an imperfect world; a way of rationalizing the place we find ourselves in, imagining brighter futures, and giving the creator a sense of agency. Art history tells us this is a universal habit across cultures and centuries, perhaps, within the context of recovery, this creative comforting force becomes even more pertinent.

“White is a thinker, who has researched deeply into the fields of neurology, neural architecture, learning styles and brain function. And yet, since his accident, after which he had to learn, from scratch, how to even put one foot in front of the other, he unsurprisingly struggles with formal education.”– Writer and Art Critic Anna McNay

Exhibition continues: 16 April – 15 May
Opening times: Wed – Friday, 10am – 5pm
Gallery and museum open the first and last Saturdays of the month 10am – 5pm

Address: The Bethlem Gallery, Bethlem Royal Hospital Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3BX
Travel: Nearest British Rail: Eden Park / East Croydon
Contact: Beth Elliott, Gallery Director, 020 3228 4101
Email: thebethlemgallery@gmail.com
Website: http://www.bethlemgallery.com

To find out more about Xavier White’s work, please visit: xavierwhite.weebly.com

Excitement building…Spaghetti & The Yeti Workshop – 15/05/15!

Dear MS friends, we are extremely excited to report our findings from our recent visit to Free Space Gallery at the Kentish Town Health Centre.

As you know, our next workshop – a very special one, led by poet and comedian, John Hegley, in support of the Mental Health Foundation during Mental Health Awareness Week – will be held at KTHC, in partnership with Free Space Gallery, and what an event it’s going to be!

I finally met the very lovely Mel, who runs the FSG project. I was shown around KTHC, a vibrant, community space incorporating bright and sunny workshop spaces, a creative outdoor space full of the fruits of creative endeavour (including a mini White Cube gallery – more info to follow in another post!), a well laid out, extensive exhibition space, and all the mod cons you could need to host a workshop, plus refreshments, and – get this – a mini inside/outside shindig after the workshop on the 15th!

The ‘Well-Beeing’ garden and creative outdoor space

Before I go on, let me remind you that although tickets are £10 (plus £0.90 booking fee) each, we do have an allocation of free tickets for mental health service users. So get in touch by emailing mentalspaghetti@gmail.com if you’d like to snap up a free ticket before we run out!

Currently exhibiting at Kentish Town Health Centre is Bernard McGuigan, a sculptor and printmaker, described as “outstanding” by art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon. Bernard’s show will be on during the workshop so everyone is invited to go up to the gallery spaces and view the work. Also on display is a photography exhibition, as well as other art works dotted around the site, made by clients of KTHC, and a particularly exquisite tapestry featuring local scenes of old Kentish Town.

Bernard McGuigan’s work on display at Free Space Gallery

Regarding the little shindig after the workshop, we hope to have some stalls with local art for sale, as well as wine and snacks, and possibly some food stalls. There will be music – perhaps even some live music – so do expect jollity.

That’s all for now, folks, and I hope to see you all at our workshop and shindig!

The Daily Life Ltd needs YOU!

Our friends and comrades in art and mental health, The Daily Life Ltd, led by Bobby Baker (not a man), have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for 3 new animations starring Dr Bobby, Roxy and Rudi. Together they will spread the word about their fantastic arts & mental health programme.

Can you help? Here follows a short broadcast from Dr Bobby…

And now some more information from the Daily Life Ltd. team…
Hello! Team Daily Life Ltd here – thanks for stopping by. We’re an arts organisation based in Stratford, East London. Our Artistic Director, Bobby Baker, is well known as an artist and as an ‘expert by experience’ of the mental health system. Our whole mission is to create powerful art that changes the way people think about mental health. We want as many people as possible to see surprising and beautiful work by artists with personal experience of mental health issues – and we need your help.

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About this project: who we are and what we do…


The Roxy and Rudi Roadshow Local Wellbeing Research Unit, Shuffle Festival (2013) Photograph: Hydar Dewachi

Having produced Bobby’s art for years, we are now beginning to present work by many more artists who have lived experience of mental distress. This year we’ve raised money to tour exciting work by a group of talented poets, performers, artists and musicians in East London.

Here are some of our amazing lineup:


Selina Thompson, Chewing the Fat (2014)


Laura Jane Dean, This Room (2015)


Simon Raven, Cool Party (2014)

We’ll also be presenting work by artists from the wonderful Outside In at Pallant House Gallery and Bethlem Gallery:

Bethlem Gallery website. Screenshot: February 2015


Outside In National, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (2012) Photograph: Jason Hedges

We’re touring to East London venues like the pioneering Bromley By Bow Centre, Kingsley Hall, Shuffle Festival, and Queen Mary University, London.
Plus we’re planning another stunning Lightbox installation this autumn, building on the success of exhibition in Dalston last year – but this time in Newham.


The Expert View, Lightbox installation, Dalston Square (2014) Photograph: Andrew Whittuck

What we want to do now – with your help
The art is all sorted, as you can see, but now we need to make sure people know about it – locally and online. We’re a minuscule company, so we’re asking for your support to pay for our creative collaborators (Kate Bland, Cast Iron Radio, Pete Baynton, Radish Pictures, Bobby Baker aka ‘Dr Bobby,’) to help develop three more ‘Promo Cartoons.’

Thanks to Pete, Kate and the rest of our collaborators working with Bobby, our tiny, terrific and talented Roxy and Rudi Marketing Team have already been on the road on their mission to SAVE HUMANITY! Check them out on YouTube. As well as promoting new work, the cartoons are also a way of recording our activities and sharing them with people far beyond our East London stomping ground – Roxy, Rudi and Dr Bobby are a multitasking team!

