This exhibition has been organised in collaboration with Art & Soul, an organisation which promotes metal and emotional well-being through the arts.
In 1985 Aidan Shingler commenced work on Beyond Reason. This unique exploration of the experiences of schizophrenia uses words and images, and takes the form of sculptures and assemblages. Beyond Reason has toured the length and breadth of the country, including Durham Cathedral. This is, however, the first time that this body of work has been exhibited in the London area, and the first time that many people will have the opportunity to see Beyond Reason in its entirety.
“At the age of nineteen I worked as a chef at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, South London. It was whilst working there that I experienced a dramatic shift in consciousness which changed the way in which I apprehended reality. I remember clearly the specific point this shift took place. I was sitting in the staff room with my colleagues, reading The Daily Mirror. I stood up and announced. “It is all wrong.” “What is all wrong?”, the head chef enquired. I responded: “The world!”
Each of the works (30 in total) was produced as a result of Aidan’s relationship with schizophrenia. Over the years, Aidan has become an ambassador for schizophrenia; he emphasises its spiritual and creative potential and counters and challenges popular misconceptions that perceive and portray schizophrenia as hopelessly negative and wholly delusional. He does not describe himself as a ‘sufferer’ and rejects the term ‘illness’. He regards schizophrenia as an “experience” and defines it as “spiritual conflict”.
Beyond Reason is primarily positive and transformatory. Aidan Shingler’s experiences are perceived as a healing journey, a process which leads to an awakened spirituality and heightened perception: “There’s a wonderful sense of freedom, a great expansion of mind, clarity of thought, supernatural awareness.” Imbued with a higher level of perception and ‘oneness’ with the universe; Aidan feels a “deep reverence for the sacred in all creation.” Religious iconography, both western and eastern, is used in his work as potent symbols of not only his spirituality but also the suffering he has experienced and the hands of psychiatry, which he likens to crucifixion.
Aidan Shingler is reluctant to use the label of ‘artist’ and its limiting connotations, preferring instead the term ‘Reality Tester’. His questioning mind explores the definitions and nature of reality, and how each individual relates their own unique experience of it: “The reality of your nature is the nature of reality.” This questioning of labels, definitions and the idea of a fixed ‘reality’, is central to postmodern debate.
Language and the relationship between words and images are central to Aidan’s work. He explores the patterns between metaphor and symbol with the same dexterity as a poet – his creations are visual poems, visual essays, all part of the same epic, his psyche.
Although not consciously deriving from contemporary art, Aidan is, to a certain extent, heir to the dadaists and surrealists, notably Marcel Duchamp. His use and transformation of everyday things into objects of wonder, contemplation and magic is very surreal, as is his use of wordplay, poetry, wit and humour. Yet his work is beyond definition, beyond categorisation. It is direct, complex, enigmatic, honest, intellectual, emotional, and more. It is Beyond Reason - and an exhibition that will change how you perceive the world. Not to be missed.
During the exhibition, there will be a number of tie-in activities involving the organisation Art and Soul. This group, which celebrates mental well-being through the arts, has exhibited work at the gallery in previous years.
To celebrate World Mental Health Day on Thursday 10th October, Aidan Shingler will give a talk about his work and experiences in the Octagon of Orleans House Gallery. Members of the press who wish to attend this function should contact the gallery in advance for complimentary tickets.
One In A Hundred
xerox prints, butterfly, card and pin
4ft x 4ft