Never Better

2019janNever Better

Never Better

Event Details

In 2019, we delivered a £90,000 Wellcome Trust and Heritage Lottery funded project, Never Better, working with Strike a Light, Gloucestershire Archives, Gloucester History Festival and Gloucestershire Counselling Service. Coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the NHS, Never Better was a creative response to historic and contemporary sources exploring and reflecting on the experience of mental ill health. The project had an ambitious aim to develop the capacity of local artists and organisations, focusing on mental health, local history and on connecting with some of Gloucestershire’s more vulnerable citizens.

Gloucestershire Archives has one of the most comprehensive collections of both clinical and administrative records from 1823 until the last of the County Asylums in Gloucester (Coney Hill Hospital) closed in 1994. The Gloucestershire Archives holds an almost complete collection of records outlining treatments, case notes, patient histories, epidemiology, admissions and discharges for well over 170 years. Alongside exploration of this invaluable resource, the project team collected individual stories from community members who had suffered with mental ill health. This material was taken by writer and director Finn Beams who worked with Strike a Light to produce a sensitive installation and performance piece highlighting the issues and treatment of mental health. The performance was beautiful and used a mix of professional and volunteer actors to produce a piece of work that brought history to life for a whole new audience.

The project was complex involving detailed archival research of patient and treatment records as well as working with residents who were prepared to tell their stories of living with mental health challenges and then bringing all of this together into an immersive theatre performance at Blackfriars. The performance embraced a community choir as well as professional actors, dancers, composer and musicians. The handwritten medical notes of the patients from the asylums were also on display in the marbled, leather bound books of the day.

Image Credit – Barney Witts @ Fluxx Films


Month Long Event (january)

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