University of Exeter Artist in Residence - Elizabeth van der Beugel


Elizabeth van der Beugel


Artist in residence, Psychology department, University of Exeter, October 2014 – May 2015

As part of the Exeter Enquires Project, artist Elizabeth van der Beugel undertook a residency with Dr Heather O’Mahen, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at in the Mood Disorders Centre at the University, specialising in perinatal mood disorders. The residency culminated in an exhibition of Elizabeth’s work, in the University's Forum, in May 2015.

From her unique position as an artist and previous sufferer of perinatal OCD, Elizabeth was interested in exploring ideas of identity and motherhood when complicated by a perinatal anxiety or mood disorder. When occurring at a time of life so swathed in cultural expectation, the project examined how women integrate these experiences into their perceptions of themselves as mothers. It explored how a perinatal mental illness can fragment women’s identities, and force a re-ordering, and piecing together of a new, different and perhaps fragile whole.

The project considered the implications of a perinatal mood disorder throughout the family unit and how women navigate the gap between their expectations of recovery and reality. She also explored whether it is possible to make sense of, or come to embrace, a personal story that in no way adheres to culturally or socially acceptable norms, or private expectations.

The project recognised that the rippling effects of an anxiety or mood disorder at this critical time in a woman’s life often last well beyond the ‘perinatal period’. During her residency Elizabeth was interested in exploring these ramifications with Dr Heather O’Mahen, other academics and women with lived experience of these disorders, to highlight an area often undiscussed in clinical and academic work.

Following the residency, Elizabeth’s work was displayed in an exhibition in the Forum building on the Streatham Campus, in May 2015.

Exeter Enquires was a two year project funded by Arts Council England and managed by the University of Exeter Arts and Culture team.  It brought four artists together with four University departments and four community groups. The artists  undertook residencies at the University of Exeter followed by a community residency, the end result of which was a performance, exhibit or happening. The reason for doing this was to assist and support individual artists with further innovating their practice through collaboration with an academic discipline and current challenge that they might not have considered previously.  Additionally, the artists will create ways of showcasing academic research through an artistic medium.


More information about Elizabeth van der Beugel here.


Image: detail from Obsessively Drawn by Elizabeth van der Beugel, 2013. Silverpoint on gesso panel.