Bobby Baker, the AHRC Creative Fellow with the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary, University of London, has launched her first major visual art exhibition.
8 April 2009
Comprising of 159 high quality photographic prints of water-colour paintings, the exhibition shows one person’s experience of severe mental and physical illness and recovery. The drawings chart her treatment in day hospitals and acute psychiatric wards, psychological therapies, medication and the NHS mental health ‘system’, as well as her family life, friends and work, and the joy of slowly getting better.
The images, carefully selected by Baker with her daughter Dora Whittuck, a trainee clinical psychologist, are drawn from 711 drawings made over the last 11 years. The drawings are captioned so as to give a clear account of her journey. The exhibition displays the harrowing realities of living with mental illness and society’s lack of understanding, using artistry and humour to break down the barriers commonly associated with talking about mental health.
Her drawings were never intended to be shown publically; instead they were a means to communicate with the ‘professionals’ whilst in care. “From their desperate origins they grew into an essential part of my life as an artist,” explained Baker.
“They seem to communicate, more effectively than words, aspects of what my experience of mental illness has been, on so many unexpected levels. A good dollop of humour sometimes comes in handy when looking at the darkest times,” she added.
Bobby Baker is one of the most widely acclaimed and popular performance artists working today. She was trained as a painter at St Martins School of Art but, on leaving found cake and performance more effective ways to express her ideas. In 2005 Baker was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Creative Fellowship in the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary. As part of her fellowship, a retrospective of her 35-year career, Bobby Baker: Redeeming features of daily life edited by Michèle Barrett and Bobby Baker was published by Routledge in October 2007.
Baker’s collection will be on display at the Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE until 2 August 2009. Admission is free. For more information visit http://www.wellcomecollection.org/.
For media information, contact:Rupert Marquand