Daily Life Ltd and Bobby Baker Present THE EXPERT VIEW Micro-festival
Society loves an expert and with poor mental health affecting 25% of the population during their lifetime it is clear that specialist knowledge, understanding and 'expert' care are needed. But who really has that expertise - health professionals or those who have experienced mental health issues? And can art play a part in bringing new perspective on all of this?
In May, East London will host The Expert View micro-festival, a two-day extravaganza of entertaining cabaret, thought-provoking performances, visual art and a specialist symposium - exploring 'expertise' in arts and mental health. It is organised by Daily Life Ltd, a Stratford based charity led by well-known artist Bobby Baker, whose mission is to create powerful art that changes the way people think about mental health. Bobby, an 'Expert by Experience' of the mental health system, will host and compere the festival and revisit one of her classic performances. The line up also includes Irish singer-songwriter Dylan Tighe, Yorkshire artist Selina Thompson, activist Jacqui Dillon and others, all who have experienced mental health issues. The Expert View takes place from Thursday 7th to Friday 8th May at the Bromley by Bow Centre, Kingsley Hall and Queen Mary University in East London.
The festival opens on Thursday 7th May at Queen Mary University with Dr. Bobby (aka Bobby Baker) introducing a double bill of live art. This Room by Laura Jane Dean is an intimate, raw and moving show that uses Laura Jane's experience of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and her treatment for it, to challenge concepts of being ill and being well. The exuberant Selina Thompson invites you enter the confessional in her 'church' to seek absolution for your food sins. This new version of Stilton Mash, a piece previously performed on a one-to-one basis, is a personal, frank and uplifting show from the Leeds-based performer.
On Friday 8th May The Expert View Symposium at the iconic Bromley by Bow Centre, led by Dr. Bobby and the team at Daily Life Ltd, will be an entertaining, inspiring and fun day of discussion, debate and performance, relevant to anyone with an interest in understanding the relationship between arts and mental health. Artists, leading academics, activists and practitioners working at the cutting edge of arts and mental health practice will delve into the notion of expertise within the arts and health sector and the value of lived experience. These include Dr. Caoimhe McAvinchey, Senior Lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at Queen Mary University, the award-winning charity Outside In and Jacqui Dillon of the Hearing Voices Network. Artists Simon Raven, Dolly Sen and others, will be actively 'making art' throughout the day and joining in the discussion and debate. Students, academics, artists, administrators and nosey people are especially welcome.
The festival draws to a close on Friday evening with a relaxed cabaret evening at Kingsley Hall. This is compered by the unlikely but brilliant double act of Bobby Baker and Dublin based singer/songwriter Dylan Tighe and includes contributions from guests including the Friends of East End Loonies. There is a rare opportunity to see Bobby Baker's show Ballistic Buns; an extraordinary entertainment based on her own family history, family survival techniques, the impact of war and frustrated ambition. It also takes in the impact of all this on future generations, the Dambusters theme and bouncing buns! Ireland's Dylan Tighe, described as 'An exquisite songwriter' by the Sunday Times, released his debut album in 2014 to great critical acclaim and will be performing a selection of his emotional and soul searchingly beautiful songs.
Bobby Baker spent 11 years battling severe mental illness whilst creating international acclaimed shows such as How To Live and Box Story. Having first hand experience of poor mental health Bobby considers herself to be an 'Expert by Experience', as are all the performers, speakers and contributors to The Expert View.
'You leave feeling better than you came in, aware as you walk down the road whistling that what Baker is offering is not a show but a priceless gift wrapped in a theatrical box of tricks'.
Lyn Gardner, The Guardian on Bobby Baker
Daily Life Ltd believes in the radical potential of art to transform our understanding of ourselves and our relationship to the world around us. It creates powerful art that changes the way people think about mental health. By putting the art first, the ways in which artists with experiences of mental health issues are traditionally perceived are challenged. They are neither the lunatic genius nor the gifted outsider, but ordinary people who have or had an illness from which they can go on to gain insights that can shine out and help us all.