Week 4: Defining the Restraint

Following on from my previous blog, we visited the archives this week and documented every name, age, reason for admittance to the asylum and what their eventual outcome was. We wanted to document and archive these names and details in our own special way and are planning on using them as a foundation for our installation. The only dialogue or noise we plan to have in our final piece will be the sound of Lauren reading the names, ages, reasons and outcomes of each patient in turn, documenting them through voice and consequently in the memories of the actors and audience. It is simple, it is effective, it is actually quite beautiful and could not be more appropriate for the site we have chosen. Whilst also reading the log books in the archives, we came across two large log books of purely restraint methods, even titled ‘Restraint’. This is the key word to identify the Lawn with, and consequently we will begin exploring this concept of restraint, how to restrain, how far to take it and more importantly how can use it in our installation. Restraint methods at the Lawn included:


  • Belt
  • Hobbles (complex material cuffs)
  • Muff (putting hands in a big leather pocket)
  • Roller Towel – mastering violent
  • Waistcoat and lock with chain
  • Straight Jacket
  • Fastened to chair
  • Held down by hands in bed
  • Fastened by chain hand-links in bed
  • Fastened to bedstead – one hand
  • Fastened to bedstead – both hands
  • Fastened to bedstead – both hands and legs
  • Fastened to bedstead – both hands and head
  • Placed in the “Noisy Cell”


We wanted to experiment with the simple act of restraining each other in these ways but rather than pretending to be restrained or in some form of discomfort I want it to be real. The two actors who I will be restraining need to be truly restrained, pushed to the edge of what they are capable of handling so that they are actually having these feelings and sensations that the Lawn patients would have had therefore making our piece more sincere and real. However, we have to be careful not to make this an S&M piece of me tying up two girls. This is a physical exercise and to relate it firmly back to the site specific, the Lawn and the themes which it encompasses the only objects I will use will be from the site itself. Thus reinforcing the definition I provided in my opening blog that in site specific the “performance could not exist without the site”.

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