Press release

Wellcome Launches Mindscapes: Addressing global mental health challenges through arts and culture

Combining diverse perspectives and expertise, the Mindscapes programme brings together culture, communities, policy and research to reflect on how we understand, address and talk about mental health.

  • Exhibitions and programming staged in six cities around the world throughout 2022, including New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Berlin, Bengaluru and Kigali
  • International artist residencies: Indu Antony, Kader Attia, Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrøm, Guadalupe Maravilla, Christine Wong Yap, Yuki Iiyama 
  • Writer in residence: Priya Basil 
  • The first global crowd-sourced film about mental health
  • A cultural research lead in each city: Avinash Kumar, Injonge Karangwa, Kukiko Nobori, Margareta von Oswald, Rebecca Jacobs, Todd Lerew

Wellcome Trust today announces the launch of Mindscapes: a major international cultural programme that aims to expand how we understand, address and talk about mental health. Through art, Mindscapes invites its partners in cities around the world to look at mental health from different perspectives.

The year-long programme will comprise artist residencies, a crowd-sourced documentary, exhibitions and community events staged in a number of cities around the world throughout 2022. These are spearheaded by an international network of cultural research leads whose work has engaged with the friction of assembling a diversity of talents and viewpoints in conversations about mental health. The summative work will be presented in partnership with major institutions including: Brooklyn Museum, New York; Gropius Bau, Berlin; Hamwe Festival, Kigali; the Library Foundation of Los Angeles/Los Angeles Public Library; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; and Museum of Art and Photography, Bengaluru. 

Mental health problems are a growing public health concern, with anxiety and depression among the leading causes of illness and disability[1], affecting millions globally each year. Around one in five (19%) people globally report having experienced anxiety or depression at some point, with the majority (62%) having their first experience before turning 30.

Danielle Olsen, Wellcome Cultural Partnerships Lead says, “Wellcome supports science to solve urgent global health challenges but science cannot do this work alone. Working closely with cultural practitioners – with artists, writers, curators, designers and film-makers - and bringing people with widely varying disciplinary and professional backgrounds together, we are interested in what we can do together that we couldn’t do alone. In this, Wellcome is uniquely positioned to join the dots and forge connections between knowledge, culture and action. By engaging with the specificities of place, language and feeling, Mindscapes illuminates the ways that science will always be profoundly local. We hope it will inspire more culturally-relevant conversations about mental health.”

Through cultural projects that draw on individual experiences as well as the importance of building shared narratives, Mindscapes opens a rich dialogue about what mental health means in different places. In its international scope, the programme uncovers themes that are both universal and incredibly specific. From urbanisation to racism, discrimination and exclusion, gender, poverty, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on us all, Mindscapes sheds light on the varying  experiences of, and community approaches to, tackling mental health challenges in different contexts. Reflections, lessons and insights from this project will support ideas around future cross-sectoral networks in mental health work, as well as realising potential policy goals. 

The six Mindscapes artists in residence have each undertaken community-based research in key cities that will inspire and inform new commissions to be presented in exhibitions at Wellcome’s international partner institutions. Resident artist in New York, Guadalupe Maravilla draws on his experience of migration, trauma and healing; while for her project in Tokyo, Yuki Iiyama documents stories of those who are dealing with domestic violence. Berlin-based Kader Attia explores how the marks of history have impacted collective memory and intergenerational trauma in the city; and in Bengaluru, Indu Antony addresses the taboo surrounding mental health in India, creating space where people can come together to care for themselves and each other. 

Mindscapes international artist-in-residence, Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrøm’s work focuses on mental health in the digital age, bringing together the voices of data workers in the artificial intelligence industry. Mindscapes artist-at-large, Christine Wong Yap, will work in multiple cities to explore the role of civic spaces – libraries, parks and community centres – in building social infrastructures that can have a positive impact on mental health. 

Wellcome also commissions its first writer-in-residence, author and political activist, Priya Basil, who will compile a new atlas of mental health. Travelling to different countries including Kenya and Rwanda throughout her residency, Priya will seek out and explore a range of diverse, international, surprising and specific perspectives and understandings of ‘mental health’, both contemporary and historic.

[1] World Health Organisation, 2021.

