An art exhibition exploring the mental health protest movement's struggle for "humanity and respect" opens in Croydon next month.

Curator Dolly Sen became involved in activism after experiencing treatment as a psychiatric patient, gaining a personal understanding of the attitudes and obstacles those with mental health issues encounter.

Showing at Bethlem Museum of Mind, 'Art & Protest: What's there to be mad about?' explores how "people rise up against what has hurt them, whether it be psychiatric coercion, benefit cut deaths, austerity, or any other form of oppression".

Dolly says: “This exhibition will honour our right to be ourselves and to be treated with humanity and respect, and even our right to stay alive, by using art to confront, to embolden ourselves with, to stand tall, and to show others they are not alone.

"We need to protest to reject the status we have been given. It is art to create an effect and affect; it is to change things; it is switching the power relations to make perpetrators look like twats.

"Art is our armour to go into battle with; a way to create a world where we can claim some of our soul back.

"The mental health protest movement has been around for decades, this exhibition presents and rejoices in some of the current and recent work coming out of the UK and aims to provide a platform for dialogue around art, activism and the mental health care system.”

People with a history of contact with mental health services have sought representation, support and advocacy for centuries.

Service user advocacy groups are varied in nature: from grassroots to national, informal to established, conservative to radical, they reflect the diversity of society.

The exhibition highlights the material culture of some of these groups, and charts the development and impact of their voices, and the challenges they have faced.

Dolly Sen and contributing artists will bring live performances and acts of protest to the gallery and site of the Bethlem Royal Hospital, including ‘bedlamb’, a ‘mad citizenship test’ and an online ‘anti-anti' campaign day.

Arts and mental health festival Bonkersfest will be resurrected for one day at the Dragon Café, and Denise McKenna, co-founder of Mental Health Resistance Network will deliver the annual Robert Dellar memorial lecture.

The exhibition runs from September 7 to January 4 2020.