Life at Liff

Life at Liff logo

a collaborative exhibition by Dundee Rep Community Company Arts Advocacy Project, Dundee City Council Leisure & Arts Department and the University of Dundee Museum Services

5 April - 16 June 2002 McManus Galleries, Albert Square, Dundee


Ronnie Mustard, Arts Advocacy Project


A ground-breaking exhibition, Life at Liff: the mental health of Dundee, explores the often-hidden world of mental health and gives individuals with experience of mental health difficulties a showcase for their art, verse and installation works.

The exhibition was inspired by the scaling-down of the provision of mental health services at the Royal Dundee Liff Hospital site, which began in 2001. The hospital has been an integral part of Dundee for 120 years. Often shrouded by mythology and stigma, it has fulfilled a necessary role in society but one that is currently undergoing radical change. Known simply as "Liff" it has come, in the eyes of many Dundonians, to encapsulate the whole realm of mental health.

The exhibition, which is in two parts, explores issues surrounding mental health and hopes to raise public awareness by putting into context the history of mental health in Scotland, and showcasing the vibrant expressive art being produced by participants involved in Dundee Rep's Art Advocacy project.

The first part of the exhibition looks at the history of mental health in Scotland, with specific focuses on Dundee, and the founding of the Dundee Lunatic Asylum in 1812, through to the development of community nursing in the 1970s and the opening of the new Carseview acute psychiatric unit, which opened in 2001. Drawing on the collections of the University Archive and Museum Services and other specialist museum and library collections across Scotland, this part of the exhibition spans 200 years of history. It features photographs, film and documents never before displayed as well as the results of current research and interviews with staff and residents past and present.

The second part of the exhibition celebrates the work of Dundee Rep Theatre's Arts Advocacy Project, which has been working in collaboration with user-groups and Tayside Primary Care to create a programme of arts-based work, encouraging those that use the services - carers relatives and staff - to explore, express and interpret their experiences, memories and perceptions of the institution. This work has been supported by The Community Fund, Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland and NHS Tayside. The astonishing and uplifting results of this work include video, photography writing, painting, sculpture and music.

The exhibition runs from Friday 5 April 2002 to Sunday 16 June 2002 at the McManus Galleries Albert Square, Dundee. Admission is free.

An extensive programme of workshops, drama and a film season at DCA accompanies the exhibition.


Mural at Liff by Alberto Morrocco

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