Our Exhibition

We created an exhibition as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2023 around the theme of 'revolution'

Define. Confine. Time.

Mixed media sculpture

Patient Diagnosis: 

6A7Z - Depressive disorder unspecified



This piece provides commentary on the current state of mental health treatments, the welfare system and the experiences of those who navigate them. Within the old wooden cabinet a puppet dressed in historical clothing stands as a symbolic figure behind the glass. Imprisoned within brick walls that mirror a prison, linking past to present struggles in female healthcare. The ground beneath her feet is strewn with keys and books as a poignant representation of the ceaseless search for escape and understanding. Under her arm is a pet as the only source of comfort depicted here.


On the exterior of the cabinet, six glass jars bear labels denoting different mental health treatment options. Some jars appear aged and depleted, signifying their overuse and/or limited effectiveness.


"Psychodynamic" is marked as 'toxic' and holds black

tar-like gravel embodying the burdensome and outdated nature of a therapy that continues to scorch the therapeutic landscape.


"CBT" still contains elements of the much older ideology but mixes in fleeting grains of gold sand, symbolising some short-term benefits akin to building a house on shifting sands.


"Mindfulness" draws from CBT and so some sand is present but strands of straw for warmth and comfort have been introduced, marred by a dark thread to signify its tendency to place the onus of societal or workplace issues on individuals.


"Medication" is demonstrated by feathers as it can lighten the load for some, making their difficulties more bearable or manageable.


"Peer support" is filled with seeds, highlighting the nurturing and growth that come from natural human connections.


"EMDR" appears as a mysterious elixir, effective yet elusive; it is marked 'use with caution' due to its potential to exacerbate symptoms when not administered correctly by mental health professionals.


At the base of the cabinet is a swinging pendulum, symbolising the relentless passage of time and adorned with an eye to signal a life under scrutiny of by DWP, mental health services and society for not being able to escape the prison.


This piece stands as a testament to the complex and often fraught journey of those seeking mental health care whilst having to rely on the welfare state for survival. It confronts the limitations of traditional therapies while advocating for a more holistic and compassionate approach to mental well-being, along with the ticking of time under the watchful eye as an empathy inducing glimpse into those who must live their lives on pause.

Please note: The diagnosis used does not necessarily reflect a psychiatric diagnosis received by the artist. These were included to reflect the current practice of labelling and how these relate to lived-experience.


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