The Dust of Everyday Life

The Dust of Everyday Life is a symposium on the arts, mental health, stigma, and social justice at the CCA in Glasgow, which ran annually from 2015-2017. It was programmed by the Mental Health Foundation and See Me and expanded and reflected on the work of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.

You can listen to recordings from our 2015, 2016 and 2017 events via the links below. There is also a gallery of images here


Art in a time of anxiety

What does it mean to be mentally healthy in the midst of so much anxiety-inducing political and cultural turmoil? And what can artists (and mental health arts festivals) do to help? Writer, publisher and activist Kevin Williamson, Linda Irvine of NHS Lothian, playwright Lynda Radley and poet/playwright Tawona Sithole discuss mental health in the age of Brexit and Donald Trump. Chaired by leading cultural critic Hannah McGill.


Hip Hop Psych – an introduction

Founded by psychiatrist Dr Akeem Sule and neuroscientist Dr Becky Inkster, Hip Hop Psych describes itself as ‘the interface that links hip-hop music and culture with mental health’, using its founders’ medical credibility and passion for hip-hop to cultivate awareness, empower others and remove stigma surrounding mental health and hip-hop.


Framing the family – personal documentary and mental health

What happens when close relations are lead characters not only in your private life, but also feature in your work? Award-winning filmmakers Karen Guthrie, Theresa Moerman Ib and Lucie Rachel join Flore Cosquer of the Scottish Documentary Institute to explore the emotional impact of creating a probing family portrait for the public eye. Chaired by Richard Warden, film lead for the Mental Health Foundation.


A conversation with trigger warnings

Often misunderstood and misrepresented, trigger warnings can be vital for people who have experienced trauma. But is it actually possible to predict what will trigger someone when organising an arts event? Film curator Richard Warden, theatre director Jen McGregor and ‘clinical psychologist Dr Simon Stuart share their experiences with cultural critic Hannah McGill.


Living well and dying well

Is it possible to adopt a more mentally healthy attitude towards our own deaths, and the deaths of those we love? Our guests at this session included Angie Dight of Mischief La Bas, creator of Festival of Ian Smith: A Celebration of Death, and Stephanie Katie Hunter, producer of After Words, a new theatre show about the role social media now plays in the grieving process. Chaired by Andrew Eaton-Lewis, arts lead for the Mental Health Foundation.


I caught the darkness – Leonard Cohen, music and depression

No songwriter has ever described depression with the eloquence and empathy of Leonard Cohen. In tribute to great man, who died in 2016, life-long Cohen fans Adele Bethel (of Sons and Daughters fame), poet Sean Hunt, and Gail Aldam of the Mental Health Foundation discuss his impact on both culture and mental health campaigning.


Chillout corner chat

How do we make arts events more accessible to people living with mental ill health? Emma Jayne Park, associate artist for the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, Fiona Boucher of the National Autistic Society Scotland and speaker/activist Paula McGuire explore some ideas with Mental Health Foundation arts lead Andrew Eaton-Lewis – from Harry Giles’ Chill Out Corner (open throughout the day at Dust 2017) to dance performances in people’s living rooms.


Building a social movement in the arts

The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival is just one of numerous festivals that combine the arts with social justice campaigning. Can these two things co-exist without getting in the way of each other? Chaired by Jenny Edwards, (CEO, Mental Health Foundation), with Fran Higson (film producer and director), Halina Rifai (founding member, TYCI) and Emma Jayne Park (associate artist, Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival)



The dust of early life – children, creativity and mental health

The mental health of children and young people is increasingly becoming an area of concern and political debate. How do we talk to children about mental health, and what can artists do to help? With Fiona Ferguson, creative development director for Imaginate, with Deborah Malcolm (author of Meh, a children’s book about depression), Rob Gallagher of Impact Arts (which runs art therapy courses for children), art therapist Alison Peebles, Red Bridge Arts creative director Alice McGrath (currently producing Titus, an acclaimed children’s show that addresses mental health) and child psychotherapist Andrew Dawson. 


Out of Sight, Out of Mind – visual art and stigma

We bring together speakers from three projects that use visual art to address mental health issues – Out of Sight Out of Mind, an annual exhibition in Edinburgh by 100 artists with lived experience of mental illness; The Clinic, a group exhibition showing as part of the 2016 Glasgow International that explores pseudo-sciences and the diverse ideas that surround them; and Broken Grey Wires, a contemporary art organisation exploring ‘mental health, philosophy, psychology and everything in between’. Chaired by art critic Moira Jeffrey.


Eve/Adam – portrayals of transgender lives

The National Theatre of Scotland’s show Eve/Adam is a double bill of theatre shows exploring transgender lives – Eve, a very personal, reflective show by playwright Jo Clifford, and Adam, the true story of an Egyptian trans man’s journey to self-discovery, directed by Cora Bissett (Glasgow Girls, Roadkill). The negative impact of stigma and prejudice on the mental health of transgender people is well documented, and the Mental Health Foundation has been working with the creators of the project to document transgender life stories in a positive and empowering way. For this discussion, Jo Clifford and Cora Bissett are joined by Vic Valentine of the Scottish Transgender Alliance and Alison Wren from LGBT Health & Wellbeing.


