Mentalism is the latest iteration of the goal of my Peelings: to highlight the beauty of outsiders, both people and places, that don’t meet traditional societal standards and expectations. Peeled from Sydney’s Gladesville Mental Hospital, formerly known as ‘Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum’, the site now houses a number of health facilities including Giant Steps, a specialist school for children on the autism spectrum.
Mentalism draws its name, in part, from the site’s rich history of mental health. As Sydney’s first so-called ‘Lunatic Asylum’ from the 1830s, the site witnessed misunderstanding and taboo in relation to mental illness, as ‘patients’ sent to the institution were discarded and hidden away, as a source of shame. To reference this, the series draws heavily on the colour blue and its rich artistic history in relation to mental health - not least because of Picasso’s Blue Period - but also referencing blue’s contemporary significance to the site as the colour of autism awareness.
Mentalism also draws inspiration from the psychological theory of the same name, which sees physical and psychological phenomena as explicable only through the vessel of a perceptive, interpretive (and therefore creative) mind. This idea pervades my work, as I relish the diverse narratives that audiences read into my works. In this way, audiences’ perceptions and interpretations help to create the work. In a nod to the physical, the works are named after the coordinates from which they were peeled. The process of my Peeling method is performative, in that the works are the evidence of artistic interventions in space, and the coordinates catalogue that space.
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