Art and Madness
June 15 2015
This presentation focusses upon our longstanding interest in creativity and mental illness by tracing the origins of the use of art both diagnostically and therapeutically in the mental health care. I will refer to key people, places and episodes that shaped the current significant interest in the art of outsiders. Clinicians such as Dr WAH Browne from the Crichton Royal Institution in Dumfries who pioneered the use of art as therapy in the 1800s, Edward Adamson’s pivotal role in establishing art as healing in British asylums from the 1940s, and Joe Berke and RD Laing in the 1960s, who encouraged the free expression of Mary Barnes at Kingsley Hall. Along the way artists such as Jean Dubuffet, Roland Penrose and Julian Trevelyan engaged with art and madness, thus changing the course of art history by acknowledging the importance of mental health in artistic expression.
Victoria Tischler curated the 2013 exhibition ‘Art in the Asylum: Creativity and the Evolution of Psychiatry’, the subject of a forthcoming text. She is a trustee for the Adamson Collection Trust, a major collection of art accumulated by the forefather of art therapy- Edward Adamson. She is currently researching the impact of creative activities on the health and wellbeing of people with dementia.