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A drop in the ocean: Daniel Regan

‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ interrogates the original ideal that the asylum represented – a place of refuge, sanctuary and care – and asks whether and how it could be reclaimed. This blog series intends to showcase as many different voices and perspectives from people with lived experience of mental ill health and explore their ideas of personal asylum.

This post is from Daniel Regan, a photographer who showed work in Bethlem Gallery’s ‘Reclaiming Asylum’ exhibition late last year.

I began feeling that something wasn’t quite right in my early teens. Looking back on it now I remember thinking that my thoughts seemed jumbled, tangled and different from my peers. My emotional experiences were felt so deeply; my responses were not the same as those around me at that age. As I got further into my teens, I withdrew into myself and began to self-harm. I could never quite figure out how to make sense of the chaos in my mind, but then I discovered photography, which helped me begin to express the brief moments of clarity. Continue reading

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A drop in the ocean: Sarah Carpenter

‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ interrogates the original ideal that the asylum represented – a place of refuge, sanctuary and care – and asks whether and how it could be reclaimed. This blog series intends to showcase as many different voices and perspectives from people with lived experience of mental ill health and explore their ideas of personal asylum.

This post is from Sarah Carpenter, an artist who showed work in Bethlem Gallery’s ‘Reclaiming Asylum’ exhibition earlier this year.

Having suffered for many years with depression, anxiety and eating disorders, I have found refuge in my art and cannot begin to explain how much it means to me to be able to produce my work.

Having spent a long time with so many things on my mind, my recovery has cleared space in my mind and life for more creativity. I now use art to proactively utilise my energy and in turn keep up the momentum of my recovery. It allows “me time” to do something that I enjoy and am passionate about as a way of self-soothing. Continue reading

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A drop in the ocean: In the old asylums

‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ interrogates the original ideal that the asylum represented – a place of refuge, sanctuary and care – and asks whether and how it could be reclaimed. This blog series intends to showcase as many different voices and perspectives from people with lived experience of mental ill health and explore their ideas of personal asylum.

This post is from David Beales, an artist and writer who showed work in Bethlem Gallery’s ‘Reclaiming Asylum’ exhibition. In his own words, David confronts the issue of prejudice against the mentally ill by using informative illustration and captions to raise awareness of the problems confronting the mentally ill in the community.

Though there were overcrowded dormitories in the old asylums and patients were caught in a poverty trap, usually inmates for life, it was not all grim. The food may have been overcooked, but it was at least regular and on time. In one hospital I remember (and they tended to be similar) there were films in the hall on Wednesday afternoons: pre-war black and white films, ghostly projections on a large, old roll down screen, with the dated dialogue and classical music soundtrack adding to the eerie effect. Continue reading

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A drop in the ocean: The first half hour

‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ interrogates the original ideal that the asylum represented – a place of refuge, sanctuary and care – and asks whether and how it could be reclaimed. This blog series intends to showcase as many different voices and perspectives from people with lived experience of mental ill health and explore their ideas of personal asylum.

This post is from Matthew, a resident of Bethlem Royal Hospital and an artist showing work in Bethlem Gallery’s ‘Reclaiming Asylum’ exhibition. 

Background

Matthew has built up a practice of walking the site over several years, exploring the huge grounds as part of his daily routine. Through his physical exploration of the grounds, he uncovers hidden objects and remnants of past life. In ‘Reclaiming Asylum’, Matthew presents a sculptural map of the Bethlem Royal Hospital from his own perspective that includes areas of refuge, relaxation and opportunities for creative practice. Continue reading

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A drop in the ocean: Karim Harvey

‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ interrogates the original ideal that the asylum represented – a place of refuge, sanctuary and care – and asks whether and how it could be reclaimed. This blog series intends to showcase as many different voices and perspectives from people with lived experience of mental ill health and explore their ideas of personal asylum.

This post is from Karim Harvey, an accomplished poet whose writing practice, in his own words, “heeds the decline of moral ambition, isolation and creative inclusion.”

Nearly forty years ago I spent time in an old asylum. The revolving door syndrome ensued. There was sparing hope for my condition, and enforced medication. The poem below relates to little wonder and physical confinement. The reality, the escape through the mind. And how recovery through the mental health maze can happen. Asking questions, still having the ability to dream. Continue reading

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A drop in the ocean: Beth Hopkins

‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ interrogates the original ideal that the asylum represented – a place of refuge, sanctuary and care – and asks whether and how it could be reclaimed. This blog series intends to showcase as many different voices and perspectives from people with lived experience of mental ill health and explore their ideas of personal asylum. 

This post comes from Beth Hopkins, an artist showing work in Bethlem Gallery’s ‘Reclaiming Asylum’ exhibition.

I was honoured to be asked to create a piece for ‘Reclaiming Asylum‘. It’s been quite a journey to arrive at my piece, an embroidered pillow case from Bethlem Hospital.

The brief was to create a piece exploring the notion of asylum: what might constitute refuge, sanctuary and protection today? Before my piece grew into what it is now, I had several other ideas; all of them intensely personal. For some time I considered revisiting the room I was sectioned in on the intensive care ward. I had very clear, strange memories of how ill I was there. Continue reading