How do our understandings of time relate to our mental health? How do notions of recovery connect to ideas of productivity? How is our mental health supported within the workplace?
Organised in collaboration with Bethlem Gallery, this event features performances, interventions and conversations exploring resilience, care and survival in relation to mental health, questioning our conceptions of ‘recovery’.
Contributors include the artists Sarah Carpenter and the vacuum cleaner, alongside Bethlem Gallery Director Beth Elliot and co-curator Sam Curtis.
14.00-18.00: Participatory drawing-based activity led by Sarah Carpenter
16.00: Performance by the vacuum cleaner, introduced by Beth Elliot
16.30-17.30: Informal discussion with Sarah Carpenter, the vacuum cleaner, Sam Curtis and Beth Elliot
the vacuum cleaner
the vacuum cleaner is an art and activism collective of one. Working across forms including performance, installation and film, the vacuum cleaner addresses challenging and taboo issues such as consumerism and mental health. From one man shows to large scale participatory actions, his approach is both subtle and extreme, but always candid, provocative and playful. the vacuum cleaner’s work has been exhibited throughout the UK, and recent major commissions include Wellcome Collection, Broadmoor Hospital and FACT. Recent international commissions include Festespiele/Gessnerallee (Zurich) and Vooruit/Dr Guislain Hospital Museum (Ghent).
Sarah Carpenter is an artist, designer and photographer producing mixed-media work. With a Postgraduate Certificate in Design for Visual Communication from London College of Communication (part of University of the Arts London), recent projects include a commission inspired by the British Museum and work exhibited at Saatchi Gallery.
“My inspiration comes from my experience of mental illness. My methodology reflects how I process information; taking something, reimagining it, exploring its possibilities and making something new. Breaking things down, seeing them from a different perspective / in different contexts helps me find something I can relate to / understand. Play and experimentation aid my learning.”
Sam Curtis joined Bethlem Gallery in 2014 as co-curator. Sam is also a practising artist and graduated from Goldsmiths MFA Fine Art programme in 2008. He has exhibited across the UK, Europe and the USA and is represented by Division of Labour.
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. Exhibitions and events are programmed throughout the year presenting a wide range of mediums and contemporary practice. The gallery is an ideal platform for experimentation, collaboration and skills exchange. Collectively we strive to develop the careers, experience and expertise of the gallery artists by creating opportunities for professional development. Our successful artist-in-residence projects also work with patients and staff on site to improve people’s experience of the hospital environment.
If you’re interested in learning more, Sam and the vacuum cleaner recommend the following:
- Mark Fisher, The Politics of Depression: Mark Fisher on Mental Health and Class Confidence, RS21, (27 April 2014)
- Surviving Work, an eBook made up of a series of blogs by practitioners and thinkers in the field of workplace relations to think about how to make friends and influence people in a context of precarious work
- Madlove, a project lead by the artists the vacuum cleaner and Hannah Hull based on their experience of mental health, and desire to find a positive space to experience mental distress and enlightenment