Exhibition captures life in former asylum

May 30 2018

AN EXHIBITION will capture life at a former Fishponds asylum through a collection of drawings, photographs and artefacts relating to mental health care.

The collection will reveal what life was like at Glenside Hospital and its predecessor, Bristol Mental Hospital, from 1861 to 1994.

The exhibition, which runs until June 9 at Bristol City Hall, includes beautiful documentary drawings by Denis Reed, an artist and patient which show what life was like at the psychiatric hospital in the 1950s, shortly after the NHS had taken over the management. 

The displays have been loaned from Glenside Hospital Museum, which is based in the Grade II listed Victorian asylum church within the grounds of the former psychiatric hospital in Blackberry Hill.

The selection of photographs and artefacts will give insight into the hospital at a time when doctors faced with ever increasing pressures to find solutions to mental illness developed many experimental cures, such as leucotomy, electro convulsive therapy and  insulin therapy.

To accompany the free exhibition there will be a series of one hour, £5 per person, experimental drawing workshops, no experience necessary and open to all. 

Supported by Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, Bristol City Council Imagination Fund and the Association of Independent Museums Pilgrims Trust Fund, the exhibition is designed to broaden the public’s understanding of mental health and inspire the creative process.

It is open from 11am-6pm on weekdays and from noon-4pm on Saturday and Sunday at City Vestibules (Park Street entrance), Bristol City Hall, at the front of the building, looking out onto College Green, BS1 5TR.

For workshop timetable and booking go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/captured-on-paper-drawing-workshop-tickets-44981262166

If you miss the exhibition you can visit Glenside Hospital Museum which also contains exhibits on the First World War when the building became Beaufort War Hospital from 1915-1919, treating just under 30,000 wounded soldiers, and giving inspiration to the artist Sir Stanley Spencer who worked there as an orderly.

The museum is open from 10am-12.30pm Wednesdays and Saturdays and is free. Tours and group visits by arrangement - visit www.glensidemuseum.org.uk to find out more.