Great Exhibition Road Festival to launch virtual exhibition on World Mental Health Day


Launching on World Mental Health Day on 10 October, the Great Exhibition Road Festival, led by Imperial College London, in collaboration with Kensington + Chelsea Art Week (KCAW) are opening a virtual exhibition, Fantasies of Exhibition Road.

This project is part of a new year-round programme of online events for all ages. Celebrating science and the arts, each month Great Exhibition Road Festival visitors will be able to enjoy free online talks, workshops and more, leading up to the Great Exhibition Road Festival weekend on 3-4 July 2021.

Fantasies of Exhibition Road will see a diverse collection of artists create digital fantasies of iconic places on Exhibition Road in Albertopolis, where the Great Exhibition Road Festival takes place. Taking views of Exhibition Road and its institutions, artists were invited to re-imagine the possibilities of our cultural quarter through digital fantasies created during social distancing. Their fantasies have been inspired by conversations with Imperial’s scientists on mental health and wellbeing.

The range of artists and scientists coming together for this project is very exciting. The artists and artist studios taking part are Ian Davenport, Remi Rough, Squid Soup, Space Popular, Sadie Clayton, Can Büyükberber, and recent Royal College of Art (RCA) graduate Ping Mu. Each artist or collective works in very different media including copper, traditional painting, animation, complex computer programmed installations and augmented reality.

KCAW Founder and Director Vestalia Chilton comments, “The very concept of Albertopolis is explored in this project where science, art and technology come together. The artists explore our very human ability to dream – perhaps those dreams may come true one day.”

Participating artists have created their fantasies by taking inspiration from conversations with Imperial researchers who are exploring and conducting research into mental health themes of mutual interest. The researchers who took part in this discussion were:

Emma Lawrance – who is looking into the impact on mental health in the UK of digital charity Mental Health Innovations ‘Shout,’ tool a 24/7 digital crisis text line service supporting people in crisis.

Lindsay Dewa – who is working on a Wellcome funded project on the importance of quality social connection for youth mental health, with particular interest in how this is facilitated in digital spaces.

Martina Di Simplicio – who focuses on mood instability, one of the first manifestations of distress in young people and looks at how digital tools can be used to address mood instability and promote emotional well-being.

Rachel Rodrigues – who investigates self-harm in young people, with a particular focus on understanding the neuropsychological processes that motivate and maintain the behaviour and how this might inform future interventions

Laila Ait Bihi Ouali – who measures how the characteristics and design of the built environment and transport systems can cause or alleviate feelings of fear, increase or decrease travellers’ satisfaction and wellbeing.

Rafael Calvo – who focuses on the design of systems that support wellbeing in areas of mental health, medicine and education, and on the ethical challenges raised by new technologies

Dasha Nicholls – who is working to improve understanding and interventions for children and young people with feeding and eating disorders and obesity.