Exhibition inspired by historic West Yorkshire asylums launches

Date: 18 May 2017

Our Mental Health Museum has launched a new exhibition exploring the historical links between nature and wellbeing, inspired by asylums in the past.

Liable to Flood is the latest addition to our unique museum at Fieldhead, Wakefield. It’s inspired by the role the outdoors played in asylums in the 19th century, and looks at how nature can have a positive influence on wellbeing. The project has been produced in partnership with artists, community groups and mental health service users.

Museum assistant Ruth Quinn at the exhibition

Extravagant decoration wasn’t often seen in asylums, but natural prints were sometimes used to promote a cheerful atmosphere.

The exhibition displays archival material alongside artwork from local artists who have all had personal experiences with mental health. The museum team chose the art from a number of submissions which they received when they asked artists to put forward work that responded to the theme of linking nature and wellbeing.

Liable to Flood is also home to plants which started life at Apple Tree Community Garden in Agbrigg and the Trust’s own Wakefield Recovery College.

Some of the plants, many of which were chosen for their links to health in the 19th century, are suspended from the ceiling in macramé hanging baskets created by service users from the Trust and Portobello craft group.

Ruth Quinn, exhibition curator, said: “In the early 19th century, asylums were reliant on nature. People didn’t know as much as we know about mental health conditions now, but they knew that green landscapes and gardens were good for people’s health. A lot of asylums were built in rural locations for this reason. Liable to Flood takes a look at how this approach from the past is still just as relevant today.”

Liable to Flood will be on display at the Mental Health Museum until September. The museum is open Wednesday – Friday from 10am – 4pm.

www.mentalhealthmuseum.co.uk