Tate Britain Talk

Traces of the Mind: Art, trauma and loss

Max Ernst, ‘Celebes’ 1921
Max Ernst, Celebes 1921. Tate. © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2018

Explore the impact of trauma and loss on art and culture across generations after World War I

Coinciding with Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War I, this panel discussion explores the parallels between the growth and evolution of psychiatry in Britain after the war and the impact of trauma and loss on art and culture across generations.

Focusing on artistic expression and creative experimentation in the years immediately after 1918, this event considers movements such as dada and surrealism that helped reframe post-war cultural imagination. Dada's rejection of rational thought and exploration of ‘convulsive beauty’ in surrealism were shaped by artists’ memories and experiences of the war, leaving long-lasting and powerful traces on the mind. Simultaneously, the ‘New Psychology’ emerged as an alternative to traditional asylum psychiatry in the aftermath of war in the UK.

The panel will draw connections between artists’ responses to trauma, hysteria and loss and the influence of ‘New Psychology’, and the impact still seen today.​


Dawn Ades

Dawn Ades is Professor Emerita of the History and Theory of Art at the University of Essex, Professor of the History of Art at the Royal Academy, a former trustee of Tate (1995-2005) and of the National Gallery (2000-2005) and a Fellow of the British Academy. In 2013 she was made CBE for services to higher education. She was Associate Curator for Manifesta 9 (2012). Her most recent exhibition is Dalí/Duchamp, curated with William Jeffett, of the Salvador Dalí Museum at St Petersburg, Florida, (Royal Academy and the Dalí Museum 2017-18).

Caroline Garland

Caroline Garland is a Psycho-analyst, and Consultant Clinical Psychologist who worked in the Tavistock Clinic for over 30 years. In 1987 she founded the Tavistock's Trauma Unit, which now receives referrals both nationally and internationally. She has written, taught internationally, and published widely on the subject of psychological trauma in adults. This together with her interest in group dynamics and group therapy has led to much consultative work with traumatised organisations.

Jane Wilson

Jane Wilson is an artist practitioner who has been working in collaboration with her twin sister, Louise Wilson, since 1989. Currently she is joint Professor of Fine Art at Newcastle University with Louise (2017-). Prior to this she was Senior Tutor of Moving Image at R.C.A. (2015-2017). She has held many exhibitions both nationally and internationally, most recently Sealander, a two person presentation at the Focus Gallery at The Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Jane is also a board member of DACS.

Timothy Secret

Timothy Secret is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Winchester. His recent work focuses on death, mourning and madness in contemporary French thought. His book The Politics and Pedagogy of Mourning was recently published in paperback by Bloomsbury. Since being awarded the title BBC & AHRC New Generation Thinker, he has made numerous media appearances and worked with a selection of contemporary artists.

Tate Britain

The Clore Auditorium

London SW1P 4RG
Plan your visit

Date & Time

30 June 2018 at 13.00–15.00