The Art House presents new work by artist Sean Burn, developed in partnership with Mental Health Museum, Wakefield



nudging meteors, gobscure
27 September – 10 November 2017

The Art House presents new, ground-breaking work by artist, writer and performer Sean Burn, now working under the name gobscure.  With an international reputation and active involvement in disability arts, gobscure’s work challenges institutional narratives of psychiatry, encouraging debate about how we talk with each other about mental health and mental distress.

Selected to take part in The Art House Change Makers residency programme, running throughout 2017, gobscure has been making work in response to the new manifesto at the Mental Health Museum, Fieldhead Hospital, which aims to ‘to explore mental health histories to help forge a sustainable future where people can live fulfilling lives in their communities’. An exhibition of work produced during his residency, from April to September this year, will open with a specially commissioned performance as part of Wakefield Artwalk on 27 September 2017.

The residency was launched in April 2017 with a performance of gobscure’s live art work, with added nuts, followed by a day-long collaborative workshop with artists and writers who have lived experience of mental distress. Visits to Merchant Gate, the site of the former West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum (now luxury housing) and the Mental Health Museum were accompanied by gobscure’s own site-responsive performances. Participating artists were invited to develop new ideas throughout the day, with the opportunity to show the resulting work as part of gobscure’s forthcoming exhibition, nudging meteors, at The Art House in September.

From his research into objects at the Mental Health Museum and buildings at the former Stanley Royd Hospital, gobscure is developing work that explores the architectural structures used to contain patients within psychiatric institutions. In his new film, acheologies, gobscure responds to a 1930s padded cell on display at the Mental Health Museum, one of only a few padded cells that remain intact in the UK today. Exploring tensions between protection, oppression and freedom in historical and contemporary psychiatric care. acheologies will be shown at The Art House alongside works that challenge everyday attitudes towards mental distress and the systems of surveillance and control that surround us.

Quote from Cara Sutherland, Curator, Mental Health Museum:
‘Sean has an energy in his practice that is both sensitive and exuberant. It’s a wonderful mixture that challenges art and the written word, and draws on the humour, poignancy and complexity of mental wellbeing. Collaborating with Sean on his residency has ignited further discussions at the MHM about the systems and perceptions that are at the heart of societal judgements.’

- ENDS –

Notes to Editors

nudging meteors, gobscure
Exhibition opening: Artwalk Wakefield, Wednesday 27 September, 5-9pm

For more information, interviews and images please contact:

Helen Deevy  

01924 312000

gobscure is a self-taught artist, writer and performer, actively involved in disability arts and the North-East Mad Studies Collective. He was Jessie Kesson 2016 Literary Fellow at Moniak Mhor, near Inverness, where he made an extensive body of work based on the parallels between his experiences of psychiatric treatment at the Royal Cornhill Hospital and those of writer Jessie Kesson in the same institution decades earlier. He has performed his work with added nuts at venues across the UK, his third volume of poetry, is that a bruise or a tattoo?, was published by Shearsman Press in 2013, and his short film, Ur's for Kurt (Schwitters), was screened at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London in May 2016 as a finalist in the 100 Years of Dada film competition.

Arts Council England Change Makers Fund
The Art House bid successfully for Arts Council England’s Change Makers Funding that is enabling creative practitioner Hannah Mason to join the senior management team as Change Maker Associate until December 2017. She will develop two solo residencies and curate their associated exhibitions.

The aim of the fund is to increase the diversity of senior leadership in art and culture by helping to develop a cohort of leaders who are Black, minority ethnic and/or disabled by means of a targeted senior leadership training and development programme. An additional aim of the fund is to provide host National portfolio organisations with a development opportunity to adopt cultural change that can be a catalyst for improving their contribution to the Creative Case for Diversity.

About The Art House 
Opening times:
Monday to Friday 9 – 5pm

The Art House is a visual arts development agency and a registered charity (number 1063671) established in 1994 by a group of artists in response to the lack of facilities for disabled visual artists. The Art House now provides studios and programmes offering time, space and support for artists and associates to develop their creative and critical practice and professional careers. 

Alongside an accessible programme of events, training and mentoring, residencies and commissions, The Art House develops collaborative platforms promoting equality and diversity, driving new research and contributing to an essential discourse around the Creative Case for Diversity in contemporary visual arts practice.

The Art House is an NPO (National Portfolio Organisation) with Arts Council England.

To find out more about The Art House please contact Helen Deevy, Admin and Communications Officer on 01924 312000, email

About Mental Health Museum, Wakefield
The Mental Health Museum is a unique museum in the heart of the Fieldhead site in Wakefield. It is run by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

The museum houses a remarkable collection of mental health related objects that span the history of mental health care from the early 19th century through to the present day.