About the Cultural Partnerships team

The work of the Cultural Partnerships team links Wellcome’s scientific approaches to society’s health challenges by co-producing imaginative and inclusive cultural programmes, and by supporting research that draws on different types of expertise and experience. We extend Wellcome’s reach by understanding people beyond existing networks, and strengthen it through the insights of locally grounded conversations in international settings.

Highlights of the Mindscapes 2022 programme include 

Brooklyn Museum, New York, Guadalupe Maravilla: Tierra Blanca Joven, 8 April 2022 – 18 September 2022
A solo exhibition from artist Guadalupe Maravilla, commissioned as part of Mindscapes. Brooklyn-based Salvadoran Maravilla draws from his own story of migration, displacement, illness, and recovery in Guadalupe Maravilla: Tierra Blanca Joven. The exhibition addresses a collective sense of trauma growing out of a lengthy pandemic, civil unrest, and displacement through more than a dozen of new and existing works; objects from the Museum’s Maya art collection; and an adjacent Healing Room, which is designed by teen staff in the BkM Teen program. The exhibition centers the need for care and healing on the part of individuals and communities that allow them to meet the many challenges of contemporary life.

The Library Foundation of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Public Library, Something in Common, 7 May – 6 November 2022 
A major exhibition opening at Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library, that examines and celebrates the ways we find and form community through shared interests, ideas and beliefs, and what we can create or accomplish collectively that isn’t otherwise possible. The exhibition will feature newly commissioned work from Mindscapes artist, Christine Wong Yap, documenting the stories and experiences of library-based communities, from Teen Councils to a Persian poetry forum.  

Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Listen to the Sound of the Earth Turning: Our Wellbeing since the Pandemic, 29 June – 6 November 2022 
Prompted by the impacts of an invisible virus on our everyday lives, this group exhibition emphasises how artistic expression, including contemporary art, resonates now more keenly than ever. Listen to the Sound of the Earth Turning explores ways to live this new life as the pandemic persists, and the nature of “wellbeing” – the holistic health of both body and mind – from multiple perspectives found in contemporary art. Works on subjects with a connection to life and existence – nature and humans, the individual and society, the repetitious nature of daily living, family, illness, mental health, the spiritual world, life and death – will encourage us to consider what it means to “live well.” 

Gropius Bau, Berlin, On Caring, Repairing and Healing*, 16 September 2022 – 23 January 2023 
A large-scale exhibition centred on caring, repairing and healing. Featuring over 20 international artists whose work draws on Indigenous and First Nations knowledge systems, the wide-ranging exhibition poses answers to urgent concerns: the material repair of objects, the care of all bodies and the environment, and the experiences of minorities, women and Indigenous people. On Caring, Repairing and Healing is curated by Kader Attia, Brook Andrew, Natasha Ginwala, Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz and Stephanie Rosenthal with Clare Molloy in collaboration with SERAFINE1369, In House: Artist in Residence 2021 at the Gropius Bau.  
*working title

Museum of Art and Photography and multiple locations, Bengaluru
Indu Antony’s exhibition at the Museum of Art & Photography foregrounds questions around language for a year-long programme on mental health and the city. In Bengaluru, multiple identities co-exist in the form of languages and dialects which occasionally overlap. In a structure of exclusion to express emotional health, this exhibition intends to locate spaces in which spoken language takes the shape of gestures, actions and thoughts. Indu Antony’s work will be shown in three different locations, in Lingarajapuram, a suburb in Bengaluru, that is densely populated by workers; at Kanike, the artist’s studio space in Cooke Town, a middle class originally Anglo Indian suburb close to Lingarajapuram, and home to many artists and studios; and culminating in an exhibition at the Museum of Art & Photography in the centre of urban Bengaluru, opening March 2023. 

Hamwe Festival, Kigali, Rwanda, 9 - 13 November 2022
Launched by the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE), the annual Hamwe Festival unites experts from diverse creative and health-related disciplines to share cutting-edge thinking and research behind the transformative power of arts on global wellbeing. Part of Mindscapes in 2022, Hamwe Festival’s focus will be on the responsibility of those who manage, preserve, archive, and create heritage (material and immaterial) as they impact individual and collective mental health.

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Nina Sandhaus, Scott & Co, nina@scott-andco.com