Exhibition: Our Future Likes

Throughout August I have been working with Bethlem Gallery and the Bethlem Hospital Adolescent Unit. Working with the young people on the ward I have been facilitating creative workshops helping the young people to tell their stories through photography. On the ward young people only have access to their phones and online usage for two hours a week. In this project we encouraged them to think about how to tell their story without the need for it to go somewhere, but by slowing down and considering images that tell us something about themselves.

A selection of the young people will be sharing images made throughout the project, alongside some of my own images and reflections made about my own experiences of being in hospital as a teenager.

Our Future Likes
12th September – 16th November

Bethlem Gallery
Open 10am – 5pm, Wednesday – Friday and the first and last Saturdays of the month

Our Future Likes explores the complexities of the lives we live on and off line and ways it can be damaging to our mental health. The exhibition reveals how some artists and young people in our society are taking the lead, creating art that explores how we can make the internet a more positive and contemplative space. And also, how we can begin to take charge of our futures within it.

Photography, graphics, sculpture, writing and more by artists, young people from Bethlem Adolescent Unit at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and young people from across South London. Contributors: Alexandra Leigh, Art Assassins (South London Gallery’s young people’s group) with Lloyd Corporation, Daniel Regan and young people from Bethlem Adolescent Unit, Dolly Sen, Gabrielle de la Puente (White Pube), Jack Burrus-Coomber, Katherine Melmoth and Charlotte Hooley, Love People Support Bethlem  (a collective of students from Langley Park School for Boys), Lisa Biles, Max Reeves and young people from the Raw Sounds project at Raw Material.

Some young people at the Bethlem Adolescent Unit describe their weekly two-hours of internet time as time to “cry and [socially] die”, where scrolling through curated presentations of other people’s ‘perfect lives’ on Instagram, leaves them feeling low, isolated and excluded.

Psychologist Naz Wagle at the hospital, describes the quandary being faced: “at a time of massive losses and fracturing in life, could there be some advantage in maintaining these new forms of connection; might engagement with social media act as a pressure release, a way to seek validation, or to sublimate difficult stuff into another way of expressing, what we have for millennia through a myriad of art forms, whether that’s a 280 character tweet or a picture on Instagram?”.

The exhibition theme has been developed with young people and staff at the Bethlem Adolescent Unit at Bethlem Royal Hospital.