Bonkersfest! South East London’s fantastic festival of mirth and madness, kicks off this Saturday with its biggest ever event. It’s also finally getting the recognition it deserves with a fantastic article in The Times and another in the New Statesman covering the upcoming celebrations.
In fact, it was also recently name dropped in a Guardian article and a story in The New York Times, although I can proudly say that we covered the mayhem back when it first started in 2006, when it was launched by the Mayor of Southwark firing a banana laden cannon.
From The Times:
So Dolly Sen, 37, an artist and writer, will spend the day trying to screw a light bulb into the sky because ‚Äúthe world is dark enough as it is‚Äù. There will also be a moving padded cell, a de-normalisation programme, and performance art by Bobby Baker featuring seven adults dressed as frozen peas.
Does it sound a bit crazy? Well, that‚Äôs the point. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a history of many artists and writers being diagnosed with mental illness,‚Äù says Baker. ‚ÄúPeople who were unusual and different used to be more celebrated and accommodated, but now there‚Äôs a tremendous amount of fear. I feel people like me have a sensitivity and creativity that is very valuable, as well as an enormous sense of humour about the whole thing.‚Äù
The irreverent tone and celebration of all things outside the norm make it quite different from your average mental health event – even if the rock bands, circus performers and techno DJs are also a giveaway.
Bonkersfest! has just got better each time and always seems to be blessed by wonderful weather and great performers (although, I have to say, I did almost evaporate waiting for John Hegley to come on stage in a rather warm marquee last year).
It’s organised by Creative Routes, a grass roots arts association for people with mental health difficulties, who are one of the gems of South London.
It happens on Camberwell Green (not the site of the original Bedlam Hospital, as the NYT seemed to think) but still only two minutes walk from the Maudsley Hospital – the spiritual home of British psychiatry.
The Times article also features Liz Spikol, whose name I’m sure you’ll recognise if you’re a regular visitor to Mind Hacks.
Also, one of the organisers of Bonkersfest! changed her name by deed poll to Sarah Tonin, and you gotta respect that.