Living Structure, Mr X, 2020
Photograph, Ronnie, 2020

Welcome to the New Fragile

23rd September – 7th November  Bethlem Gallery
Open By appointment

At this moment in time, I think it is important that we start thinking outside of the box (literally). I will be heart-broken if globally, we don’t take this time as an opportunity to reflect on the “how”, “why” and “what” we are doing to come out of the other side of this with systemic change. 

 I always remember being told as a designer that constraints actually make for more possibilities which really is the truth. We need problems in order to create solutions and evolve. 

– Sarah Carpenter, Open School Remote email response


‘Welcome to the New Fragile’ celebrates our ability to make connections with other people and our surroundings.

With photographs taken in the Bethlem grounds lining the Gallery walls, artists and technicians will collaborate to create Living Structures – vehicles to carry us forward to an uncertain but hopeful future.  The exhibition will expand on design models pioneered in the US in the ‘60s, using Gridbeam to build spaces to live and dream in. This utopian, but practical, system originated with the work of designer Ken Isaacs who believed it was necessary for the public to become actively involved in the design and creation of their built environments. He developed concepts where people with only minimal skills could create their own customised structures to make the best use of restricted living spaces.

‘Welcome to the New Fragile’ is a collaboration between the Gallery and staff and residents of Waddon ward, and other current and previous residents of River House Medium Secure Unit. The exhibition will be a space for the development of 6 Living Structures, designed by residents and built remotely by artist-OTs in the Gallery. Throughout the exhibition, we will be documenting and assessing the decisions made during the design process to describe the vital but often invisible partnerships between service-users and artist-staff at Bethlem.

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