Roving Diagnostic Unit

Daily Life Ltd. project


25 July 2015
Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, London


13 October 2016
William Morris Gallery, London



In their role as custodians of our heritage and culture, museums and galleries categorise, define, and label their contents. Roving Diagnostic Unit critiqued modern psychiatric diagnosis, which seeks to do the same things with ‘patients’; people experiencing mental distress. In doing so, the project exposed some of the absurdities of the mental health system, while highlighting the strengths and talents of people who have been 'diagnosed'. 


Led by ‘Dr Bobby’ (Bobby Baker), the Roving Diagnostic Unit had two iterations. The first was at Tower Hamlets Cemetary Park commissioned for Shuffle Festival in 2015. The second was a year later, at William Morris Gallery and park. For both, Baker invited contributions from other artists and fellow Experts by Experience of the mental health system.


For Shuffle Festival, participants were invited by Baker to consider the predicaments of the everyday objects in the park – did the litter-bin suffer hoarding symptoms? Perhaps the pond was delusional? The bench by the path seemed uneasy: social anxiety disorder? The event featured contributions by writer-performer-artist sean burn, artist Simon Raven, and singer-songwriter Dylan Tighe.


At the William Morris Gallery, pertinent questions were again asked in order to ‘diagnose’ the Gallery and its surrounding park, with artists commissioned to create participatory adventures for the public. Questions asked included, does the gift shop display hoarding symptoms? Perhaps the textile collection has family problems: generalised anxiety disorders? Are the toilets experiencing grandiose delusions? The artists involved alongside Baker were Rhiannon Armstrong, Sara Haq, Marie Louise Plum, Kate Rolison, Selina Thompson, whatsthebigmistry; singer-songwriter Dylan Tighe; and writer-performer-artist sean burn. 


By exploring the psychiatric diagnostic framework through an artistic and witty lens, Roving Diagnostic Framework questioned the assumption that our state of mind can be defined by an ‘expert’ and that people can be conveniently labelled as disordered. 


The Roving Diagnostic Unit at the William Morris Gallery was supported by Wellcome, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and London Borough of Waltham Forest.

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Led by artist Bobby Baker, Daily Life Ltd. explores and celebrates everyday life, and promotes gender equality. We create great art that makes the mundane marvellous!

Daily Life Ltd.

Studio 26 Collage Artspace 3

40 Cumberland Road

Wood Green

London, N22 7SG

+44 (0)20 3301 0855

studio@dailylifeltd.co.uk

© Daily Life Ltd. Daily Life Ltd. is a registered charity in England and Wales. Charity Number 1058787. VAT Number: 673231642

Daily Life Ltd. is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.