Dolly Sen: archives

  • Dolly Sen, artist.
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


This collection is uncatalogued. The following is an interim description which may be altered when detailed cataloguing takes place in future.

Dolly Sen, a survivor artist, explored Wellcome's archives to see how psychiatry has hurt Queer people under the guise of psychiatric treatment. In her perfomance piece, "Shocking Treatment", Dolly Sen created Rorschach tests of fanny prints of several people, and asked event participants to 'diagnose' the heterosexual ones. Rorschach tests were used as psychiatric tools to diagnose whether someone was gay and had no scientific basis. Dolly asked participants to: "place a sticker on the straight one/s. The straight fanny will be allowed to travel all over the world withough worrying about the death penalty. The straight fanny will have more privileges. The straight fanny's orgasm will be more righteous than the others."

Series title "Birdsong from Inobservable Worlds". Performance 1: "Wondering Womb"; Performance 2: "Shocking Treatment"; Performance 3: "Racism, Willful Ignorance and Psychiatry".

Folder 1: Material from Performance 1, "Wondering Womb", including 16 sanitary towel papers with script for performance, and a book created by Dolly Sen, repurposing a Ladybird book to create a "Ladybird Book of the Menopause".

Folder 2: Cue cards from Performance 2, "Shocking Treatment".

Folders 3-13: 11 A3 prints, consisting of 9 Rorschach test fanny prints, 1 print of a cat (pussy), and a sign for the event "Shocking Treatment". Post-it notes from event have since been removed from the prints for conservation reasons.

Artworks accessioned in Sierra: Performance 1: o10585710; Performance 2: o10585722; Performance 3: o10585734



Physical description

Uncatalogued: 1 box; 5.924 GB


Biographical note

Dolly Sen (b. 1970, she/they) is a UK artist whose art practice crosses writing, performance, film and visual art. Since 2004 they have exhibited and performed internationally. Their films have also been shown worldwide. Their journey as an artist has taken them up a tree in Regents Park, to California’s Death Row, to the Barbican, Tower Bridge and the Royal Academy, Trafalgar Square, and up a ladder to screw a lightbulb into the sky.

Dolly Sen is interested in debate and social experiment around themes of madness, sanity, the other, and acceptable behaviours, from an unusual and unconventional position of power. Their artwork is subversive, playful and radical, challenging society’s perception of mental health and madness, and political, social and structural issues that impact mental health and mental healthcare. They believe that there is a side to madness that doesn’t get shown, that is intelligent, funny, and pointing of the emperor’s new clothes.

Dolly Sen has worked recently on an Unlimited/Wellcome Collection commission where they are standing up for the survivor’s voice in mental health archives, as well as sectioning the DWP.

Information adapted from biographical information on Bethlem Gallery website retrieved Sep 2023.

Copyright note

Copyright retained by Dolly Sen; CC-BY license granted to Wellcome Collection.

Terms of use

This collection is currently uncatalogued and cannot be ordered online. Requests to view uncatalogued material are considered on a case by case basis. Please contact for more details.


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Accession number

  • 2720