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Adamson Collection in London

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15 May – 25 July, 2017

Mr A Moves in Mysterious Ways: Selected Artists from the Adamson Collection displays selected works by eight people, chosen for their distinctive visual styles and particular histories.

The Adamson Collection is one of the world’s largest collections of artworks made by psychiatric patients. It consists of approximately 6,000 paintings, drawings and sculptural objects, produced between 1946 and 1981 by the residents of Netherne, a long-stay British mental hospital, under the guidance of Edward Adamson.

Adamson (1911-1996) was initially engaged to assist with research into the relationship between mental illness and creativity: as a professional artist, his job was to encourage the patients to paint, with the resulting works transferred to clinicians for analysis. After the study ended in 1951, Adamson established an open studio where residents were allowed to come and paint freely. He rejected the diagnostic focus of the earlier experiments, convinced that the very process of art making was therapy enough, and that creative expression could be a tool to help people find their way back to wellness.

This exhibition presents these eight individuals as artists, rather than as un-named and undifferentiated psychiatric patients, and framing their objects as artworks, the exhibition highlights the aesthetic, personal and historical dimensions of the collection, whilst remaining sensitive to its medical and therapeutic contexts.

Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck, School of Arts
43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD