In search of a free space for positive madness
‘A safe place to go mad’ – this is what artists James Leadbitter and Hannah Hull have in mind. A safe, loving place where deviations from the mental norm are not supressed, but given free rein. Together with people experienced in this area, doctors, academics, artists and designers, they are working on a blueprint for the most cheerfully crazy madhouse you could dare to dream up. Through this research, they will attempt to dissect the existing power relations between patients, doctors and other interested parties while breaking through the dominant taboos and prejudices surrounding mental illness. Can we embrace madness, instead of fearfully hiding it away? It’s time to put the treat back into treatment.
Prior to this edition of Madlove Talk, James Leadbitter and Hannah Hull gave a workshop to a group of young people (between the ages of 14 and 18) of De Bascule, Academic Center for Child and Youth Psychiatry.
concept & realisation James Leadbitter & Hannah Hull designers James Christian & Benjamin Koslowski illustrations Rosemary Cunningham with thanks to FACT, Wellcome Collection (London), Southbank Centre (London), Fierce Festival (Birmingham), Nottingham Contemporary (Nottingham), NAGAS, Artsadmin (London), Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, Homo Novus (Riga), Bethlam Gallery (Beckenham), Design in Mental Health Conference and Awards, Gessnerallee (Zürich), Guild Lodge Hospital (Whittingham), Mile End Hospital (London), Core Arts (London), Broadland Clinic (Norwich), Dr Guislain Hospital (Ghent), Somerset House and King’s College (London), G39, Who Cares?/Staatstheater (Mainz), LSE Literary Festival & Royal Hospital Edinburgh with thanks to Anna Zagorska, Kirsi Väänänen, Sue Keen, Sian Baxter & Gill Lloyd with finance from Unlimited, Wellcome Trust People’s Award, Arts Council of England & British Psychological Society with support from Projects Office & Artsadmin
James Leadbitter – aka The Vacuum Cleaner – calls himself a “one-man art and activism collective”. His performances range from one-man shows to large-scale public actions and playful interventions in the public space. In recent years, he has created work for Tate Modern, Wellcome Collection, Nottingham Contemporary, BBC4, Channel 4 and Arte, among others.
Hannah Hull makes politically charged social interventions aimed at social change and empowering the individual. She usually focuses on socially disadvantaged groups such as former addicts, people with a criminal record and the homeless. Her work forms the basis for her doctoral research at the Institute of Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at the University of London.