About 2017-10-04T20:35:40+00:00

about gobscure’s residency and exhibition

the background

In September The Art House presented new, ground-breaking work by artist, writer and performer 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, Wakefield, 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, which tool place from April to September, opened with a specially commissioned performance as part of Artwalk Wakefield on 27 September 2017.

gobcure 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.

#Change Makers
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 is working with artists gobscure and Veronica Ryan, to support them during their 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.

“We are very grateful to gobscure for his commitment, candour and insight.”


some of the people who helped make the exhibition happen, contributed to the publication, became unreliable narrators and supported the project.

the art house

Hannah Kayi Mason
Curator and Change Maker, The Art House

Emily Riddle
Programme Assistant, The Art House

Shân Edwards
CEO and Artistic Director, The Art House


Ama Zevi
Curator and Founder, Alma Zevi Gallery

Cara Sutherland
Museum Curator, Mental Health Museum

unreliable narrators

On Tuesday 24 and 25 April 2017, artist gobscure collaborated with artists and writers with lived experience of mental distress on a workshop-based unreliable narrator tour, as part of his reclaiming the languages of lunacy residency at The Art House. The collaboration started with a performance of ‘with added nuts’ http://gobscure.wixsite.com/withaddednuts

unreliable narrators tour considered and challenged institutional narratives of mental health and the vocabularies used to tell them, through visits to Wakefield Museum, the site of the former West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum – now luxury housing – and the Mental Health Museum, Fieldhead Hospital. Developing ideas and materials throughout the day, collaborating artists had the opportunity to contribute to gobscure’s exhibition/performance, nudging meteors, at the Wakefield Artwalk.

“unreliable narrators tour means time to get playful, rewrite narratives, tell more truthful / truth-full / truthfuelled stories – & listen like never before – hear some those amazing diverse stories around us outta wakefields … answer back top-down narratives conducted over & against us”

To see the work, please download the exhibition publication

unreliable narrators
colin hambrook | aoife o’rourke | rosanne robertson
katie maria francis | pauline heath | jo cottam
anthony fisher | gobscure | emily riddle | hannah kayi mason


with thanks to

abid hussain | director of diversity | arts council england
francesca crudo | assistant curator | alma zevi
ruth quinn | museum assistant | mental health museum