Monica Lundy is a Californian artist gifted with an extraordinary technique; she is also, notably, a historian, a detective, a time-traveller and a necromancer.
Through assiduous research of archival materials, she unearths vanished paradigms and reconjures them as haunting historical portraiture.
Through the séance of art-making, she is able, effectively, to raise the spirits of people and places long since faded into obscurity and empower them to whisper their truths into contemporary ears.
The material virtuosity with which she accomplishes this feat is something to behold. In the ten-plus years I have been writing about her work, I have marvelled at the invention with which she finesses, wrangles, and sometimes flat-out strong-arms disparate media into sumptuous celebrations of time, memory, decay, and transformation.' - Essay by Richard Speers.
In 2016 Monica Lundy collaborated with Stoney Road Press to produce new carborundum and gesso prints which explore the history of a number of psychiatric patients from Bethlem Royal Hospital in London during the 1800's. Bethlem: Bethlem Royal Hospital, founded in 1247, was the first institution in the UK to specialise in care for the mentally ill. It’s one of the most famous, and infamous, psychiatric institutions in history.
The word 'bedlam' was derived from the hospital’s prior nickname, which it acquired around the 14th century, for its infamously inhumane treatment of patients (including torture, neglect and putting patients on public display for profit).
The early 19th century brought about shifting social attitudes regarding how the mentally ill should be treated, and the function of 'insane asylums' (also referred to as 'lunacy reform'). In Victorian times, Bethlem Royal Hospital sought to treat only 'curables' (as opposed to 'incurables'), and worked with photographer Henry Hering to take before photographs of patients. Hering then photographed the patients after their release, when they were considered 'cured'.
Hering documented patients throughout the 1850’s. William (1857) and Harriet (1858) are based on Henry Hering photos of two patients from Bethlem Royal Hospital before their medical treatments.