Pull, Jane Fradgely and Shane Waltener

Reclaiming Asylum

Bethlem Gallery

21st September – 11th November 2016

Open 10am – 5pm Wednesday – Friday. Including first and last Saturdays of the month


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.

Site intervention by Mr X and the Open School
On the Ward, David Beales

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.

See below for our programme of events

Proposals (Nr. 04) by Christina Kral
‘Shelfie’ photograph, Sara Haq’s Dreaming Aloud series

Reclaiming Asylum Events


Join us for talks, walks, workshops and artistic encounters this Autumn

A three-day symposium exploring the intersections of art, architecture, psychiatry and geography

Thursday 22nd September, 16.30 – 20.00

Friday 23rd September, 16.30 – 20.00

Saturday 24th September, 13.00 – 18.00

Click here for full programme

Events are free, booking not necessary just come and join us


Orchard Walk – Bethlem Wood Library

Saturday 1 October, 11am-12pm – FREE

Please join the Bethlem Wood Library for a walk and talk on the uses of the various trees and the orchard’s history.

To book click here.


Reading the site

Saturday 29 October, 11am-1pm – FREE

Artists, writers, poets, staff and volunteers associated with the Bethlem Royal Hospital will read extracts from historical material from the Museum of the Mind’s archive alongside contemporary responses they have either written or selected. Reading the site hopes to offer some insightful reflections on life at the hospital, the experiences of patients and service users and connect people from past to present through written and spoken word.

To book click here.


Space time travel holidays – with Artist Sara Haq

Saturday 29 October, 2pm-5pm – FREE

Mysterious, intriguing, playful adventures

Book your one-to-one session with artist Sara Haq here.


Art at Bethlem

Saturday 5 November, 11am – 1pm – £5 PER TICKET – BOOK HERE

Head to Bethlem Gallery and Museum of the Mind in Beckenham to explore the site of this world-famous hospital through historical and contemporary artistic perspectives. This is a collaboration between Bethlem Gallery and Wellcome Collection in celebration of our Reclaiming Asylum exhibition and Wellcome’s Bedlam exhibition. This is a paid event, with tea and cake included.



Wellcome Collection – Alternative asylums

Thursday 10 November, 7pm-9pm – FREE – Please book from Wellcome Collection from 28 October

What would an ideal asylum look like? Is there such a thing as a safe place to go mad? Come and discuss alternative places of safety, including R D Laing’s controversial Kingsley Hall and the Belgian city of Geel’s unique model of psychiatric care. This is a collaboration between Wellcome Collection and Bethlem

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