Touch the Surface at the Bethlam Gallery exhibition, Beckenham

An artist with OCD and an “obsession” with Madonna has created an exhibition of his ceramics that he is inviting people not just to look at, but to touch.

Bethlem Gallery is a gallery and visual arts organisation based at Bethlem Royal Hospital in Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham.

Touching the Surface brings together a collection of ceramic sculptures made by artist Keith Clapson between 2017 and 2023.

Mr Clapson invites viewers to touch his sculptures that have been formed by hand in clay and glazed experimentally.

The artist said he wanted to produce work “with no restraints on colour, texture and quantity.”

He is also a big fan of Madonna.

He said: “More is never enough, and the 1990 Madonna track More on the I’m Breathless album sums up Maximalism for me.”

His pieces were developed from a personal experience of the limitations Mr Clapson has endured for almost 20 years due to extreme OCD and to chart his recovery over a six-year period.

Clapson’s sculptural ceramic works appear formed around air, with the folds and creases representing constraint, some pieces bubbling with colours and glaze oozing from their openings.

The effect is produced with Mr Clapson’s overflowing emotions in mind, squeezed out through pressure, creating the start of something new and colourful.

He said: “OCD had taken my life away from me, triggering depression and anxiety, I had lost everything except a very dark sense of humour and an obsession with Madonna.”

Sophie Leighton, director of Bethlem Gallery said: “Mr Clapson approaches his art from many angles – as a useful practice that has supported him to live well, to explore notions of what is abject, and also to bring joy in the beautiful glazes and forms he creates.

“It is such a pleasure to work with him on this exhibition and to connect with the Anxiety Disorders Residential Unit at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and City Lit as part of the programme.

“It will be incredible to see the gallery full of so many of these sculptures, luring people into experience them by both looking and touching.”

Touching the Surface is open from September 20 until November 18 at Bethlem Gallery in Beckenham.



Picture: Keith Clapson Touching the Surface Bethlem Gallery 2023 Picture: Keith Clapson

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:


If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.