Our Volunteers Pick Their Favourite Archive Items

admin/ March 4, 2020/ Uncategorized

The entire Heads and Tales project was shaped and led by participants, volunteers and staff who were directly and indirectly affected by mental health issues. Here, some of our volunteers have kindly shared an item from the archive that spoke to them.

Discover Our Favourite Items From The Archive

Zam Kadaz, an Art Room Comic, Les Roadhouse

Search “Zam” in the archive to explore this comic.

Zam Comic Mental Health Heritage Archive

Ruth selected this comic as a personal favourite. She says: “I love this publication which features cartoons made by some studio members from the Art Room at St Nicholas hospital. I love the comic style –  they’re all so funny and well-drawn”.

The comic features work by Les Roadhouse who passed away a few years ago and was a valued and regular member of Chilli Studios. He will always be remembered for his comical and thoughtfully engaging artworks, his amazing tales of traveling the world, daily Budhist readings and his worn out leather jacket. 

This is how I feel, Bel Pye

Search “Bel Pye” in the archive to explore this piece.

Bel Pye Mental Health Heritage Archive

This piece explores ways of relating to a disabled or chronically ill identity whilst suffering the effects of the current disability welfare system. 

Jo at Chilli Studios selected this piece: “Bel’s work is delicately beautiful and intricate but hits the heart hard. This is such a direct way of communicating the pain and anguish of an unjust welfare system.”

Bensham Asylum, patient’s poster

Search “Bensham” in the archive to explore this piece.

Bensham Poster Mental Health Heritage Archive

This proclamation by ‘George Elliot Emperor of the World’ is an artwork by a patient at Bensham Asylum and is part of the Tyne & Wear Archives. 

This item was chosen by Marco, who says of the piece:

“Such an amazing and interesting piece of art, it’s raised many questions in our group: is George Elliot the artist or, more likely, an artist with a satirical mind illustrating a well known character of the North East in the late 1800s? 

“However, George Elliot was also the pen name chosen by Mary Ann Evans, a Victorian writer who adopted a male pen name so that her works were taken seriously, in response to an 1856 essay she wrote for the Westminster Review, ‘Silly Novels by Lady Novelists’. We want to find out more before making any accreditation, but many similarities caught our attention.” 

Quarterly list of lunatic paupers in Newcastle and Northumberland not in an asylum or hospital

Search “Quarterly” in the archive to get a closer look at this item.

Quarterly List Mental Health Heritage Archive

Another Tyne & Wear Archives item selected by our volunteer, Ruth.

“This item highlights for me how interesting our use of language around mental health is. The now derogatory terms ‘lunatic’ and ‘idiotic’ were used in a legal and medical context back in 1858.

“Today the language used in mental health is always shifting and it’s interesting to think about how the language we use now is perceived and how the meanings will change in years to come.”

Thanks to the team here at the Heads and Tales project who shared some of their personal highlights from the mental health heritage archive. Explore these items and hundreds more today – and find your favourites.