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Issue 474, 3 December 2001

Art and minds create unique exhibition

Works of art created by patients at Rampton secure hospital are getting their first public viewing in a unique collaboration between the hospital and the University.

Bretton Hall fine art lecturer and project leader John Holt (pictured left with student Victoria Allen) said: "It's the first time that a secure hospital such as Rampton has opened itself to this kind of project. Their patients are some of the most demonised people in our society, yet they offer amazing insights into the process of human creativity."

The Art and Mind project involved two symposia, one in the hospital, and one in the gallery where the exhibition was on show. At Rampton, three students presented their work to the patient-artists. The text of their discussions forms part of the exhibition, placing the works of art in an informed and informing context.

Arts and education student Victoria Allen said: "The experience was incredibly moving and very profound. The work by the patient-artists is so raw, so untouched by other influences that it makes you reassess everything you do yourself. It's very humbling."

The second symposium brought together art teachers and art and psychotherapeutic experts from within the hospital and nationally, together with experts in 'outsider art' to discuss the artistic process in self-realisation, with the images and text from the patients as central to the discussion.

Raw art – 'Jesus and the clowns' pictured above, and below 'Innerself'

"This exhibition isn't for those who simply seek beauty in art. It's a series of snapshots, of journeys through minds, as the patient-artists search for a deeper understanding of themselves," said John Holt. "This is art produced, not by the prompting of others, or for an audience, but because of an inner necessity. It shows the power of art to transform and heal the fractured and dislocated mind."

The exhibition will tour to Kendal, Keighley, Milton Keynes and London. The images and text are to be published as a book, and video footage of the second symposium and the exhibition will be shown to the patient-artists at the hospital.

John Holt said: "We hope that Art and Mind will open debates on the value and achievements of the arts within mental health institutions. But self-realisation isn't exclusive to people with mental health problems it's an important process for us all."



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