A bit of background information

For those of you who don’t know us yet, and why we have such a passion for the arts and mental health, here’s a word from our Artistic Director Bobby Baker, aka ‘Dr Bobby:’


Bobby Baker, How to Shop (1993) Photograph: Andrew Whittuck

“Hello! I’m an artist and the Artistic Director of Daily Life Ltd. We’re a small Arts Council funded arts organisation based in East London.

I’ve been an artist for 40 years or so, making lots of work about daily life, being a woman, bringing up children, power, that sort of thing …How to change the world, basically.
Between 1997-2008 I had a period of serious mental ill health. I made lots of work about this experience. I had all sorts of treatment – some of it good – and in the end I got better. I’m now proud to describe myself as an expert by experience of the mental health system, and I’ve been Tip Top up Top for a decade or more. But there’s a lot of ignorance, fear and prejudice about mental health out there. This affected me very badly and still does, as it does others. Mental health is a subject that provokes strong feelings – people can get shouty, or boring, or bored or even more confused.

So that’s where the art comes in!

We know that powerful art changes lives and transforms thinking. We want more people to see great work by many people – many more voices, many experiences. We’d love your support to make the The Roxy and Rudi Roadshow Cartoons, so we can promote our fantastic 2015 programme to a wider audience.”

-Thanks, Bobby!


Bobby Baker, Pull Yourself Together, Trafalgar Square, London (2000) Photograph: Hugo Glendinning

Okay, folks, final word from team Mental Spaghetti – go help our buddies Bobby Baker and The Daily Life Ltd. raise what they need to animate their adventures! Thank you!

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Update from Bethlem Gallery

On the 19th of February, The Bethlem Gallery and Museum will open the doors to a new, state of the art building which will be home to the Bethlem Gallery, Bethlem Museum of the Mind and Bethlem archives.

Below is a summary of the first three exhibitions taking place in the building.

Bethlem Museum of the Mind’s Permanent Collection.

A selection of around 1,000 art works including works by former Bethlem patients such as Jonathan Martin, Richard Dadd and Louis Wain

Bryan Charnley: The Art of Schizophrenia

Bringing together works from the Bethlem collection and many rarely seen works from the Estate of Bryan Charnley, this exhibition looks back at Charnley’s life and work.

Where is the Work in a Work of Art?

What kind of work goes into making a work of art? This exhibition will reveal the processes, structures and systems behind the art of a diverse group of artists who are connected to the Bethlem Gallery. We’ll be asking how does identity play a role in the making and reception of an artwork and how are artists enabled to do what they do?

About Bethlem

Bethlem Royal Hospital was founded in 1247 and was the first institution in the UK to specialise in the care of the mentally ill. The hospital continues to provide in-patient care as part of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and is a provider of mental health and substance misuse services for people locally and specialist services for people from across the U.K. For more information on our services please visit: www.slam.nhs.uk

1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year. This is the most commonly quoted statistic, and the one which has the most research evidence to support it – www.mind.org.uk

Around 300 people out of 1,000 will experience mental health problems every year in Britain 230 of these will visit a GP 102 of these will be diagnosed as having a mental health problem 24 of these will be referred to a specialist psychiatric service

6 will become inpatients in psychiatric hospitals.

For more information visit: bethlemgallery.com | bethlemmuseumofthemind.org.uk

The Craftimation Factory – Interactive Exhibition

Interactive Exhibition With Focus On Mental Health – By Hastings Based Artists

Frames Of Mind is an exhibition that is the culmination of a year-long project during which adults with lived experience of mental health and wellbeing issues made puppets, stop motion animation and an installation with the purpose of creating dialogue around mental health. The project was led by Hastings based charity The Craftimation Factory and features work by many local artists as well as work from those living in other parts of East Sussex.

The exhibition combines interactive elements including exploring the installation with a UV torch to find hidden messages and playing cassette tapes on a retro tape player, as well a life sized knitted puppet and photos from the former psychiatric hospital in Hellingly.

The exhibition launches at 12 noon 2nd December at Towner Gallery, Eastbourne where it will run for two weeks

After the launch there is a programme of activities including free workshops and a ‘Living Exhibit’ which will invite members of the public to listen to conversations and ask questions of people with lived experience of mental health issues.

www.thecraftimationfactory.org www.facebook.com/knittedanimationworkshops

“All Divided Selves” – Luke Fowler’s film about RD Laing


Art of Psychiatry event: film screening of “All Divided Selves” followed by Q&A with director Luke Fowler, Prof Antony David and Dr Vaughan Bell
Date: Thursday 16 October
Time: 6-8:15pm (screening approx 6-7.30pm)
Venue: Wolfson lecture theatre Institute of Psychiatry

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Luke Fowler, in discussion with Professor Tony David and Dr Vaughan Bell from the Institute of Psychiatry.

All Divided Selves explores the life and legacy of the controversial Scottish psychiatrist, R D Laing (1927-1989). Laing famously argued that normality entailed adjusting to an alienating and depersonalizing world. Thus, those society labels as ‘mentally ill’ are in fact ‘hyper-sane’ travellers. The film concentrates on Laing and his colleagues as they tried to acknowledge the importance of social environment and disturbed interactions within institutions in the aetiology of human distress and suffering. Using a collage of archival material the film portrays the vacillating responses to Laing’s radical views and the less forgiving responses to his latter career shift; from eminent psychiatrist to enterprising celebrity.

This is an open meeting – all are welcome (including psychiatry trainees, service users, IoP staff, and members of public).
Wine and snacks provided. Look forward to seeing you there!
About Luke Fowler and RD Laing:
Luke Fowler: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luke_Fowler
RD Laing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._D._Laing
All Divided Selves: http://www.lux.org.uk/whats-on/events/all-divided-selves-luke-fowler

Further information:
http://www.artofpsychiatry.co.uk
@artofpsychiatry