Care and Control

Jordan Baseman, Jason Coburn, Smadar Dreyfus, Lyn French, Derek Jarman, Michael Lewis, Olivia Lloyd, Virginia Nimarkoh, Jane Roberts, Donald Rodney in collaboration with Graham Plumb, Kate Smith, Terry Smith, Jo Spence & Terry Dennet, Catherine Yass

Hackney Hospital Service Users: Vincent Ali, Frank Bangay, Trevor Benjamin, Wayne Campbell, Jill Gleghorn, Monica Close, Thomas Erskine, Michael Goldman, Ralph Gunn, Michael Hampton, Ola Imiere, Alan Isaacs, Michael Keyney, Carol Lewis, Brian Lundgren, Alwin Mathurin, David Matthews, Steve McCann, Senar Nehmer, Estell Panter, Roger Shannon, Janet Thomas, Daphne Thorne, Robert Thurlow, Robert Wisdom

CORE: John Budino, Maria de Brito, Catherine Collin, Rosssen Daskolov, Desmond Dunn, Karl Francis, Paul Grimmond, Beverley Lewis, Steve McCann, James McDougall, Brian Mead, Michael Moss, James Newell, Ricky Rocker, Arthur White

27 June – 5 August 1995

Rear Window, Hackney Hospital, Homerton High Street, London E9

Hackney Hospital is a 270-year old landmark. Over the last 10 years, its general services have slowly moved to a new site in Homerton Hospital. For the last 5 years the only “inhabitants” left on the site of this former Workhouse are the psychiatric “service users,” the elderly mentally ill, and the frail elderly. The majority of these services will move out this summer. When the remaining services have moved to their new accommodations at the end of the year, Hackney Hospital will become a 10 acre abandoned Victorian site in the hands of a demolition team.

Rear Window in is investigations relating to the display of art has began a carefully monitored collaboration with the soon-to-leave Hospital’s psychiatric services a year ago. The aim of this collaboration was, on the one hand, to mark the end of this local service and one the other to question the paradoxes that surround the positioning of art in a fully functioning psychiatric institution.

Care and Control is staged in three parts throughout the 20 or so spaces generously provided to Rear Window by the Hospital. The first one represents the work of service users, either on their own or in collaboration with artists, the second one shows the work of artists and the third one surveys the hospital in the form of an archive. Each part follows one and unique brief: Hackney Hospital, its history and/or its social and political dimension.

The work of service users has been made possible thanks to the Hackney Arts Initiative, an independent group of art-therapists and resident artists, who, since 1992, have been running a clinically monitored art workshop programme in the Hospital. Amongst the many challenging pieces that have been produced in the last 10 months since Rear Window presented the idea of Care and Control to the Hackney Arts Initiative, the exhibition will present the following pieces. A bird house installation built by Secure Unit Users in a fenced-in garden attached to the Hospital’s own medium secure unit; a floating model of a Hospital block conceived by Alan Isaacs and Roger Shannon; an installation by Monica Close featuring plaster casts of a month supply of the tinned drink “Nutriment”; and 5 videos pieces produced by video-artist Smadar Dreyfus and Alex Sainsbury, but scripted, filmed, and directed respectively by Estell Panter, Ralph Gunn, Vincent Ali, Frank Bangay, Mike Keaney and Robert Wisdom.

Alongside these pieces, artists have come up with a series of work questioning the hospital’s present and past status. Amongst the main pieces, twenty mattresses referring to the fable of the princess and the pea and to the idea of purity and contamination are displayed in a redecorated recently vacated ward by Donald Rodney in collaboration with Graham Plumb. In a glassed-in walkway—and through a sound piece—and on a ward transformed into a grass games pitch, Kate Smith looks at ideas of nature, health, and perfection. In an old physiotherapy ward, Michael Lewis’ complex video installation both surveys and defers the image of the viewer, exploiting and undermining our voyeuristic anxieties and our experience of authority. Jordan Baseman, Smadar Dreyfus, Lyn French, Olivia Lloyd, Virginia Nimarkoh, Jane Roberts, Terry Smith and Catherine Yass explore other avenues, leading to other routes, dead-ends and crossroads in this hospital, which once housed an average of 2,000 patients.

In the disused Hospital’s X-Ray Department, curator and artist Jason Coburn interferes with our preconceived ideas of installation/curatorial experience with Notes Towards a Possible Museum featuring works by Derek Jarman, Jo Spence, Terry Dennet, and Catherine Yass, as well as a range of potential museum displays.

CORE, which “promotes the artistic and creative abilities of people in Hackney who have experienced mental health problems,” has redefined a ward by introducing the sky and a picket-fence as the setting for the hanging of work produced in their studios in the past three years.

The third part of this ambitious project is an archive celebrating 270 years of local service on the site, which comprises of two books. The first consists of a series of interviews with service users, artists and psychiatric professionals. The second, Swelling Grounds, written by Jean-Paul Martinon is a poignant and questioning birds-eye view of the history of the workhouse, which was originally on the hospital site.

Care and Control, this yearlong project is now ready for showing. It has formally received the approval of Psychiatric Consultants, administrators, and therapists at the Hospital and of Brian Sedgemore M.P. for Hackney South. Not merely a simple exhibition relating art made by professional and non-professional artists from different social and cultural backgrounds, Rear Window’s initiative explores, using several points of departure, the various associations and reverberations evoked by a powerful and resonant site, Hackney Hospital.


Care and Control Care and Control
Care and Control

Hackney Hospital, Disused General Practice Entrance, Homerton High Street, 1995, Photo: D. Martin

Care and Control

Hackney Hospital, A & B Blocks, Hackney, 1995, Photo: D. Singleton