The art in psychedelia – new exhibition supports safe use of ‘magic mushrooms’

Mural in the Psychedelic Society’s new E9 headquarters. Pic: Dina Nagapetyants

Arts works inspired by the use of psychedelic substances has gone on show in Hackney as part of a campaign to promote the safe use of mind bending drugs like psilocybin.

The show of canvases, prints, original blotter art and a multi-sensory virtual reality experience was organised by  The Psychedelic Society  which maintains that ‘conscious use of psychedelics can help create a more compassionate and joyful world through an appreciation of the unity and interconnectedness of all things’. 

The Immersive: A Psychedelic Art Fair, staged at their based in Homerton, showed the wide range of art available under the label as well as a multi-sensory virtual reality experience by CyberRabbit, a ‘cyberdelic’ collective project.

Traditional canvas and print art included works by established artist Emma Watkinson, as well as illustratior and designer Joey Baker and black light artist Vinni Kiniki.

The Psychedelic Society, which started four years ago, promotes safe use of psychedelics, as well as campaigning for the UK government to reschedule psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in ‘magic mushrooms’, for treatment of anxiety and depression.  Psilocybin is currently an illegal class A schedule one drug, which makes it difficult to study.

There are currently small-scale trials running of its use in treating mood disorders, such as depression, by King’s College London’s Centre for Affective Disorders and Imperial College Medicine faculty’s Psychedelic Research Group.

Cherece John, organizer of the Immersive: A Psychedelic Art Fair. Pic: Dina Nagapetyants

“The main aim of the Psychedelic Society is to get psychedelics re-scheduled for medicinal research purposes,” said Cherece John, one of the event’s organisers.  

“Obviously, we know recreational use is probably far, far away in the future, so we’re being realistic about the goals now.” 

The Society also has close links with the psychedelic research teams at Imperial and King’s College London, and frequently hosts events, workshops and talks, as well as popular ‘psychedelic experience retreats’ in the Netherlands.  

Prints of artwork by Emma Watkinson. Pic: Dina Nagapetyants

John organised the one day event this month with the help of Alana Bloom, another member and plans to put on another art show in the New Year.   

John, 23, a Sussex University psychology graduate whose dissertation was on psychedelics and mindfulness, became involved with the society last September.  She said: “I am really enthusiastic when it comes to psychedelics and the benefits of them”, but emphasised that people wishing to experiment did so safely in a calm, positive environment.   

People’s own experiences with psychedelics served as the inspiration for the art on display which often featured bright colours and intricate patterns. 

As John described the other-worldly visual effects of the drug DMT, artist Joey Baker observed of his paintings: “It’s not even my vision, they’re just out there.”   

Pulse, by Joey Baker

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