Mental health and art in the public sphere

The Daily Life Project

Re-examining mental health through art at the community scale

Daily Life Ltd is an organisation led by the female artist, Bobby Baker, which aims to transform ideas concerning mental health by creating compelling art. This Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation works locally and is based in Stratford, East London. Their funding generally comes from the Arts Council England’s National Portfolio, but projects are funded by applications to a range of funding bodies, trusts and foundations.

Originally stemming from Bobby Baker’s own work the organisation seeks to support artist, performers, writers and musicians with personal experiences dealing with mental health issues by promoting their talents and insights, on a public stage. The current daily life projects explores three urban neighbourhoods of East London. With the combined digital and in person approach, they reach out to a various groups of people who have lived experiences with mental health issues for collaboration. The co-created artworks will be presented alongside participatory arts and mental health research available in an interactive website.

The previous project was The Expert View light box installation. This included using different experts with experiences of mental distress, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, doctors and support workers: experts by experience and experts by profession. It began from a  day-long drawing workshop to draw what they were an expert at, which resulted in many self-portraits. The drawings were then  presented in a public outdoor exhibition in East London.

Within public health, mental health issues are too frequently hidden behind other problems, meaning they are often unfairly forgotten. The exhibition combines a new presentation of expertise in art and mental health. It poses the question of what level of expertise does personal experience provide? who is the expert? The public display shows the sense of difficulties that are part of the journey of going through mental health issues. It creates a space for acceptance to battle fear, confusion, embarrassment, ignorance, and prejudice. The art gives space to reflect in a more neutral way.

The art appeals mental health issues as a human experience that affects people of all backgrounds and class divides.

Thus the work of Daily Life Ltd is based on the powerful potential of art in transforming our understanding of ourselves and the world around us, especially our local communities. They are in support of the innovative community organisation, Bromley by Bow Centre, and Shuffle Festival.

They are now running a kickstarter to fund their new animation project The Roxy and Rudi Roadshow Cartoon. Check it out!

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