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The Bethlem Tapestry: World Mental Health Day 2010

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A new exhibition is now open at the Bethlem Gallery, the result of a project led by artist Mark McGowan, and involving patients, staff, volunteers and carers at the Bethlem Royal Hospital Psychosis Unit. The tapestry, the culmination of a six month project initiated by Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Sukhi Shergill, has been created on ten metres of stretched silk. It is comprised of images and text made by the participants depicting experiences, thoughts and feelings in their daily lives over the period of the project and will be permanently installed on the ward for the long-term enjoyment of patients, visitors and staff.

Well-known London performance artist, Mark McGowan is a former patient of the Bethlem Royal Hospital. Mark described the tapestry project as an opportunity to give something back to the Bethlem Royal Hospital, part of the South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM). “I was very ill and came to SLaM in a really bad state. As a patient I was given access to the arts facilities and never looked back.”

Since leaving the Bethlem, Mark went on to complete an art degree and now teaches at Chelsea & Camberwell Colleges of Art, having travelled the world through his art projects. The Bethlem Tapestry has proved popular with patients and staff. Ken, a patient on the Psychosis Unit, said the project made him feel happier and more relaxed, “Anyone was welcome to join in, we had something to do, something productive using the imagination.”

The exhibition coincides with World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2010: the Gallery and Museum will both be open on Saturday 9 October in celebration. Running since 1992, World Mental Health Day aims to promote greater public awareness and understanding of mental health and mental illness.

Exhibition open: 23rd September - 15th October 2010

Wed, Thurs, Friday, 11am – 6pm (including Saturday 9th October 11am - 6pm, celebrating World Mental Health Day 2010)

For travel information, visit the Bethlem Gallery website.