The changing face of rest

Ella Rhodes reports.

A major new exhibition exploring rest and noise, tumult and work, through installations, performance, drawing, poetry, data, sound and music, opens at the end of September. Rest & Its Discontents draws on Hubbub, a two-year residency led by Durham University and undertaken by 50 international psychologists, artists, writers, social scientists, broadcasters, humanities researchers and mental health experts in The Hub at Wellcome Collection in London (

Highlights of the exhibition include a ‘radio of rest’ by Nina Garthwaite of In The Dark radio, which weaves together voices, sounds and music from within and beyond the show, broadcast as a series of live programmes, podcasts and web streams. Also Patrick Coyle’s The Floating Thirty-Nine (pictured above) comprises 39 solar-powered objects floating on the large expanse of water immediately outside the gallery which alludes to the number of categories of labour prohibited on the Sabbath.  

The exhibition is not confined to conventional artworks either; Lynne Friedli’s investigations ( into anti-work struggles and politics will also be debated live with local campaign groups in the gallery. Guerilla Science will be carrying out a listening experiment taking exhibition visitors to a nearby 20-storey building to explore the psychogeography of rest in the capital’s rapidly changing built environment.

Antonia Barnett-McIntosh’s film Breath, will also be shown, it explores the concept of breath as musical rest and breathlessness as a form of exhaustion in a flute performance. Teaching us to Relax by Ayesha Nathoo explores the 20th-century history of therapeutic relaxation surveying the messages, instructions and depictions of alternative relaxations as proposed by psychology, alternative health, physiotherapy, physical education and antenatal self-help books.

The exhibition will also be accompanied by an extensive programme of events including an exploration of the ramifications of the 1975 Iceland women’s’ strike, a panel discussion about the anxiety generated by mass media and rolling news, a cabaret of anti-work songs, and new music and poetry performances.

As Rest & Its Discontents opens, the results of the world’s largest-ever survey into subjective experiences of rest, The Rest Test, will be announced on BBC Radio 4’s All In The Mind by broadcaster, writer and associate director of Hubbub Claudia Hammond.

The exhibition, curated by Robert Devcic, founder of GV Art London, runs from Friday 30 September to Sunday 30 October at The Mile End Art Pavilion. 

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