Art in the Asylum Exhibition & new installation “Marat Sade Bohnice” by Althea Thauberger
Art in the Asylum: creativity and the evolution of psychiatry presents the first look at the evolution of artistic activity in British asylums from the early 1800s to the 1970s. Over nearly two centuries, the visual arts have played a significant part in the development of psychiatric treatment methods; a period coinciding with a time of great change in our understanding and treatment of mental disorder. With over 150 selected works from National and International collections, the exhibition traces the historical shift from invasive treatments which included psychosurgery, insulin coma therapy and restraint to a more humane regime in which creativity played a key part.
Featured work includes the earliest examples of art as therapy from the Crichton Royal Institution in Dumfries, pioneering work produced under the guidance of the ‘grandfather of art therapy’ Edward Adamson at the Netherne Hospital in Surrey, work by well-loved asylum artists from the Bethlem Royal such as Richard Dadd and Louis Wain, and the work of Mary Barnes created at Kingsley Hall, London, a therapeutic community established by R. D. Laing. We also include examples of asylum art that crossed over to the mainstream from the Dubuffet’s Collection de l’ Art Brut in Lausanne, the Musgrave Kinsley collection, and Tate.