Mind of Wonk - a collaborative project by Lottie McCarthy and artists from the Bridgwater Art Group, coordinated by Mind in Somerset
10.02.2024 - 17.03.2024
Mind of Wonk is a new exhibition by Lottie McCarthy and members of the Bridgwater Art Group, run by mental health charity Mind in Somerset. Through a series of making sessions, the artists have co-created a nurturing cocoon, a re-imagined den, a pillow fort — a sanctuary during times of mental health dips.
By sharing their individual and collective experiences, the group have been exploring what people need around them to feel mentally well. They have developed a space built on pride, joy, and compassion, free of judgement and full of comfort, in a society where many environments are not conducive to this.
This project celebrates a mad pride aesthetic, created using a “Wonk” mentality. Wonk mentality is an embodiment of a disability justice/mad pride aesthetic. Using discarded materials and working without a plan in an intentionally wonky way, it is about bringing joy and reframing ‘mistakes’ and ‘imperfections’ as an integral part of the process.
Making with a Wonk mentality is an act of resistance and self-care — a catharsis to the harshness of existing in a neurotypical, ableist society. It is a call to stop denying pleasure for the sake of perfection, used by artists who are too tired to line up seams or sew straight lines.
Lottie McCarthy creates proudly mad, beautifully bonkers spaces, situations, and encounters. She aims to unearth the joy in vulnerability, otherness, and uncertainty in her mental health disability and neurodivergence. Mediums include beanbags, hungry hippos, textiles, sculpture, prints, illustration, writing and music. Lottie creates work in ways that create space for safe, dignified vulnerability which fosters kinder, more curious, and less scared states of being, using discarded materials and broken things in new ways.
Lottie’s work has been exhibited at the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, House of Annetta as part of the Whitechapel Gallery’s Nocturnal Creatures, The Bargehouse, Margate NOW festival, Candid Arts, and published by Cuckoo Publishing in partnership with the Wellcome Collection and We Are Unlimited.
About Mind in Somerset
Bridgwater Art Group is a weekly creative sanctuary led by Rachel Gundry and managed by mental health charity Mind in Somerset. The group started in 2018 and has met regularly at Bridgwater Arts Centre since then (also throughout lockdown, either by phone or through online sessions where possible). This continuity is important to members, allowing relationships develop over time. Members support each other in a safe space, where they can relax and be creative.
The opportunity to work with other artists/teachers is welcome. In this project, the group have embraced the idea of wonky resistance, taking on a more open-ended making process, which is exciting. The den celebrates the art group’s identity by being somewhere free of expectations. It’s a place to play and take refuge from the outside world. Individuals are referred to the group through mental health services, or can self-refer through the Mind in Somerset website (mindinsomerset.org.uk).
With special thanks to members of Mind in Somerset Bridgwater Art Group:
Sean Bowes, Adam Butt, John Fenna, Gillian Fisher, Emily Hankin, Wes Hinckes, Natasha Holliday, Phil Hocking, Nikita Lewis, Pauline Morris, Sheila Paddick, Tracy Pople, Ellen Addelsee, Caroline Simmons, Robert Snelling, Ian Staddon, Michael Vickers
Additional thanks to the following people for supporting the project:
Charlie Acton-Pearce, Rachel Gundry, Millie Laing-Tate, Lottie McCarthy, Greta Sharp
Image credit: Hajia Dahiru