In|discussion public lecture series 2014-15 The Construction of Madness | Knowledge

Posted: 12 December, 2014

As part of our ongoing reflections on Grangegorman as the new campus for the DIT, we have invited two speakers who will speak to their experiences both having worked on the site together as clinical practitioners and whose perspectives are marked by a critique of the psychiatric institution. Dr. Ivor Browne is a well known psychiatrist who worked for many years and whose experimental practices were conducted in Grangegorman. Ciaran Smyth too worked in his previous capacity as a psychologist in Grangegorman though his role and experience as part of Vagabond Reviews will be called on in a public conversation.

Dr. Ivor Browne

Ivor Browne is Professor Emeritus, University College, Dublin and retired as Chief Psychiatrist of the then Eastern Health Board in 1994. Over the last four decades, he has been a central and controversial figure in Irish life up until the mid-nineties when he retired. Part of this was his fearless opposition to orthodox psychiatry.

As a young man he was given a fellowship to Harvard University where he studied Public and Community Mental Health. He returned to Ireland determined to put what he had learned into practice and it was his initiative which took the care of mental patients away from large institutions into the community. Recent books include Ivor Browne: Music and Madness (2009) and The Writings of Ivor Browne: Steps along the road, the evolution of a slow learner (2013) both published by Cork University Press.

Ciaran Smyth

Smyth works with Ailbhe Murphy as Vagabond Reviews <> an interdisciplinary platform combining socially engaged art and research practice. He was awarded his PhD in 2004 from the Department of Sociology at University College Dublin. His research there combined an ethnography of a contemporary public psychiatric system with a post-structuralist analysis of mental medicine in its community-based mode of operations. In the 1990s while working as a psychologist, Ciaran developed the CAMUS Project in collaboration with Prof. Ivor Browne. Influenced by construct psychology and systems theory approaches for developing alternatives to traditional models of psychiatric recovery the CAMUS Project was formulated as an emancipatory educational alternative to traditional rehabilitation programmes for those recovering from a first hospitalisation.

In its research and material practices Vagabond Reviews engages broader publics in alternative forms of cultural participation and knowledge production. Upcoming projects in 2015 include Temporary Institute for the Study of Contemporary Symbolic Violence for Workhouse Union, curated by Hollie Kearns and Rosie Lynch. Current work includes Scientia Civitatis: Missing Titles for the exhibition Phoenix Rising, Art and the Civic Imagination curated by Logan Sisley and currently on exhibition at the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery and the Arcade Project, which explores arts-based pedagogy in youth work with the Rialto Youth Project in Dublin. Recent projects include (In)Visible Labour Factorium for the National Women’s Council of Ireland’s Legacy Project, curated by Valerie Connor.

All welcome but please be sure to book a place here - <>

in|discussion The Construction of Madness | Knowledge

The Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (GradCAM), the School of Art, Design and Printing and the School of Languages, Law and Social Sciences, together recognize the importance of the history of the new site in Grangegorman and are organizing a series of public interventions to prompt reflection and discussion.

In recent times many public buildings have been re-purposed from the austere institutions they once were.  The new Art School in Limerick, for instance, was a Magdalene Laundry and the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology was once a Reform School. These public buildings reflect the disciplinary and carceral regimes of a near past that has been air-brushed by generations of reform.  The new Grangegorman Campus is one such venture that seeks to transform, repurpose and regenerate the local area.

So the Grangegorman site is more than a resolution to accommodation problems. We would like to take the opportunity to mark the move and transformations in a way that draws attention to the site itself: the setting, the history, the architecture, and the institution that continues to operate there. It offers a moment to reflect on the deeply embedded social and psychic meanings, memories and materialised practices much of which may have been obscured by the design and architectural interventions in the renovation conducted on the site.  As an educational institution, the developments seeks to turn an inward-looking enclosed site to face the city and the immediate community that will render its previous purpose to history: this history also needs to be opened out rather than shut in.  Further, the aim then is to frame and address it as a significant feature of our all too recent collective experience which continues to resonate in the everyday lives of the wider community.

The first of these interventions will hear from a number of invited scholars and public figures who can speak to the site, the institution, its practices, the architecture, its histories, its significance and meaning in the development of the State and the communities within and outside Grangegorman.  We are also conscious that this needs to be a public exchange and debate not least to inform but also to stimulate further discussion around institutions, policies and general mental health issues and wellbeing.

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