First published: Summer 2013
The paintings and drawings of Patrick Joyce are worlds unto themselves, full of bright primary colours, populated by strange people and animals, as well as buildings, cars, roads and trees with human qualities. The images are full of life and movement, showing a world that is constantly on the go and in flux. This is in marked contrast to the actual world that Patrick inhabits: the Bracton Centre (Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust), on a rehabilitation ward in a medium secure psychiatric hospital.
I first met Patrick when I was running a video and animation project on the ward six years ago. He was one of the most regular members of the group, even though he was more interested in drawing than animation: “I half see things – shapes in the trees that look like cartoon characters”. His engagement in his work was intense, infectious, vivid, slightly obsessive; his enthusiasm irrepressible but his need for approval and reassurance constant.
He asked me not to tell the doctors about his drawings as he feared they would be misunderstood as part of a psychotic vision (even though he did not have a diagnosis of psychosis). I said that I understood that the drawings come from his imagination, and not from an illness. This seemed to reassure him and enable him to be far more open about his work. I took in a book on Surrealism and Dada to show him as he had no access to art books or any outside influences. When he looked through it he said, “Other people make work like I do”, as if he had at last found a community of people like him. He had never heard of Surrealism or Dada, or any other art movement. He was born in Manchester to Irish travellers, had never been to school and has had no education. He started making work in 2008 and since then has not stopped.
Patrick is determined to to make his way in the art world. Since 2008 he has gone from showing his work in a gallery in Dartford to showing in Pallant House Gallery, Tate Modern and more recently at the Museum of Everything show in Paris and a few years ago in Selfridges, as well as winning several Koestler art awards. Discussing his work, he describes how he sees things as if out of the corner of his eye and how this inspires him. He appears in all of his paintings, along with a cast of animals including wolves, dogs and foxes.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #79