Friday, August 05, 2022

Bethlem Museum of the Mind/Bethlem Gallery

The Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham (Monks Orchard Road) is one of the world's oldest mental health institutions. Starting out near Bishopsgate in the City of London in the 13th century,  it moved to Moorfields in 1676, and then to St George's Fields in Southwark in 1815, now site of the Imperial War Museum.  It moved again to the spacious grounds of Monks Orchard in 1930. The word 'bedlam' derives from its name.

It has in short been a place of much suffering and some healing over many years, a history that is covered in the Bethlem Museum of the Mind located in the hospital's former admin building.

The stairs to the museum are guarded by two statues which for centuries adorned the gates to Bethlam at its former locations.

The museum  aims to record 'the lives and experience and celebrates the achievements of people with mental health problems' as well as providing an overview of the history of their treatment, much of it cruel.

The well lit and contemporary designed museum also features original work by artists and former patients such as Richard Dadd and Louis Wain (famous for his cat pictures), while the Bethlem Gallery on the ground floor is an exhibition space for art by current service users.

On my recent visit I took part in a community Cyanotype Workshop Drop-in at Bethlem Gallery with Melanie King. The technique involves laying objects on solution treated paper and exposing in sunlight, leaving images behind. In my example below this included a fern, a feather, some Chinese coins and a small Kuan Yin figure.

Mad Pride sticker on Bethlem car park sign

The Museum/Gallery is free and is open Wednesday - Friday, as well as some Saturdays  (check website for details).


Tuesday, August 02, 2022

'F*ck Covid Hoaxers'

'F*ck covid hoaxers - they're antisemitic dickheads'
Nunhead, July 2022