Obsession at the Asylum

Obsession at the Asylum brings together research of the West Ridings Pauper Lunatic Asylum and another repetitive installation performance. Aiming to intrigue and educate the local audience of Wakefield history, the research consists of a condensed overview of the West Ridings Pauper Lunatic Asylum, also later known as Stanley Royd Hospital, which was one of the first mental health institutions to offer “moral care” for the “insane poor” in the 1800s.

Using a penny farthing coin to emphasise the little money owned by paupers during the opening years of the asylum, over 23 thousand circles were traced to highlight the obsessional traits latent in insanity.

The voyeuristic gaze often imposed onto those with mental health issues was also consequently overturned by inviting the audience to continue the installation using their own copper coins to draw around, therefore bringing the socially engaged performance into the present day.

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All photography credits go to the amazing Bob Clayden.