‘Reassembling the Self’ is an exhibition on two sites, the Hatton Gallery and Vane in Newcastle upon Tyne, curated by artist Susan Aldworth. Centred in a study of the condition of schizophrenia, it weaves together art, science, psychiatry and individual histories in an extraordinary exploration of self, perception and the fragility of human identity.

Aldworth’s work, realised in a variety of media including print, film and installations, has long focussed on the relationship between the physical brain and the conscious mind. As artist in residence from 2010-12 at the Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, she took schizophrenia as her theme, building on collaborations with neuroscientists, psychiatrists and patients to produce a series of remarkable lithographs that challenge the sense of identity through their radically dislocated imagery, emotionally charged colour and mysteriously ephemeral marks. These are dramatic, powerful works in which science, philosophy, physiology and imagination locate an essential human experience in schizophrenia. They immerse us in the fundamental, Sisyphean human activity of reassembling our fragmented selves.

Aldworth’s work also stands in a provocative dialogue with other works commissioned for the exhibition. At Vane, works by Susan Aldworth, Alessandro Altavilla, Kevin Mitchinson and Camille Ormston explore, critically and playfully, the experience of auditory and other hallucination.

Alessandro Altavilla’s sound installation, The loud self (2012), explores auditory hallucinations, phenomena frequently described by people affected by schizophrenia. These hallucinations are often heard as real voices, creating a concrete inner dialogue between the self and other selves. In extreme cases this causes subjects to feel themselves in a state of paranoia or even persecution. The loud self searches for people tweeting the phrase “I heard voices” on the internet, which are then spoken aloud by a computer synthesised voice. This voice is broadcast to a transistor radio in the gallery. This work can also be heard every night during the period of the exhibition on an internet radio programme at culturelabradio.ncl.ac.uk

Kevin Mitchinson’s paintings are inspired by his internal voices and his fascination with superstition and left-handedness. Two Voices is a wry and succinct representation of the garrulous nature of his voices.

Camille Ormston’s mandalas are a meditation on the spiritual impulse. The repetitive imagery and geometric shapes are signposts to contemplation of the search for truth, beauty and goodness.

The exhibition also showcases Reassembling the Self, a documentary film about the exhibition made by Nathan Buck and Nelly Stavropoulou, postgraduate students in Media and Journalism at Newcastle University.