21st September - 11th November
Reclaiming Asylum
Bethlem Gallery
Open 10am - 5pm Wednesday - Friday. Including first and last Saturdays of the month

Opening 21 September, 3 – 5pm

Exhibition continues: 22 September – 11 November

Set against the historic backdrop of Bedlam and nearly 800 years of changing approaches to mental health care, this exhibition explores the notion of asylum and asks: what might constitute refuge, sanctuary and protection today?

Many of the artists in this exhibition have made new artworks in response to the Bethlem Royal Hospital, exploring the institution and its space; working with the hospital as a site and resource for artistic practice. Lived experience of mental illness and personal experiences of navigating mental health care inform some of the ideas, research and responses in this exhibition, where the notion of asylum is opened up through diverse individual perspectives.

Join us for the opening event on Wednesday 21 September from 3-5pm where the Artist Taxi Driver will be giving a one-time only performance using video, spoken word and live music. In the hospital grounds, visual artists Jane Fradgley and Shane Waltener will be presenting their new performance strung, performed by dance artist Laura Glaser and sonic artist Zoe Gilmour. The artists, supported by videographer Antonia Atwood, will also be showing an accompanying film in the gallery. We are also very pleased to be unveiling a new site-specific commission for the hospital grounds by Mark Titchner.

Reclaiming Asylum presents artworks by an invited selection of artists who have a connection to the gallery that includes current and former patients, artists who have used the services of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and long-term artistic collaborators.

Artist Taxi Driver, Bethlem Wood Library, David Beales, Sarah Carpenter, Stewart Dallas, Jane Fradgley and Shane Waltener, G, Sara Haq, Beth Hopkins, Christina Kral, Matthew, John McGill, Mr X, Daniel Regan and Mark Titchner as well as contributions from patients and staff of the Bethlem Royal Hospital, Hospital Vrapce in Croatia and the Azienda USL di Reggio Emilia in Italy.


Click here for our PROGRAMME OF EVENTS 

Click here for exhibition guide


We are very pleased that Reclaiming Asylum is taking place in collaboration with Wellcome Collection, where a major exhibition – ‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ – curated by Mike Jay and Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz, will run from 15 September 2016, until 15 January 2017. Reclaiming Asylum will also run alongside a wider programme of events and exhibitions that expand on perspectives of asylum throughout history up to the current day. A parallel exhibition ‘Bethlem: The weight of history’ will run at Bethlem’s Museum of the Mind; Lambeth Hospital will feature the Adamson Collection; and a new exhibition will open at the Maudsley Hospital’s Long Gallery.


Image credits: pull by Jane Fradgley and Shane Waltener, Proposals (Nr. 04) by Christina Kral, On the Ward by David Beales, Site intervention by Mr X and the Open School and a ‘Shelfie’ photograph from Sara Haq’s Dreaming Aloud series