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Groundbreaking exhibition explores mental health issues

September 6 2013

An exhibition capturing the work of mental health patients undergoing antidepressant treatments will be on show at Glyndŵr University.

Contemporary artists Susan Liggett (pictured right) and Karen Heald are to unveil a ground breaking collection of paintings, film stills and moving images at the Wrexham University’s Oriel Sycharch Gallery tonight (Friday).

The exhibition will run until November 4 and also feature the artwork of participants in their research project, in-between-ness: using art to capture a sense of self.

Karen, an experimental filmmaker and Honorary Research Fellow in Social Sciences at Bangor University, and Susan, a practising painter and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Glyndŵr, hope to raise awareness of mental health issues and how creativity can help sufferers of depression and memory loss to express themselves.

Susan said: “More broadly the in-between-ness research project is an innovative art/science exploration of the effect that art has on the way that people express themselves and respond to their environment whilst undergoing treatment for mental health problems.

“It is a collaboration between professional artists, clinical researchers and people suffering from depression and explores the ‘sense of self’ brought about by engagement in the creative process.”

in-between-ness also forms part of ITA13, the fifth biennial international conference on Internet Technologies and Applications, taking place at Glyndŵr University from next Tuesday until Friday (September 10-13).

The duo have contributed a paper that explores how contemporary artists collaborate and how new technologies have challenged the relationship between traditional and new media in a way that has resulted in innovative collaborative opportunities with scientists, citing the artwork on display as an example.

Initial research questions stemmed from the issues arising from their artwork, but now these questions have been recognised by the medical profession and are validated by the psychiatrists and social scientists they are collaborating with, including staff from Bangor University.

Karen said: “The aim of the study was to help us understand some of the effects of antidepressants and how people recover from depression.

“This work was set in the context of a rapidly expanding knowledge of how the brain processes emotional stimuli, how these processes are affected by depression, and how these processes change in response to treatment.

“People with depression show characteristic changes in the way they perceive the world around them, particularly the way they interpret emotional stimuli, for example interpreting facial expressions in others. To inform future directions of research in this area this innovative art/science collaboration explored experiential changes during treatment with antidepressants.”

She added: “We look forward to exhibiting our work at the Oriel Sycharch Gallery at Glyndŵr University and hope it will provoke opinion and enjoyment.”

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