The Mind's Eye

brain-cabinet is one of the artworks on display

A book made from recycled magazines, a paper sculpture of a tiger and an intricate cabinet of curiosities are just some of the artworks on display in The Mind's Eye, a new exhibition opening at Hackney Museum this month on 14 June.

The artworks on display are a selection from almost 3,000 artworks created over the past 23 years by patients recovering from brain injuries at Homerton Hospital.

The Regional Neurological Rehabilitation Unit (RNRU) has an art room within Homerton Hospital which opened in 1995, where all the works in teh exhibition have been created. The RNRU offers art workshops to those with traumatic brain injuries developed from accidents or violent crime as well as those who have an acquired brain injury as the result of events like a stroke or an aneurysm.

Nearly 1,000 local professional artists have volunteered their time over the years to help patients in the RNRU create their works, and to help inspire experimental art techniques. Art curator at the hospital Shaun Caton, who has worked at the RNRU since its beginning, has witnessed the amazing results created thanks to interactive art workshops. Not only has the art helped patients improve their health including dexterity and movement, but the creative processes has released unknown artistic potential. Shaun has also witnessed how making art allows patients to connect with their family, children and friends after suffering difficult trauma.

Shaun Caton said: “It’s not just patients that come into the art room, they bring their kids, their partners, their family friends. They come in and help and by this collective process some healing is going on. Staff, patients, relatives, volunteers, visiting artists all of us collectively work together to help the patients to recover. Many patients also tell me they develop skills that they can apply when they leave to their new life, like practical skills such as holding objects, sustained concentration and manipulation of small implements, they also find new interest in art.”

One relative and carer of a patient who uses the art room finds the service invaluable, they said: “I felt all my stress about what’s happened to us as a family just going out of the window. My kids loved it too. Having this in the hospital is such an important service for patients families, it helps people like us to get something back which we have lost through a horrendous accident or injury.”

This is the 57th exhibition produced by the arts programme since its foundation, and patients helped curate the exhibit by choosing artworks to display. The display was made in partnership with Hackney Council and Homerton University Hospital and was sponsored by Bates and Irwin Mitchell solicitors.


Cllr Jon Burke, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Hackney Museum
Hackney is incredibly lucky to have a such a unique service, which empowers patients by helping them to fully express themselves. The enduring popularity and importance of the RNRU can be seen in this exhibition, with works spanning 23 years. It is truly inspiring to see the role that art and creativity plays in the rehabilitation of patients.
Cllr Jon Burke, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Hackney Museum

The exhibition will launch on 14 June, with a public event from 6-7.45pm. It will be open until 1 September. There will also be two family drop-in workshops and an exhibition guided tour over the summer, for more information on these and opening times please visit www.hackney.gov.uk/museum