Past Events

21 June 2017 - Project presentation, Local History Group, Kenton, Community Room, Kenton Victory Hall, 19:30-20:30


May-June 2017 - Printmaking module with the Devon Recovery Learning Community


04 May 2017 - Creative arts workshop for Y2 students with Nicci Wonnacott


30 March 2017 - Project presentation, Exminster History Society, Methodist Church Hall, Exminster, 19:00-19:30


23 February 2017 - Creative arts workshop for Y1 students with Nicci Wonnacott


November 2016 - Series of four drama sessions about Exminster Hospital with the Year 6 groups of Exminster Primary School

18 October 2016 - We contributed an exhibition to the Foundation Stone Celebrations of Wonford House Hospital


05 July 2016 - The Devon County Mental Hospital (DCMH): 'good air' incarnate, ASA Conference 2016, Durham University

Drawing on authentic documents complemented by memories and personal narratives, this paper explores the Devon County Mental Hospital (DCMH) as a visual representation of 19th century concerns regarding the effects of breathing ‘good/bad’ air on mental well-being.


28 April 2016 - Project presentation, Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter, 13:00-15:00


26 April 2016 - Reminiscence workshop at The Manor, Exminster, 14:30-16:30


20 April 2016 - Themed drop-in session at St Sidwell's Centre, Exeter, 13:00-15:00


10 November 2015 – Exhibition & drama session at St Stephen’s Church, Exeter

As part of the annual ESRC Social Science Festival we hosted a colourful, interactive exhibition, at St Stephen’s (Exeter), exploring memories of the Devon County Mental Hospital. It was specifically designed to promote dialogue between academics, healthcare professionals, mental health charities, people with lived experience of mental illness and the wider public, thereby raising awareness of lessons to be learned from past experience. The exhibition engaged with audiences on three levels. Firstly, visual exhibits (cotton bags containing visual memories and fictional postcards written from the DCMH – created in the above mentioned workshops) combined with audio recordings of memories played at low background volume, immersed visitors in hospital life. Secondly, visitors were encouraged to respond to the exhibited postcards, i.e. write to someone in the hospital. Thirdly, actors from Trestle Theatre Company and Anthos Arts representing patients and staff from different time periods engaged interested visitors in constructive dialogues and also staged a dramatization of hospital life. The event was very well received by the general public and succeeded in stimulating discussions around artworks which deepened public understanding of key ideas in social science research whilst enhancing visitors’ mental health literacy.


07 October 2015 – Jubilee Close, Exminster

This event was not originally included in our workshop series, but resulted from advertising our project locally. We were invited by a group of pensioners resident at Exminster who meet regularly at Jubilee Close. They had read about our project in the Exminster Scene newsletter and invited us to present our work and to share memories with us, as several of the attendees were former Hospital staff.


09 September 2015 – Public Engagement session, Victory Hall, Kenton

This event targeted specifically former staff and patients who would be willing to share their memories and stories with us. We organised a cream tea event at Kenton’s Victory Hall for people to come together, reminisce and share their stories whilst enjoying a delicious cream tea. People were specifically invited to bring photographs and other memorabilia. The event was advertised in the local parish newsletters and was attended by a large number of former staff, most of whom agreed to be interviewed for the project.


14 July 2015 – Arts Workshop at Westbank Centre, Exminster

The first creative session has sparked much interest in the project and several of the participants joined us for our second session. This time, participants were encouraged to write a postcard either from the hospital (as a patient) or as a member of the outside community to a patient. The postcards served as prompts to talk about life and treatment in the Hospital and also address the stigma of mental illness. With several participants attending both creative sessions, the discussions were even livelier than at the first session and resulted in several people signing up for formal interviews about their affiliation with the Hospital. Postcards were also shared on Twitter and Facebook.


23 June 2015 – Arts Workshop at Westbank Centre, Exminster

The aim of this event was to reminisce about the former Devon County Mental Hospital. Memories were evoked through participants designing a cotton bag with a stamp of the hospital building at the front of the bag. The design for the stamp was kindly provided by Plymouth Lecturer and artist Sarah Bennett who did her PhD about the Devon County Mental Hospital. Some of the bags produced have since been exhibited on the project’s Facebook page and tweeted via the Centre for Medical History twitter account. Workshop participants comprised all age groups and genders. Interesting discussions arose between people who were affiliated with the Hospital (e.g. because they had worked or been treated there) and others, mostly younger, people who knew the former hospital building only in its current function, i.e. the Devington Park luxury apartment complex.