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The Empathy Clinic

Cultivating empathy in place of stigma, fear and discrimination and supporting mental health and suicide prevention

Unless we can imaginatively ‘step into someone else’s shoes’ we cannot empathise. But the empathy problem goes deeper. Neuroscientific evidence suggests that we direct empathy to people we perceive to be ‘like us’. Some of us make a conscious effort to overcome bias and stigma – but are we really comfortable with difference and diversity? Can we deal with another’s distress, or even listen effectively?

The Empathy Clinic brings together leading national and international artists investigating their own and others’ experiences of anxiety, mental health, stigma, and oppressive circumstances. It includes newly commissioned immersive artworks, presenting first-person, embodied perspectives of challenging lived experience, uniquely designed to challenge assumptions about what art does, and how perspective sharing really affects us.

Rather than merely showing this work, The Empathy Clinic asks how we might be radically changed by it: What are the effects (positive or negative) of engaging closely with another’s personal experience? Can we equip people with the tools and insights to become more empathetic? Can we literally defeat stigma with art?

Playing with concepts related to health and service provision as the basis for an innovative art experience, the project refashions the clinic as an aesthetic experience, with artist led projects and tools/techniques for personal and social transformation.

The Clinic also runs Appointments, a series of performance events by solo artists; and Course of Empathy, an app to track experiences of empathy following participation in the exhibition program. The Clinic setting is designed by award-winning theatre and exhibition designer, Anna Tregloan to support visitors through their encounters and interactions, and situates artwork in comfortable and stimulating environs.

Trigger warnings: The Empathy Clinic is intended to be challenging in a positive way. The environment supports quiet reflection. There are no graphic or directly confrontational works, although the content may arouse strong emotions



Every day, 10am to 5pm

Friday 27 September to Saturday 16 November 2019

Except Sunday 29 September, Monday 30 September, Sunday 6 October, Labour Day, Sunday 13 October, Monday 14 October, Sunday 20 October, Monday 21 October, Sunday 27 October, Monday 28 October, Sunday 3 November, Monday 4 November, Sunday 10 November and Monday 11 November


More Info

Hashtag: #TheBigAnxiety

Accessibility services

  • Mobility access
  • People who are blind or have low vision

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