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Art and science join forces to tackle the stigma of schizophrenia


Artists and scientists are working together at Newcastle University to dispel misconceptions about schizophrenia.

A series of exhibitions, talks, screenings and readings has been organised to challenge perceptions and increase understanding of the illness.

The events have been arranged around the “Reassembling the Self” art exhibition, currently taking place at the Hatton Gallery. It is the culmination of a collaborative project between the internationally renowned artist Susan Aldworth, academic and clinical staff from the University’s Institute of Neuroscience.

The exhibition, which runs until 24th November, includes a series of prints by Susan and a 12 foot neon angel by artist Sarah Blood.

“The main point of the exhibition is to examine and explore schizophrenia,” said Susan. “We are trying to give the public insights into the causes of schizophrenia and what it feels like to have it and to help them understand that it is not as clear-cut as many people think. Schizophrenia is like a spectrum across the population, with many people having degrees of symptoms in one form or another.”

Julie Milne, Curator of the Hatton Gallery said: “Reassembling the Self is a fascinating exhibition and we are delighted that we are able to show this work at the Hatton Gallery. It has been extremely well received so far and I hope that visitors will enjoy the range of works on display and that it will deepen there understanding of schizophrenia and the different ways in which it can affect people.”

Supporting the exhibition will be a series of events around the theme of schizophrenia. Louise Gillet will give a talk about “Surviving Schizophrenia”. When Louise was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 25 she was told she would never recover and that she would require anti-psychotic medication for the rest of her life. She now leads a happy and successful life without medication. Her talk will take place at 3pm on Wednesday, 3 October, in Room 163, Ridley Building 2, Newcastle University. The talk is free to attend but booking is required. Book a place.

Later that day, award-winning journalist war correspondent Patrick Cockburn and his son Henry will read from Henry’s Demons. The book charts how Henry was diagnosed with schizophrenia and how they coped and dealt with his illness.

The reading will take place at 5.30pm, in the Curtis Auditorium, Herschel Building. It is free but booking is required.  Reserve a place.

Between 11.30am and 3.30pm on  Saturday 6th October, there will be drawing activities for children and adults at the Hatton Gallery. Join in with the huge drawing on the themes of angels, eyes and minds and add to the communal mind map. Admission is free.

The theme of this year’s Newcastle Philosophy Festival is  “the self”. Running from Saturday 6th – 12th October, events will take place across the city. Find out more.

Oscar winner Robert Downey Junior stars in The Soloist, a film which tells the true life story of musician Nathaniel Ayers, who developed schizophrenia and became homeless. It will be screened at the Tyneside Cinema at 5.45pm on Monday 8th October.?

Following the film, the audience will be invited to ask questions from a panel of guest speakers including Dr Peter Byrne, Consultant Psychiatrist at Newham University Hospital and Associate Registrar at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Tickets for this event are free but booking is necessary.  Tickets can be booked by phone (0845 2179909) or in person at the Tyneside Cinema Box Office.  For more information on the Tyneside Cinema

Sarah Blood, whose neon sculpture 'Guardian in the Presence of Doubt' is featured in the Reassembling the Self exhibition, will give a talk on Tuesday, 16 October. And on Wednesday, 7 November, Susan Aldworth will also speak about her art.

Both talks are free and will take place at 6pm in the Hatton Gallery.

Full listings can be seen on the University’s events website.

Reassembling the Self is on display at the Hatton Gallery until 24th November. Free entry.

Hatton Gallery is open Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm,

Hatton Gallery is managed by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums on behalf of Newcastle University.

published on: 2 October 2012