Nottingham exhibition 'Art in the Asylum'

The evolution of artistic activity in British psychiatric institutions is to be explored through a new exhibition. 'Art in the Asylum: Creativity and the Evolution of Psychiatry' is being held at the Djanogly Art Gallery, Lakeside Arts Centre, University Park in Nottingham between 7 September and 3 November.

Curated by Art Historian Dr Esra Plumer and Dr Victoria Tischler, a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Professor in Behavioural Sciences at the Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology, University of Nottingham. This free exhibition is the first to look at activity of this type from the early 1800s to the 1970s and aims to portray how creative activities have influenced the treatment of mental disorders as part of a more humane regime.

Influential figures and key institutions involved in the history of British mental health care are highlighted in the exhibition, which has been put together with the help of more than 100 loans from national and international archives.

There is also an emphasis on the influence of continental psychiatry on practices in Britain, with artworks by patients under the care of notable psychiatrists included.  

Dr Victoria Tischler said: "The exhibition aims to show how art was used both diagnostically and therapeutically in the care of those with mental illness, influencing the development of humane treatment. 

"This includes the earliest use of art at the Dumfries Royal Institution.  The resulting work has not been shown outside Scotland before now. It also explores the pioneering work of Edward Adamson, the 'grandfather of art therapy' and the acceptance of art by patients into  mainstream exhibitions to be shown alongside that of Surrealist artists. 

"The exhibition is accompanied by a series of events which raise awareness of historical and modern issues about mental healthcare and connections between creativity and madness."

The gallery is open Monday to Saturday 11am-5pm and Sunday 12pm-4pm. See the exhibition flyer for more details.