September 13, 2013 by Jen
What better place to hold a Day of the Mind than a former mental hospital?
The abandoned St Clements Hospital in Mile End provided an atmospheric backdrop to director Danny Boyle’s Shuffle film festival, where Guerilla Science’s Memory Clinic and Sonic Tour of the Brain featured in a dedicated Day of the Mind. This family fete day focused on the brain, connecting visitors to the site’s former life as a Victorian workhouse-come NHS psychiatric hospital, which closed in 2005.
Guerilla Science paired up with talented artist Evy Jokhova of Broqwiem to redesign and rebuild the Memory Clinic, which took shape over a number of slightly creepy nights on the sprawling, empty site, part of which formed the backdrop for Danny Boyle’s zombie flick 28 Days Later (2002).
Made in a way that paralleled areas of the brain that are involved in memory, the clinic provided a maze-like experience for those who entered it. Memory archivists solicited different types of memory donations from passers-by, which filled test tubes that were then implanted into the region of the maze representing the hippocampus. Visitors retrieved memories by wandering into the maze and extracting donated memories from the tubes.
We collected around 500 memories from people, including some who had been previously been live-in patients at the hospital. Watch this space for insights into what kinds of memories they were!
Massive thanks to Grace Boyle, Ryan Smyth, Mark, Tom Wood, Rose Walker and Ben Kearns for helping with the build, and to Chris, Jess, Kate, Saleem and the rest of the Shuffle Festival team.