First published: Summer 2015
In soothing, rural grounds, a few miles southwest of Münster, western Germany, is a psychiatric and psychotherapeutic hospital that contains the buildings of the Kunsthaus Kannen studios, gallery and workshop.
Since 1887, the hospital has been owned by the Alexian Brothers – an apostolic Catholic Order whose Brothers undertake vows and dedicate themselves to care for “the sick, the aged, the unloved, the unwanted, the poor, and the dying”. The practising of these vows has led to the specialisation of the hospital in the treatment of and therapies for people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities.
Klaus Mücke at work in Atelierplatz, Kunsthaus Kannen, 2015, photo by Ralf Emmerich
When long-term patients of the hospital started spontaneously creating art, staff encouraged the art-making, as has been seen in many hospitals in the twentieth century. Since the early 1980s, the staff have supported and promoted this creativity, going on to develop the studio and gallery spaces. By October 2000, this embracing of art and expression had led to a national acknowledgement from the German government: the official recognition of “Model Project Community for Handicapped Artists”.
With the ongoing financial support of the Alexian Brothers and the regional Welfare Trust of NRW, Kunsthaus Kannen has continued to flourish. People from the hospital community with psychiatric illnesses and special learning needs have access to fifteen spaces across three studios for painting and drawing, covering 620 square metres. In the studios, they can express themselves artistically and further their own development with the support and supervision of trained art therapists. There is also the opportunity to meet and work with artists from other studios in workshops, to enhance their own experience and expand their personal horizons. An art archive in the grounds provides space for the workshops, as well as for project work, conferences and lectures on art and psychiatry, outsider art and art brut.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #87