How 'normal' do you think you are?

You are standing in a London gallery looking at a striking portrait by a well-known artist. You are alone save for a man in a brown coat on the other side of the room. He’s leaning in to read the caption on another artwork, his hands clasped behind his back clutching the exhibition guide.

‘That man doesn’t like you.’ Says a voice in your head. ‘Him in the brown coat. He hates you.’

Running for the first time at the beginning of 2017; Altered States Of Consciousness is a live immersive art exhibition that provided visitors with an opportunity to challenge their own perceptions of mental health and normality, allowing them to appreciate what it feels like to hear voices, see visions and have other unusual sensory experiences.

Designed to help breakdown the stigma associated with these conditions; the exhibition combined visual art, multimedia and academic research to provoke debate around what is considered part of the ‘normal’ human experience.

The exhibition, produced by Phoebe Roberts, is the result of a far-reaching collaboration between Dr Helen Fisher, Senior Lecturer & MQ Fellow in the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London; artist Rich Maskey; mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin MBE; the Voice Collective, a London-wide project that supports children and young people with unusual sensory experiences; and Debut Contemporary gallery.

The initiative came about as part of the Arts, Health & Wellbeing Programme at King’s College London that explores how the arts can enhance health and wellbeing in clinical and care settings, developing new conversations and collaborations.

After the success of this proof-of-concept installation, and a positive reaction from public, press and academics, the Altered States team are seeking funding to develop the installation and reach a wider public audience.

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