Mel Brimfield's first solo exhibition in Wales features new multi-media works that examine the powerful role mental health plays in our daily lives.
The exhibition takes its title from John Bunyan’s 1678 parable The Pilgrim’s Progress, written whilst incarcerated in Bedford Gaol for lay preaching. Within the narrative, Bunyan dreams of a devout everyman Christian, who abandons his family and the City of Destruction to journey to the Celestial City and salvation. This infamous fictional pilgrimage is adopted by Bedford-born Brimfield as a loose allegory for the collapse of mental health and fraught journey to recovery.
Scripted audio monologues and film works are staged amidst theatrical sets and props, casting visitors as both audience and performer. In the darkly comedic Ungeziefer, a hapless voiceover artist attempts to record an abridged audiobook of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, heckled by a cast of shrieking voices. Xenobath begins as a detective’s log of a surveillance operation before dissolving into a poetic monologue, a collective hallucination articulated by an oscillating swarm of voices.
The accessibility and value of creativity to the isolated is both the subject and method of STAND, produced in collaboration with composer Gwyneth Herbert. The 16-channel sculptural sound piece foregrounds organisations who provide crucial opportunities for socialising through communal activity to support wellness at a time of sweeping cuts to mental health services. A complex choral composition is the setting for an extraordinary recording of a long-term inpatient at Bethlem Hospital reciting poetry, captured by Brimfield as part of a year of research at the National Psychosis Unit, and Kings College Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.