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