An Ecology of Mind brings together four artists, with contributions from technicians and staff across the Bethlem site, all with an interest in the complex relationships that connect art, ecology and health.
Recent research has demonstrated how our mental health is positively influenced by access to green spaces, but there has been a centuries-old association between our inner and outer ‘natures’.
The Gallery site itself reflects changes in attitudes at the turn of the last century: the hospital moved out of the city at a time when gardens and parks began to be an integral part of treatment. In line with new thinking about the influence of the environment on what would now be called ‘wellbeing’, residents were given access to nature and fresh air, and the possibility of engaging in therapeutic work.
The artists and contributors selected for the exhibition respond to these themes from singular perspectives. Some deliberately seek solace in the outside world and non-human modes of being. Others, compelled by the pandemic to turn inwards, find worlds within themselves. All of the artists see nature as a resource – for images and metaphors, but also more directly as a source of material for forming objects and relationships.
During the exhibition, there will be a series of public workshops re-imagining the Bethlem hospital grounds as a cultural & natural ‘commons’. Artists will build on the local knowledge of hospital staff, residents and visitors to produce guides and toolkits to help us revisit our relationship to the world, ourselves and each other.
Explore the exhibition artists, contributors and events below.
Urban Mind is a research project by King’s College London, landscape architects J&L Gibbons and arts foundation Nomad Projects.
The app measures your experience of urban and rural living in the moment. Using the app will help the team understand how urban and rural living is affecting mental wellbeing. After downloading and installing the app on your smartphone, Urban Mind requires you to provide some basic information about your lifestyle and mental wellbeing.
Once you have provided this, you will be asked to answer a series of questions about your current urban or rural environment, lifestyle and mental wellbeing, three times per day over a period of two weeks. During each assessment you will also have the option of taking a photograph of the ground or floor where you are standing and/or a 8 second audio recording of your surrounding environment. These photographs and audio files will be used in a digital art exhibition related to the study.
By collecting real-time data, the team will be able to understand how different aspects of the urban environment affect mental wellbeing. We hope that the results will inform future urban planning and social policy aimed at improving design & health.
Drop-In Cyanotype Workshop with Melanie King
Saturday 9th July 2022, 10am-3pm
Join Melanie King to make a large fabric cyanotype in the grounds of Bethlem Gallery. We will use plants and objects found on site, and watch as the sun develops our fabric print. The resulting print will be displayed on site.
Melanie King is a working-class artist and curator, originally from Manchester, UK. Melanie is now based in Ramsgate, Kent, UK. She is co-Director of super/collider, Lumen Studios and founder of the London Alternative Photography Collective. She is Lecturer In Photography at Canterbury Christ Church University, and is represented by the Land Art Agency.
Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson
Lateisha is a performer, writer, theatre-maker, somatic practitioner, educator, community-healer, curator and facilitator of Jamaican heritage who enjoys swimming in open water, tending to what grows and plant-based cooking/nurturing/futuring.
Lateisha inhabits embodied tools for connection, intimacy and transformation – creatively accessing tools and healing pathways we need to live, love, and thrive through and beyond trauma, marginalisation and oppression.
Their work flows across intersections of race, gender, queerness, class, earth-climate and (dis)placement/diaspora, rooted in prophetic wisdoms of Black, Indigenous and POC queer feminist ecologies. Working intergenerationally and interdimensionally through social-engagement over the last 15 years.
I wasn’t diagnosed as autistic until 2015. I spent more than half a century either “masking” (pretending to be like everyone else) or in hiding. School and work bullies figured it out long before the doctors did. Maybe that’s why you see my work as “inward looking”. The outside world is hard work for me a lot of the time.
The true reason why I didn’t want my art to be in student exhibitions was that I didn’t want a lot of fuss. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. These days I am slightly thicker skinned and very keen for my art to be seen by a wider audience than just myself.
“I’m Nearly Healthy” is a line from Your Heart Out a song by my favourite group The Fall. Listening to this track on YouTube may seriously impair your enjoyment of the art. Don’t do it. Some of my artworks which the Bethlem Gallery has in storage are named after Fall songs. I often listen to their music (at very low volume to avoid enraging people in neighbouring rooms) whilst making the collages.
Just take for instance
A time of great depression
Fade out of reason
Bad time’s in season
Don’t shut your heart out
Don’t cry your eyes out
Don’t cry for me, Mexico
Or Savage Pencil
I’m nearly healthy
And they try to take my eyes out
Friends try to work my soul out
But I don’t sing, I just shout
Heavy clout, heart out
Aidan Moesby is an artist, curator and writer who explores civic and personal wellbeing through a body of work that is at once playful, intimate, questioning and deeply human. His practice is a socially engaged one, rooted in research and response – in conversation of many kinds. He works extensively within arts and health and has a particular interest in the spaces where art, technology and wellbeing intersect. Aidan regularly curates and participates in events and discussions which centre these ideas.
Underpinning his work investigating the dual crises of Climate Change and Mental Health is an exploration into the relationships between the outer ‘physical weather’ we experience, and our ‘internal psycho-emotional weather’. He brings a nuanced and insightful approach to the emotional context of working with climate change and the deep inter-connectedness between the natural and social environments within modern life. Equally likely to be found beyond formal arts institutions as within them, his practice includes both Disability Arts and mainstream representation as artist and curator.
My inspiration for my photography comes from finding pockets of beauty in what seems to be a very restrictive way of life. You the viewer will be able to see the stark contrast between the beautiful flowers and the very oppressive gloom of the structures which surround this place. It is just a little taste of the environment in which I live.
Karta works with clay, found materials, paint and photography in the “arts in health” and social engagement domain, recognizing the role creativity plays in building communities and increasing wellness in participants. She was an Artist in Residence with the Centre for the Study of Substructured Loss (Toronto), where she began the thematic exploration of clay handling, with emphasis on making as a way to document and move through common human experiences such as grief and loss. During the pandemic with Relational Space Gallery (New York) she co-created “Long Covid We Are Here” a virtual reality installation to stimulate discussion and research on Long Covid. She is part of the Bethlem Gallery Artist Community (London) and delivers clay workshops under their umbrella.