Conceived in 1999, Mental is a scientifically inspired exploration of creativity, emotion and feeling. It is a double award-winning project conceived, developed and directed by Helen Storey in collaboration with biologist Dr John McLachlan, the scientific partner and Malcolm Garrett, the interactive partner.
The five art works which explore emotions present during creativity and make up Mental, are all interactive. A visitor to Mental is invited to play with Whisper, stroke and touch First, Last Everything, write on Amygdala's pages, contemplate the Death Dresses, and create their own BZ reaction.
"People are fascinated by what makes them, and others, tick. But straightforward scientific accounts of brain function are often dry and too technical to capture people's imagination. Storey's work engages the senses and emotions - luring people into becoming intrigued with scientific areas - in this case neurology - which they might otherwise have thought too difficult or irrelevant to bother with"
– Rita Carter, Medical Journalist
"It was a sheer pleasure to work with Helen Storey on Primitive Streak, a surprising, inventive and promiscuous project in its ambition. Mental will be equally provocative and more ambitious, a project with which the ICA looks forward to being involved"
– Philip Dodd, Director, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
"Lever Faberge became involved in this project because it aims to unravel and explore the world of creativity - something that lies at the heart of our business. We constantly innovate and expect our people to drive sustained innovation, but where do these ideas come from and how are they nurtured? In interacting with Helen and Rachel Hazell on Amygdala, we have been able to directly ask ourselves these questions. The answers, for many individuals, have been surprising and they have illuminated insights into how people work best, where they need to go to be most creative and in which environment are they most creative. All this has come from working on Amygdala. She has turned into our oracle"
– Alastair Creamer, Producer, Catalyst, Lever Faberge UK
Oksnehallen, Halmtorvet 11, Copenhagen, Denmark, 5 – 30 April 2001
Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London, 7 – 20 July 2001
English Tour Supported by the Arts Council England:
Cheltenham Festival of Science - The Pleasure of Science, 22 – 26 May 2002
Exhibit: First, Last, Everything
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Central Library, Philimore Walk, Kensington, London, 2 September – 12 October 2002
King's College London, Rolls Chapel, Maughan Library, Chancery Lane, London
The Art of Dying Symposium. 21 January - 14 February 2003 www.kcl.ac.uk/depsta/humanities/art_of_dying
Exhibit: The Death Dresses
Wolverhampton Art Gallery, 5 April – 7 June 2003
Exhibits: Amygdala, Death Dresses, First, Last, Everything
Somerset House, London, 19 April – 17 May 2003 as part of 'DNA at King's: The Continuing Story'. Exhibit: Whisper,
The Glasgow Science Centre, Glasgow, July –September 2003
Exhibit: Amygdala, Death Dresses, First, Last, Everything, Whisper and BZ Reaction
Trafford Direct, Sale Waterside, Sale, Greater Manchester, 20 May – 6 August 2004
Exhibit: Amygdala in conjunction with Trafford Metropolitan Borough. www.trafford.gov.uk
Creative Lab: September 2004 – January 2005
Exhibit: Amygdala was exhibited at Churchfield School, London SE2 in conjunction with Creative Partnerships London South.
For further up to date information email
Caroline Coates at [email protected]
Mental inspired a wide range of educational initiatives, a selection are listed here.
Institute of Contemporary Art, London, July 2001
A series of talks and events were held focusing on themes within Mental such as experiences of death, what makes humans unique and how interactive games can help define individuality.
Cheltenham Festival of Science, May 2002
The first Cheltenham Festival of Science took place in 2002. With the theme of the science of pleasure, its aim was to make science accessible and exciting in new ways and to everyone. A wide and varied programme included schools events and free hands-on science interaction. www.cheltenhamfestivals.co.uk
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Library, September 2002
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Libraries and Arts Service, hosted Amygdala during her UK premiere at Kensington Central Library. Visitors were encouraged to contribute their thoughts to Amy writing in pencil. For some this involved writing poems, quotes, and occasionally innermost feelings and secrets. Others took the opportunity to create wonderful drawings.
A series of exciting workshops with Bookmaker Rachel Hazell and Poet Jackie Wills were held with groups from the community. In total 85 people from groups such as Kensington and Chelsea MIND, Punch and Judy Nursery, Al Hasinya, Pepper Pot Club and Positive Age had the opportunity to create their own books and poems, and importantly contribute to Amygdala's pages.
King's College London - Art of Dying Symposium, January 2003
The Art of Dying Symposium (October 2002 - July 2003) a series of events were held which investigated changing perspectives of death across time and cultures. www.kcl.ac/depsta/humanities/art_of_dying
Wolverhampton Art Gallery, April 2003
Rachel Hazell book artist for Amygdala hosted bookmaking workshops www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk
Me Kits, July 2004 – an ongoing project being developed in other schools.
As part of an educational and outreach programme to support Amygdala at the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, Trafford Direct at Sale "Me Kits" is a pilot project and collaboration between Moorlands Primary School and Sale Grammar. Me Kits are hand made books of personal identity created and curated by children in their last term at Primary. With contributions from parents, friends, mentors and teachers each book builds up a holistic picture of the essence of the child including communication of what their natural ways of learning are.
With a view to informing the teaching and learning process within the first year at secondary school these kits are handed on as a unique form of reference making each child feel more "known" and hopefully contributing to their general well being.
Dr John McLachlan, University of Durham
Cliff Nicholls Dean of College at Chelsea College of Art and Design: Installation design at all venues
Alan Graham, Greg Messiah and Ken Wilder at Chelsea College of Art & Design
Sandra Holtby, Head of London College of Fashion
Gitte Just: curator
Janice Miller: research assistant to Helen Storey
Dr Gill Samuels CBE
Svend Johannsen at DSA
Arts & Business / New Partners
Sciart is a consortium supported by the Arts Council of England, The British Council, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA), the Scottish Arts Council and the Wellcome Trust.
Lever Faberge Arts Catalyst programme
The London Institute
Chelsea College of Art and Design
The London College of Fashion
Medical Research Council
The Head Trust
With additional support from The Design Council, The Clore Duffield Foundation, The British Council, King's College London, AEI / Danzas, Exposure/Insure and private patronage.