Magic and Hysteria

My solo exhibition in Devonport Guildhall Cells in 2019 explored the myth of hysteria and archaic therapeutic ‘remedies’ from a personal perspective. It arose from reflections on my work as an art therapist and as a parent balancing art and family life. Research included attending a Welcome Collection event exploring hysteria and medicine from a feminist perspective and the drawings and photographs of the neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot showing his patients during hypnosis-induced ‘hysterical paroxysm’. I was also interested in questioning perceptions of power relationships between the magician and the magician’s assistant, who needs to know the secrets of the magician’s tricks in order to play her role. The painting Levitation, which was used as the basis for an animation, grew out of a childhood memory of trying to levitate between two chairs but always caving in as the chairs pulled further apart.

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