7th September - 8th November
Art & Protest: What’s there to be mad about?
Bethlem Gallery
Open 10am - 5pm Wednesday - Friday. Including first and last Saturdays of the month

Bethlem Gallery is pleased to present this group exhibition of artworks and protest ephemera curated by artist and activist Dolly Sen. Dolly became involved in mental health activism after her own experience as a psychiatric patient and as a witness to other’s experience.

There are people who rise up against what has hurt them, whether it be psychiatric coercion, benefit cut deaths, austerity, or any other form of oppression. Art & Protest: What’s there to be mad about? is a celebration and acknowledgement of the role of art in political activism by those who take a stand.

Dolly says: “This exhibition will honour our right to be ourselves and to be treated with humanity and respect, and even our right to stay alive, by using art to confront, to embolden ourselves with, to stand tall, and to show others they are not alone. 

“We need to protest to reject the status we have been given. It is art to create an effect and affect; it is to change things; it is switching the power relation to make perpetrators look like twats.  

Art is our armour to go into battle with; a way to create a world where we can claim some of our soul back.”

The mental health protest movement has been around for decades, this exhibition presents and rejoices in some of the current and recent work coming out of the UK and aims to provide a platform for dialogue around art, activism and the mental health care system.

Featuring: Bobby Baker, Chas de Swiet, Colin Hambrook, Dolly Sen, Nat F (F.E.E.L. – Friends of East End Loonies), gobscure, Hamja Ahsan, John Hoggett, Mad Chicks, Mad Pride, Nick Lloyd, Paul McMichael, Rachel Rowan Olive, Recovery in the Bin, Speak Out Against Psychiatry (SOAP), Thompson Hall, the vacuum cleaner and Hana Madness, Vince Laws and BA Curating students from Goldsmiths College.

Events Programme

Dolly Sen and contributing artists will bring live performances and acts of protest to the gallery and site of the Bethlem Royal Hospital, including ‘bedlamb’, a ‘mad citizenship test’ and an online ‘anti-anti stigma’ campaign day.

Arts and mental health festival Bonkersfest will be resurrected for one day at the Dragon Café, and Denise McKenna, co-founder of Mental Health Resistance Network will deliver the annual Robert Dellar memorial lecture.

Details will be released soon with info on how to book.

Art & Protest: What’s there to be mad about? Is running in parallel to the Bethlem Museum of the Mind’s exhibition Impatient! Stories of service user advocacy.

Impatient! Stories of service user advocacy

7 September 2019 – 4 January 2020

Those with a history of contact with mental health services have sought representation, support and advocacy for centuries. Service user advocacy groups are varied in nature: from grassroots to national, informal to established, conservative to radical, they reflect the diversity of society. This exhibition highlights the material culture of some of these groups, and charts the development and impact of their voices, and the challenges they have faced.

Image credit:

Help the Normals by Dolly Sen

detail from A is for Awkward by Rachel Rowan Olive

Universal Credit by Thompson Hall

In Chains by the vacuum cleaner and Hana Madness (image credit: I Gusti Ayu Azarine Kyla Arint)

Leanne Chambers from DWP Deaths Make Me Sick shrouds by Vince Laws

detail from pillbox outfoxed by gobscure

Photographic documentation of Pull Yourself Together by Bobby Baker, London 2000 © Hugo Glendinning