What’s real is home exhibition

Alban_Low_art_mental_health

Role-players take in the exhibition photo by Bill Mudge

Earlier this month I exhibited my most recent artwork from my time on the simulated mental health ward at Kingston University and St George’s, University of London.  ‘What’s real is home’ included over 30 sketches at the Scene Of Crime House, Kingston University. It is a body of artistic work that has enabled me to delve even deeper into the mental health labyrinth. It has also increased my appreciation of the people who help guide us through it’s twists and turns.

This time last year I took my first tentative steps into the simulated mental health ward at Kingston University and St George’s, University London. I was unprepared for the process and theatre that awaited me. Since then my artistic life has dovetailed with the course, actors and staff. The sketches from last year formed a successful exhibition, a film which was screened at the BFI London, a loan of work to the Recovery exhibition at the Institute of Mental Health (Nottingham) and a series of articles online and in print.

Putting up the show

Putting up the show. Photo by Bill Mudge

I returned to the ward in 2014 alongside psychotherapist and tutor Harvey Wells. In addition to sketching, we also recorded the dialogue between patients and nurses on the simulated ward. These sound recordings inspired two short films that have been embraced by the international film circuit.

‘Ping Pong Paranoia’ was screened at the MORPHOS Immersive Video Dome Art festival in Los Angeles, USA.

‘What’s Real Is Home’ features the poetry of Robin Vaughan-Williams and premiered at the Filmpoem Festival (2014) in Antwerp, Belgium.

This year we recorded the voices of the ‘patients’ on the ward. We used these monologues as a creative springboard to explore a whole range of mental health themes. One of the most powerful sound recordings was from ‘Sandra’ who is played by actor Lindsay Shepherd. We were honoured that Lindsay attended the opening of the exhibition with some of the fellow role-players. It is her voice that appears alongside experimental jazz trio Toy Rokit on the film ‘Ping Pong Paranoia’. The film explores the ever increasing anxiety and claustrophobia felt by the paranoid patient ‘Sandra’ as she voices her concerns about being stuck on the ward.

Kevin_Acott_mental_health

Sketch of Kevin Acott. Photo by Bill Mudge

The story isn’t over for ‘Ping Pong Paranoia’ either, just last night I attended another screening of the film at the Greenhorn Film Festival’s Animation Freakatorium in Crouch End. Amongst a high quality programme of short films, our modest film held its own despite its small budget. The full programme can be found at http://www.greenhornfestival.com/programme-2014/film-programme

It was both unnerving and exciting to be able to hang the exhibition at the Scene of Crime House at Kingston University. It was one of those nights that seemed very dark indeed. Luckily we had the services of photographer Bill Mudge, who captured some evocative images on his camera. See his full portfolio from the night here – http://mudgephoto.wordpress.com/portfolio/whats-real-is-home/

One part of the exhibition that brought a smile to everyone’s lips was the Train or Ward installation. This was comprised of 48 vignettes that documented one-sided conversations heard on trains from around the UK and within the Simulated Mental Health ward. Visitors to the exhibition were asked to guess where each conversation originated from. Was it Train or Ward?

courtesy of Bill Mudge

Outside the Scene of Crime House. Photo by Bill Mudge

These vignettes were first exhibited at the NOSE Festival in Exeter on the 29th March 2014 as a set of magnetic artworks each measuring 5 x 7cm. They were placed on lampposts and railings throughout the city. The public were invited to pick them up and collect or to leave for people to discover throughout the festival. Harvey Wells joined me both in installing the magnets and in the simulated ward where we instigated the project.

The ‘Train or Ward’ instillation aims to break down the boundaries by taking Art out of the gallery and into public spaces but also by challenging attitudes towards Mental Health in the community. The ‘normal’ lines are blurred, it is impossible to detect whether a conversation has originated from the mental health ward or the local train. It is clear though that there is humour and pathos in abundance in both these environments.

AL.

Advertisements

Spring News

Jawspring Poster

Jawspring Poster

Jawspring Exhibition

It has been a very busy start to 2014 and at times it has been hard to keep up. My main focus has been the imminent Jawspring exhibition at the Village Hall Gallery, Wimbledon on the 21st March. The exhibition combines the work of 17 Merton Poets and 26 artists who have been inspired by their poems. We’ll be celebrating World Poetry Day on the 21st, with a party at 6-8pm with wine and a poetry performance from 7pm onwards.

The next few weeks will be concerned with framing and printing before the big night itself. All the details are on the Jawspring website – http://www.jawspring.blogspot.co.uk
The exhibition runs from the 19th-23rd March and all the opening times are on the website.
There are activities for children as well as budding adult poets too, so please come along.

Simulations

In January I stepped once again into the Simulated Mental Health ward at Kingston University and St George’s University London. I have written up the experience here, along with a range of sketches – Day One / Day Two. I worked closely with psychotherapist Harvey Wells on the project last year and this time around was no different. Branching out from last year’s successful exhibition was our desire and we’ve already scored a hit. We recorded the voices from the ‘patients’ and start to work with them as a resource for creative expression.

Train or Ward Poster Publication

Train or Ward Poster Publication

Art or Train? NOSE
We have taken some of the one-sided conversations from the simulated mental health ward and combined them with monologues heard on public transport to produce this innovative public art installation. We were lucky enough to be selected for the NOSE Festival in Exeter on the 29th March 2014, where we will be placing 48 magnetic vignettes on the city streets. As part of this we are publishing a 5 pages pamphlet with A3 fold out poster to celebrate the exhibition.
It is available on Amazon for £3 and from publishers Sampson Low Ltd. ISBN  978-0-9534712-6-3

Film – Poetry – Music – Toy Rokit
The simulations is proving a hotbed of inspiration and we have received our first poems inspired by monologues we recorded in the mental health ward. I’m busy transforming Robin Vaughan-Williams work into a poetry-film and awaiting Kevin Acott’s first contributions to the project.
Our first film has been completed with a soundtrack from fearless improvisation trio Toy Rokit. They recorded it live at Survival Studios in Acton whilst the film was projected on a screen in front of them.
http://youtu.be/DpwYMNhGL3U

Opportunity FAB Fridge

If you would like to join me exhibiting on the streets of Bath this spring then I’m organising the FAB Fridge exhibition.
Open to all, just get involved at http://fabfridge.blogspot.co.uk/

Album Art

I’m currently working on Leo Appleyard’s debut album ‘Through the Façade”.
Samuel Eagles debut ‘Next Beginning’ is at the printers and will be released on F-IRE later this year.
Max Luthert’s debut  is ready to be printed too.

The Music of the Centaur Juan Maria Solare

The Music of the Centaur
Juan Maria Solare

Books

Tom Yocum’s ‘Loba Lingala’ is being edited as we I write this and is nearly ready for my illustrations.
Teresa Hunt’s ‘The Bats’ is finished and just needs the final design work to pull it together.
Juan Maria Solare’s book “The Music of the Centaur” is ready to be released.

Jazz

I have started to venture out back onto the Jazz circuit after a quiet January. Check out recent sketches of  Partikel and Chico Chica at http://artofjazz.blogspot.co.uk/