‘Why would you want to make a house to die in?’ asks my son as we watch a BBC News item about New York based Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard‘s current exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, which aims to investigate the dynamics of creative and collaborative relationships by creating, literally, a ‘House To Die In’.
It wasn’t the idea of building the house to die in that interested me so much about the news item (although that is a little odd to say the least), rather it was the other paintings and sculptures on display at the exhibition which Melgaard had created in partnership with a group of people who had had no formal art education and little or no connection to the art world (several of whom were in recovery, faced mental or emotional challenges, or suffered from schizophrenia). The project came about as a collaboration of the artist and this group of patients who are known as the ‘Belle Vue Survivors’. Essentially the ‘survivors’ painted over a number of Melgaard’s own paintings creating brand new pieces of artwork. They also made papier mache dolls of themselves. Melgaard and the ‘Bellevue Survivors‘ worked together for a year in his studio to create all this new artwork. The overall effect is quite amazing and disturbing too. There seems to be a lot of sadness in the art work, and a lot of anarchy and colour.
I still don’t know whether mental illness heightens a person’s creativity though, but this would be a very interesting exhibition to go to see if only we didn’t live in Shrewbsury.
BBC News website, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-19703139 [last accessed 21 October 2012]
Institute of Contemporary Arts website, http://www.ica.org.uk/?lid=33800 [last accessed 21 October 2012]