New season explores living in an age of anxiety

Description: An installation made up of yellow walls and grey and pink planks of different shapes and sizes propped up against each other, like fragments. Mirrored tiles on the floor reflect screens showing facial expressions – a woman rubbing her head, clasping wrists, and a woman putting a finger to her eye. A woman is just visible on the far right walking through the space

We all experience anxiety to some extent during our lives.

From 19 September, our new exhibition and events season, ON EDGE: Living in an Age of Anxiety, will explore creative and positive responses to our anxious times.

ON EDGE will consider different personal experiences of anxiety, how the world around us can cause worry or stress, and our evolutionary impulse to be on edge.

Drawing on cutting-edge mental health research from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, the season reflects the perspectives of artists, scientists, young people and patients.

The exhibition includes several new commissions developed by artists with researchers from King’s. Leah Clements will explore the relationship between sleep and anxiety in a new sound and moving image artwork developed with Dr Guy Leschziner from the Sleep Disorder Centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital.

Alice May Williams will create bold new paintings inspired by the colours and language of football, while Benedict Drew will express the subjective experience of anxiety through sound and light.

Rooted in research into depersonalisation and derealisation disorders (DPD) and conversations with service users from the Maudsley Hospital in south London, Sarah Howe presents Consider Falling, a sculptural installation. Harold Offeh will work with patients at the Bethlem Royal Hospital and the charity Hospital Rooms to create a new series of patterns and designs incorporated into the architecture of Science Gallery London.

“King’s College London is home to outstanding mental health research, including on the causes and effects of anxiety,” said Professor Thalia Eley, Professor of Developmental Behavioural Genetics at King’s and ON EDGE Season Advisor. “This season brings new perspectives to a phenomenon that affects so many of us. ON EDGE invites visitors to reflect on their own wellbeing in a wider context.”

“The exhibition takes as its starting point that we all experience anxiety at some point in our lives,” said curator-producer Mette Kjærgaard Præst. “We aim to open up a critical conversation about the causes of and responses to anxiety in contemporary society. ON EDGE makes visible the possible connections between individual experiences and the wider societal conditions that frame them.”

A project by Cian McConn will work with the Science Gallery London Mediators to compile an ongoing list of words related to topics that we are not usually encouraged to talk about in public. These words will be printed on T-shirts worn by Mediators in the Gallery, inviting visitors to start a conversation. McConn will also present a new audio work, Some people have no shoes, based on observations of other people’s difficult situations.

ON EDGE also considers how our noisy and uncertain world affects our wellbeing as a society. In the 3D animation Bellona (after Samuel R. Delany), Ann Lislegaard draws on Delany’s cult sci-fi novel, Dhalgren, to investigate how the urban environment affects our psychological state.

Notes on Humiliation by Cally Spooner is a series of posters based on interviews with Dr Isabel Valli during her time at the IoPPN. The posters explore the historical diagnosis of ‘hysteria’ and how the term has resurfaced in politics and everyday language today.

POST-SURVEILLANCE ART, a series of posters by Suzanne Treister, navigates new technology and what we assume to be true, questioning what it means to ‘share’ in the digital age.

Throughout the season, the Gallery will host a space for visitors to think about and share the ways we react to and experience anxiety. This will be designed by Resolve Collective and our Young Leaders, a group of 15-25-year olds who live, work or study at King’s or in the neighbouring boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth.

“Across King’s College London, researchers are developing new and imaginative thinking on the issues that really matter,” said Deborah Bull, Vice President & Vice-Principal (London) and Senior Advisory Fellow for Culture at King’s College London. “At Science Gallery London, we bring scientists together with artists to provoke new perspectives on some of the world’s greatest challenges and connect in innovative ways between the university and communities across London and beyond.”

A programme of free events, including talks, workshops and Friday Lates will continue the conversation around anxiety in contemporary society.

John O’Shea, Head of Programming at Science Gallery London, said: “We hope that visitors to the exhibition will be engaged by the questions posed, and, through the creative strategies of the artists, feel empowered to have bold discussions about the experience of anxiety within contemporary society.”

Full details coming soon - keep an eye on our website and social media @scigallerylon for the latest news.

Find out more about accessibility and visiting the Gallery.

ON EDGE: Living in an Age of Anxiety
19 September 2019 - 19 January 2020
Free entry


If you have been affected by anxiety, the following organisations provide suppport: 


Anxiety UK:

Samaritans: or call free on 116 123.

Student Support

King’s College London Student Services

Big White Wall:



Image: Sarah Howe, Consider Falling, 2018.