A drop in the ocean: Artist Taxi Driver

‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ interrogates the original ideal that the asylum represented – a place of refuge, sanctuary and care – and asks whether and how it could be reclaimed. This blog series intends to showcase as many different voices and perspectives from people with lived experience of mental ill health and explore their ideas of personal asylum.

This post is from the Artist Taxi Driver, an artist and social protestor who showed work in Bethlem Gallery’s ‘Reclaiming Asylum’ exhibition.

The Artist Taxi Driver is the persona of artist and prominent political and social protestor Mark McGowan, whose YouTube channel “chunkymark” has attracted over 50,000 subscribers. In his videos, McGowan films himself and occasional invited interviewees in his taxi discussing political and social issues. Past interviewees have included Frankie Boyle, John McDonnell, Mhairi Black, Noam Chomsky, Caroline Lucas, Charlotte Church, David Graeber and Russell Brand. Continue reading

Stop-frame animation at Wellcome Collection

Saturday Studio is our series of drop-in activities inspired by Wellcome Collection. They are for people aged 14–19 and led by experts from a variety of creative fields; participants can try out new skills and meet new people. Our latest session explored Wellcome Collection using stop-motion animation techniques. Dan Brown from Mash Cinema tells us what inspired this session, how he came up with the format and how it went.

When I was asked by Wellcome Collection’s Youth Programmes team to use stop-frame animation techniques to explore the themes of their current exhibitions, as well as using the collection itself, one exhibition jumped out at me.


I couldn’t help but draw inspiration from their current States of Mind exhibition; after visiting it my mind was buzzing with ideas. Goshka Macuga’s “Somnambulist”, lying peacefully in the gallery, was especially intriguing as, having seen the film that influenced the piece (“The Cabinet of Dr Calagari”), I knew the maniacal mind behind its eyes. Continue reading

Creating RawMinds

Wellcome Collection’s Youth Programme aims to engage young people aged 14-19 through participatory projects that build knowledge, inspire creativity and promote confidence. Videographer Stephen Rudder, communications freelancer Josephine Finn and our Youth Programme team recently worked with a group of 17 teenagers to develop a new brand and trailer for our youth engagement projects. Here, Josephine talks about creating RawMinds.

The remit of the group was threefold: to identify a new name to replace Wellcome Collection’s “Young Creators” project; develop a creative identity; and produce a trailer to encourage 14-19 year olds from across London to join. I was enormously inspired by the group’s range of talents, their wealth of ideas and sense of community. The group felt utterly inclusive and effortlessly sociable. Every single member of the group contributed to this project.

The RawMinds group.

The RawMinds group.

Continue reading

Elements: oxygen

In advance of the upcoming Elements event at Wellcome Collection I spent an hour filming the brilliant Dr Andrea Sella (one of the event’s curators) as he gave me a tour of some of the elements in question. I’ll be sharing these on the blog over the next week or so, but you can also see all of them on our YouTube channel. It was a fun shoot, following him as he demonstrated experiments and bits of lab kit. There was a small fiery explosion, liquid nitrogen, clouds of purple iodine and more. I also get an inadvertent cameo role as he naughtily wore reflective glasses for the oxygen section, which I spotted too late.

In this first one, he shows us how oxygen will be turned from a gas into a liquid for use at the event (which has to happen behind the scenes on the night for health and safety reasons), and reveals its unusual colour. I had NO idea that this was what oxygen looked like.

Elements presents a world of immersive chemical performance, ingestion, activity and intrigue across all four floors of Wellcome Collection on Friday 8 April, 19.00–23.00.

Seeing Myself See: Filming the event

It’s always a pleasure to cover an event with such a strong visual element; it makes the job of the filmmaker so much easier. Seeing Myself See had bright lights and bees, beautiful wooden instruments and crystallised bee flights – which not only looked great on camera, but were also clearly fascinating to the audience on the day. It was also very noisy, in the best possible way, so slightly less of a joy to edit it all together, but still fun.

The event was a very playful occasion that encouraged interaction as well as introspection, the idea being that people become more aware of the way in which they “see” the world. There was a particular focus on “sensory substitution”, replacing one sense with another. With the Seeing Instruments the colours of the user’s clothes were translated into music, whereas in the Mind Chair shapes are turned into touch.

My personal highlight, though, was the Bee Matrix. Whilst it definitely gave an insight into bee behaviour, what struck me most was the way in which it was developed in collaboration with primary school children and yet was producing genuinely novel scientific data – a potentially very interesting model for science education. It was also a success in keeping the bees contained, though I’m informed our thorough Events team had already appointed a “bee catcher” in the event of an escape when the box was opened to restock the “flowers”. Apparently they do stop flying in the dark so the lights are switched off during this process, but you can never bee too careful. (Sorry).

Watch the video to find out more, and don’t forget there are more on our YouTube channel. Subscribe to our channel to keep up to date with new films.

Pressure Drop: Underneath the Arches

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In the second of our two clips from the Pressure Drop rehearsals, Nana (played by June Watson) and Ron (Pip Donaghy) share a musical moment in the church.

Pressure Drop: Reunited at the Brit

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In this first of two clips from the Pressure Drop rehearsals, John (played by Justin Salinger) is reunited with his brother Jack (Michael Gould) and old friend Tony (David Kennedy) at the Brit pub, as they reminisce about the old days.