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St Audry’s Project- ‘Dr Kirkman Invites…’

It’s not every day you hear from someone who died 127 years ago…but we thought people interested in the history of mental health care might respond to an invitation from the longest serving Superintendant of Suffolk’s county asylum…

Which is why the final event for our Comic Relief project Telling It Like It Is (inspired by collections from what became the St Audry’s psychiatric Hospital) will revisit the pioneering ideas of Dr John Kirkman, and speculate on what he might have made of all that has followed.

On Friday we’re holding a final day of reflection and conversation at Abbot’s Hall, reporting back on the project and asking questions about the role museums and art can play in portraying mental illness, confronting stigma and promoting well-being.

Many of the people who have contributed to the two-year project have their own experiences of mental ill-health. So as well as looking at the past, we’ll be looking at the present  and explaining the artwork and audio visual interpretation we have added to the St Audry display, which seeks to capture issues about the language and labels that still surround mental ill-health today.

Among those taking part, we are excited to be welcoming guests from the Bethlem Gallery and Royal Hospital Museum and Archives –  arguably once the most famous Asylum of them all. There will also be people from the Museum of East Anglian Life, Suffolk User Forum and community arts.  Hosting the day will be well-known local writer and broadcaster Rachel Sloane.

Will we get any fresh answers?  Or end up any the wiser about what Dr Kirkman would make of it all? We’ll be tweeting and blogging so even if you can’t be there, you can still follow and find out….

For further background visit www.staudrysproject.wordpress.com

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