TW // Trigger warning: The exhibition film includes reference to death, a mental-health crisis and racism. Please see below for some information about support.
This exhibition is about Olaseni Lewis. Seni died on the 3rd September 2010 after being restrained by up to 11 policemen whilst he was seeking help as a voluntary patient at the Bethlem Royal Hospital during his first ever psychotic episode.
Both the film and Mark Titchner’s work on the gallery walls were made as part of the project Mental Health and Justice, in which researchers and artists are exploring legal capacity in mental health care. Both works contribute to the wider campaign Justice for Seni: www.justiceforseni.com.
In 2018, the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act, or ‘Seni’s Law’ was passed as a result of campaigning by the Lewis family and their local MP Steve Reed.
About the film
Overnight on 24th June 2020, graffiti reading ‘RIP SENI’ appeared on a public artwork outside Bethlem Royal Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in South London. The red spray-painted letters referred to Seni Lewis, a 23-year-old black man from Croydon who died at the hands of 11 police officers while in the care of the hospital in 2010.
The artwork had been created by Turner-prize nominee Mark Titchner, as part of the Mental Health and Justice Project. It was made up of eight mirrored placards asking questions about mental capacity and assessment, which meant there was a powerful and surreal resonance between the artworks and this new graffiti.
Reflecting multiple perspectives on this event, we hear from Seni’s friends and family, mental health professionals and Bethlem Royal Hospital service users. The film also features an intimate group discussion between Aji Lewis, Marcia Rigg, Anna Susianta and Donna Mooney, all who have lost loved ones at the hands of the state.
‘RIP SENI’ covers what happened to Seni, the crisis of mental health and racism in the UK, the long fight for justice and what happens when members of the public take art into their own hands.
RIP SENI was Commissioned by Bethlem Gallery and the Lewis Family
Director: Daisy Ifama
Creative: Lizzie Reid
Producer: Grace Shutti
Executive Producer: Lucy Owen
Viewing the film: FAQs
Daily screening: We will screen the film daily at 12 midday but do feel free to ask us to see it any other time during opening hours.
On demand viewing: During your visit during regular opening hours (Weds-Fri 10-5), you can ask a member of staff to view the film. The sound plays through speakers. We will close the blinds to make the room dark enough to see for the duration of the film.
Groups: To enable social distancing we are restricting the number of visitors to the gallery space to 5 at any time. If you would like to book in advance for a group of up to 5 to see the film, please call or email the gallery (020 32 284 101 / firstname.lastname@example.org).
Online link: You can also see the film any time online on the Guardian website here.
Our handout about Aftercare and resources is here.
About Mark Titchner’s Some questions about us
Some questions about us (pictured) consists of a series of mirrored placards which each confront a direct question. These forthright questions relate to issues around mental capacity and assessment, but can also be read more widely around issues of personal autonomy or the individual’s relationship to the state and the fragility of this position.
The artwork was developed as part of the Mental Health and Justice project (www.mhj.org.uk), a multi-disciplinary research initiative with researchers at Kings College London, funded by Wellcome.
If during your visit you would like to talk to a member of staff about any of the subjects raised here, please let us know. We can offer you a cup of tea, you are welcome to sit in our studio, and we also suggest a walk in the beautiful grounds.
If you’ve been affected by anything that you’ve seen in this exhibition or web page, or you’d like more information and support, you can find resources on the BBC’s Action Line website for Racism and Racist Hate Crime here, and Mental-health and Self-harm here.
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust’s crisis support information page is here.