As part of the programme for the Chilli Studios Heads & Tales mental health heritage project, this exhibition will showcase work celebrating the diverse and individual experiences of mental health conditions and the benefits of artistic expression. The show features over fifty invited artists alongside Heads & Tales participants and volunteers, and includes painting, sculpture, moving image, audio, and performance, as well as guest archive items from the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums collection.

Led and shaped by participants, volunteers and staff affected by mental health conditions, Heads & Tales aims to create a new archive, exploring, rebalancing and celebrating the voice of people experiencing mental health issues in North East England. Starting from the late 1800s, through to the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, and up to the present day, the project will research people’s memories and experiences to create new narratives for future generations.

“I wanted a way to communicate the pain and stress of our current welfare system, both so people can learn (and hopefully empathise) with this dehumanising process, and to provide solidarity and representation to others who have a similar lived experience.”
Bel Pye, project artist

“It’s all part of our long-term reclaiming the languages of lunacy – refusing to be silenced, rewriting narratives, laughing at top down narratives – reclaiming human rights.”
Gobscure, project artist

Set up in 2004, Chilli Studios is a charity that delivers services to those who are, or are at risk of, experiencing diagnosed mental health problems, and those who experience other forms of social exclusion within their communities. Their aim is to improve mental health through engaging people in creative activity – promoting social inclusion and interaction, developing skills and abilities, building resilience, enabling potential, and improving wellbeing.

Heads & Tales partners include Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, Attaya Projects, Disability North, North East Art Studios Partnership, ReCoCo Collective, Northumbria University MAD studies, MIND, Disability North, and Time to Change. This exhibition has been organised alongside the Creative Legacies: Heritage & Mental Health Conference on Saturday 29 June at Blackfriars Hall, New Bridge Street, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Artist talk and poetry performance night: Tuesday 9 July 6-8pm

Kathryn Watson, a medical practitioner, discusses her artistic practice and experiences of mental illness after being diagnosed with depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder, in the works entitled My illustrated mind. This event will be followed by a poetry and performance night with BORN LIPPY. Organised and supported by Nicky Mills and Chilli Studios.