Mad Love, workshop with The Vacuum Cleaner (James Leadbitter)

There is an urgent need to address the social stigma and provision of care for people with mental health disabilities. It is reported that 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems at some point in their life, and a recent YouGov survey shows that these people experience more discrimination than any other marginalised group. This internal workshop and subsequent public talk with artist James Leadbitter (AKA The Vacuum Cleaner) will explore our role as Open School East Associates, artists, and the wider community, asking, ‘What do people with mental health disabilities need to make their experiences safe?’ Organised and facilitated by OSE Associate Lottie McCarthy.

Part 1

A Madlove workshop for the OSE Staff, Associates and Young Associates, inviting participants on a journey to think about mental health and care in a utopian way. We will ask participants to design a ‘safe place to go mad’, to challenge the current social and medical perception of mental health, through a playful, imaginative, and positive process.

Part 2

The following day we will be holding a public talk on James’s work, Mental health Activism, Madlove, and our workshop outcomes. Time and place TBC.

About the artist


— Metropolitan Police


— The Big Issue

“A pain in the ass.”

— Nacht Kritik

“It’s not entertaining.”

— The Scotsman

The vacuum cleaner is the name of a UK based artist who makes candid, provocative and playful art about the world being messed up.

The vacuum cleaner wants to find better ways to go mad.  Drawing on his own experience of mental health disability, he works with groups including young people, health professionals and vulnerable adults to challenge how mental health is understood, treated and experienced.

With roots in activism and radical art, the vacuum cleaner has created one-man interventions and large-scale actions as well as performance, installation and film.  His work has been shown in galleries, theatres, hospitals and schools and has appeared on streets and in public spaces internationally.

The vacuum cleaner is James Leadbitter.  He works from his Margate studio with his dog, Doris.