November 4, 2016 in CTS - Victoria

35The Bedlam exhibition: the asylum and beyond at the Welcome Collection was one that I attended today. Unfortunately the venue has rules against taking photos inside the exhibition due to copyright rules so I was not able to take any pictures of anything that I was seeing beyond the entrance hall.

The history behind this exhibition came from the methods and practises used in mental asylums all the way from the 1600’s up until today. Various techniques used by not only doctors but also artists, sociologists, religious leaders and psychologists are presented in different ways throughout the course of the exhibition. The use of the name ‘Bedlam’ came from a previous 13th Century hospital in London called the ‘Bethlam Hospital’ specialising in mental healthcare.

The first noticeable thing when you first enter the exhibition is that the room lighting is dimmed to produce a somewhat creepy or haunted feel that you may associate with mental asylums. It was also un-naturally quiet which definitely added to this overall feeling.

The exhibition was set up so that each event followed the one before it, in historical order, starting with the oldest and ending with the most recent pieces of work. The piece that I liked the most was called ‘Asylum by Eva Kotatkova’. Here is an image I was able to find of the piece:


The piece is based on the internal effects on a patient and more specifically the way that it would make them feel. It features a woman’s head surrounded by metal cage like bars and a brick wall situated directly in-front of the girls face. The piece acts as a metaphor showing you that mental illnesses create barriers and put walls up for people who are suffering from them. Often, socially it can be hard and something that many will never get over completely.

Overall, the exhibition showed me that mental hospitals are not always as though you would seem. They can be various things including open public spaces where people go to participate in activities with one another – they are not always secluded and away from the general public.


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