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Chelsea Fringe

Our Chelsea Fringe installation, Taking a Turn, explores the mental health history of hospital gardens from 1800 to contemporary times using historical archives as well as historical and contemporary patient narratives in a garden installation.

Located in Exchange Square, the original site of Bedlam – Bethlem Royal hospital – the world’s oldest psychiatric hospital, ‘Taking a Turn’ brings together medicine, history and horticulture in a fresh approach about a little-known medical history. This history has become a seedbed for the contemporary movement popularising horticulture and outdoor exercise as a therapeutic regime.

The Chelsea Fringe is the alternative gardening festival, and sister organisation to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It hosts a quirky mix of art, happenings, installations, talks, walks and more across London, Britain and internationally.

We are hosting ‘Taking a Turn: mental health history of hospital gardens' for this year's festival until Friday 5 June. The installation is located in Exchange Square by The Salt Point Bar.

It was created by gardening therapist and garden designer Rebecca Smith in partnership with Bethlem Royal Hospital at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Kings College London and Chelsea Fringe.

The garden installation is part of an on-going project supported by the Wellcome Trust exploring the mental health history of hospital gardens from 1800 to contemporary times, using historical archives as well as contemporary patient narratives. It brings together medicine, history and horticulture in a fresh approach to facilitate learning in a little-known medical history. This history has become a seedbed for the contemporary movement popularising horticulture and outdoor exercise as a therapeutic regime.

Public talks will be held by the installation on Sunday 17th and Sunday 24th May from 3-5pm.

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