Have you ever considered that archival documents may only tell part of the story? Or only tell a story from the perspective of those in positions of power? There's a project beginning in Newcastle this month that will challenge the views of mental health and well-being voiced by those in the medical and counselling professions, both now and in the past.
Heads & Tales is a two-year project to create a new heritage archive for the North East that will explore the experiences of adults experiencing mental health conditions, thereby ensuring that their voices are heard. Two artists, Lalya Gaye and Nelli Stavropoulou, will be running workshops in which they will encourage participants to respond creatively to archives in the North East that relate to the history of provision for those affected by mental distress from the 1800s onwards. Those invited to join will include patients, volunteers and staff. The sessions will be shaped by the participants' own ideas, and may include sculpture, collage, installations, drawings, digital art, song or poetry. As well as this reflective work, they also aim to create new material for the archives that encompasses a greater diversity of perspectives. This will focus on the memories and experiences of an underrepresented group, namely those suffering from mental illness.
Have you considered what other voices might be missing from official records? Here in the Archives we're aware that the student voice is often missing - though we do have some recordings of interviews of people studying at the School of Art in the mid-twentieth century.