The new exhibition – Switching Perceptions – untangles the fragile threads of the human mind through delicate, detailed explorations into what creates a sense of self, and the relationship to psychiatric conditions.
Switching Perceptions will take place at the Bethlem Gallery from 5 January to 30 March 2019. Open 10am to 5pm Wednesday to Friday, including the first and last Saturdays of the month.
"The exciting part about this collaboration is the way that my discussions and work with Eleanor have evolved over time and the amazing engagement by people on the ward. They chose to join us, to create their own artworks, as well as just to chat about their lives, science and the intersection of the two. Exploring with them their experiences and perspectives on their illness gave me a meaningful insight into their lives and a way for them to connect, in their own words and on their terms. I look forward to continuing my collaboration with Eleanor and people on the ward to explore these issues further," said Associate Professor Liz Tunbridge.
Switching Perceptions also presents work by two patients from the National Psychosis Unit at Bethlem Royal Hospital. The patients have created a series of drawings and text works exploring their own sense of self, belief, faith, feelings and nature. One of the contributions was a conceptual Think Tank, a space to connect clinicians, academics, patients and other specialists. Visualised in diagrams created with Eleanor, it has evolved into a public event to be held during the exhibition.
Talking about the workshops Eleanor Minney, artist, said, "To me there has been a real importance in working collaboratively, alongside one another, trying not to place focus on our unequal situations or the things that separate us, rather on a shared experience of making work together. I have been very fortunate to work with Liz on this project, it has been an illuminating and very organic experience and it continues to be a complex and interesting space to occupy as an artist – trying to use my artwork and my role as an artist to bridge a gap between disciplines and communities and to bring different questions to our minds."
Exploring the question, 'What creates a sense of self?' Liz's ongoing research aims to elucidate the links between individual genes and predisposition to psychiatric illnesses, with Eleanor's artistic enquiry probing some of the central themes and implications of this challenging meeting between science and subjective human experience.
The Bethlem Gallery, established 1997, is situated on the grounds of The Bethlem Royal Hospital. Managed by a small, artist-led team, the gallery provides a professional space for high-quality artwork and fosters a supportive artist-focused environment.
The work and exhibition is funded by a public engagement from the Royal Society and a University of Oxford Public Engagement in Research Seed Award.
For more information visit: Bethlem Gallery website
Listen to the podcast with Niall Boyce talking to artist Eleanor Minney and Professor Liz Tunbridge about their collaboration exploring genetics and mental health.