Last week I attended the opening of the Lazarides Gallery’s third and final collaboration with the Old Vic Tunnels, ‘Bedlam.’ For this exhibition, Steve Lazarides commissioned artists to encapsulate the brutality and horror historically associated with London’s infamous Victorian mental asylum, Bethlam (commonly known as ‘Bedlam.’) Lazarides explained, “everyone in the art world is crazy anyway, but different artists took different things from the idea. For some it became about chaos, for others it was more medical.”
Just as the Victorians would walk around Bedlam staring at the patients, completely fascinated and intrigued by their erratic behaviour, I too walked around the Old Vic Tunnels (the most perfect venue for this exhibition’s creepy theme!) both fascinated and intrigued by the plethora of dramatic art, sculptures and installations on display.
Below Centre: Hamish Jenkinson, the Director of the Old Vic Tunnels, amongst the art.
Some stand out pieces for me were Tobias Klein’s ammonium sulphate crystal angel (patients at Bedlam would have these crystals placed beneath their skin as part of their treatment), the giant spinning swing (another treatment was to shake the mentally ill ‘back to their senses’) and Tessa Fraiser’s hanging mobile made up of rats, animal skeletons and insect wings… Quite the most disturbing thing I’ve seen in a long time.
The thin line between genius and madness was made very clear to me at this show leaving me feeling confused and ultimately disturbed – the artist’s intention I'm sure! This show will certainly leave you with an impression… and perhaps some nightmares...
Below Centre: Hamish Jenkinson interviewing gorgeous DJ/Presenter Izzy Lawrence.
'Bedlam,' presented by the Lazarides Gallery is on until October 21st. Entrance is free.