In the 1940s psychiatrists and psychoanalysts began to recognise the therapeutic value of art as both a creative outlet and a significantly useful means of conveying states of mind. This led to artists being invited directly to work with patients in hospitals and other clinical establishments.
Art and Addiction Treatment
Castle Craig introduced a dedicated art facility surrounded by beautiful countryside in January 2009 and invited me as a professional artist to design and implement an ongoing six-week programme for resident patients at the hospital.
The outcome of this programme has been extremely successful and far-reaching with many patients continuing to use art as a creative outlet after leaving treatment.
From week one, patients are introduced to myriad ways of working with the materials provided. There is also an educational element to the course, with an introduction to artists dating from the 1900’s to the present day. Tutorage covers demonstration techniques and a wide variety of mark making suggestions, ranging from free, expressive, bold mark-making to more methodical and structured approaches.
In effect a creative recipe book is offered, giving infinite possibilities, and although the outline task suggested each week is the same for each patient, the outcomes are as individual as the patients and their circumstances and moods.
The carefully thought-out exercises offer patients a new means of expression, unbound by language in which the unconscious is brought forward, enabling new insights as well as a sense of relaxation and achievement.
Patients involved in these creative activities often report increased self-esteem and self-awareness. My own methodologies for facilitating creative expression are clearly evident in these paintings produced by patients with little or no painting experience.
Insights into the Mind
As a practicing artist, I am constantly looking for new ways of working and try to encourage a free-thinking and liberated approach for attendees to the art group. I am constantly amazed by the work that patients produce and the relationship between the outcome and the person’s state of mind. Henri Matisse once remarked that ‘drawing and painting is the direct and purest translation of my emotion’. A range of art books, including Matisse of course, are available at the group.
Our programme is constantly moving forward and we are currently implementing an ongoing rota exhibition of patients’ work in and around the hospital. You can read more about the programme here. You can also see further works from our patients on the Art Group’s Facebook page.