Truths vs fictions – documentary, drama and mental health

Producer Samuel Goldwyn shot down a proposed social purpose film with “If you want to send a message, use Western Union.” Although it’s now posts and tweets instead of telegrams, does the idea still hold for cinema: more pleasure, less preachy? And even if we agree that films make a difference in combating mental health stigma, is that best done through documentary or drama? With director and educator Kate Burton, recently involved in the young person’s mental health drama Talk It Out; Sonja Henrici, co-director of the Scottish Documentary Institute and producer of the festival hit Seven Songs for a Long Life (shot at Strathcarron Hospice); Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch, who won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival with God Help the Girl; and filmmaker / visual artist Ruth Paxton, whose exploration of a Glasgow man’s depression and suicide, Pulse, was a winner at the 2015 London Short Film Festival. Chaired by Richard Warden, film lead for the Mental Health Foundation.


Architecture and mental health

How does the built environment around us impact on our health, and how should architects take this into consideration? With architect Richard Murphy (whose firm Richard Murphy Architects has designed two residential dementia homes and an 80 bed mental health facility); architect Andy Law of Reiach and Hall architects (responsible for the award-winning Maggie’s Centre in Lanarkshire); and Angus Farquhar of the groundbreaking arts organisation NVA (whose projects include the Hidden Gardens at Tramway in Glasgow). Chaired by Jackie Sands, Senior, Arts and Health, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and presented in partnership with Festival of Architecture 2016.


One Thinks of it all as a Dream – the life of Syd Barrett

The 2016 Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival included the world premiere of One Thinks of It All as a Dream, a specially commissioned play by Alan Bissett (The Moira Monologues, Ban this Filth) about the life of Syd Barrett, the original frontman of Pink Floyd. Here, psychiatrist Dr Peter Byrne and writer and broadcaster John Cavanagh discuss some of the myths and misconceptions around ‘mad Syd’, while director Sacha Kyle and actors Andrew John Tait, George Brennan and Kieran Baker present a short extract from Alan’s play.



Glasgow Girls, ten years on

How a group of Drumchapel schoolgirls helped transform perceptions of a stigmatised community, and what other campaigners, and storytellers, can learn from them. With Amal Azzudin (Mental Health Foundation), Cora Bissett (creator of Glasgow Girls the musical), Brian Welsh (director of Glasgow Girls the TV drama), Lindsay Hill (director of the original Glasgow Girls documentary). Chaired by Joyce McMillan (theatre critic and cultural commentator, the Scotsman).


Mental health and television

From My Mad Fat Diary and EastEnders to Homeland, is TV waking up to mental health stigma, as a new report by Time to Change seems to suggest? With Donna Franceschild (writer, Takin’ Over The Asylum), Alison Kerry (head of media, MIND), Paul Whitelaw (TV critic). Chaired by  Andrew Eaton-Lewis (Mental Health Foundation).


Theatre, therapy and intimacy: the life and work of Adrian Howells

A session dedicated to the Glasgow-based theatre-maker, who died in 2014. With Deirdre Heddon (Professor of contemporary performance, University of Glasgow), Nic Green (theatre-maker), Farida Mutawalli (BACP accredited counsellor). Chaired by Joyce McMillan (theatre critic and cultural commentator, the Scotsman).


The myth of the mad genius

A session exploring stigmatising depictions of creatives in cinema, and how filmmakers might move beyond the usual types and tropes. With Dr Peter Byrne (consultant psychiatrist and visiting professor at University of Strathclyde), Hannah McGill (critic and former director of Edinburgh International Film Festival), Emma Davie (documentary filmmaker and programme director, Edinburgh College of Art). Chaired by  Richard Warden (filmmaker and film curator at Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival).


Writing to recovery

From memoirs to creative fiction, what role can writing play in overcoming mental health issues? With Gail Porter (writer, TV presenter and health campaigner), Duglas T Stewart (singer-songwriter, BMX Bandits), Michael Rowe(associate professor, department of psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine), John McCormack (Scottish Recovery Network). Chaired by Mark Brown (editor of 1 in 4 magazine).


A picture in mind

How does the visual image help us to communicate the reality of mental ill health without reinforcing stigma? How are people using new media and traditional methods to tell their stories and address stigma? What’s the alternative to the ‘headclutcher’ image for news reportage? With Graham Miller (documentary photographer and founder of Photohonesty), Alex Hewitt  (photographer and picture editor), Alison Kerry  (head of media, MIND). Chaired by  Chris O’Sullivan (policy and development manager, Mental Health Foundation).


Closing session

In which we let the audience shape the conversation and reflect on all the day’s discussions, with occasional prompts from Lee Knifton (head of Mental Health Foundation Scotland), Judith Robertson (programme director, See Me) and Dr Peter Byrne (consultant psychiatrist and visiting professor at University of Strathclyde). Chaired by Andrew Eaton-Lewis (Mental Health Foundation).


‘clinical psychologist Dr Simon Stuart