Tales of the Surreal - Stories From the Oral History Collection


Jo Darbyshire

30 November 2019 - 19 January 2020

Opening Night 29 November 6-8pm


Surrealism was a worldwide phenomenon when Heathcote opened in 1929 and I’ve always been interested in the connection between Surrealism and concepts of madness. When asked to make new work about the Heathcote Mental Health Reception Centre I took the opportunity to explore some of the strategies used by the Surrealists: collective ventures, poetry and the use of found objects in artworks.


As I read stories from past staff and patients, and listened to Oral Histories that have been collected - I allowed the ones that resonated to come forward. These stories had something of the surreal about them, a startling relationship with a material (feathers, hair, bone), the erotic, or the unconscious. They suddenly made me identify with the patient or the staff member- to be in their body, to inhabit madness, and to work in a place that both contained and maintained madness.


With thanks to Kaylene Poon, the City of Melville History Centre staff and the many participants who contributed to this project.

For more information on Tilt or to look back through past Tilt exhibitions click here.

Image credit: The Nurse sat with me silently, 2019, material,  found mannequin, horse hair. Photo taken by Eva Fernandez.