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Outsider Gallery: London’s first mental health gallery

Tuesday 11 October 2016
Words Spindle

To coincide with World Mental Health Day yesterday, London’s Outsider Gallery is currently holding an exhibition where all of the artwork on display and music showcased was created by mental health patients. Opening officially last Friday (7th October), the space has opened to the public as London’s first mental health art gallery.

But this is not just an exhibition: the gallery is based at the Clarendon Recovery College, and all the art was created in therapy sessions run by art therapist Ben Wakeling and music therapist Jon Hall. The pair have found that that art and music can help people get their lives back on track after time in hospital, and the NHS are funding them to provide care for young people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to receive support. Their sessions normally consist of both therapists working in the same room but doing their own thing, inviting patients to create art or music. Both happen simultaneously, so the room is full of music being made while other people draw on paper, the walls, or maybe themselves.

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The former therapy rooms now display the patients’ work, featuring paintings, drawings, sculptures, photography and street-style art. The work explores individual struggles with mental health and journeys through therapy. The aim of the exhibition is to broaden the discussion around mental health and promote work created by people who have been affected by a variety of issues. Wakeling and Hall also wanted to celebrate mental health and openly discuss it in a time where a great deal of stigma still circulates.

Creative forms of therapy can clearly have an extremely positive affect on the lives of people who suffer from issues with their mental health, and be an uplifting experience for all involved. Exhibiting the work created in these therapies has been an effective way to tackle the prejudices and misconceptions that still surround one of modern day’s greatest taboos.

Outsider Gallery is open Monday-Friday and located at Clarendon Recovery College, Clarendon Road, London, N8 0DJ.