Bedlam: the Asylum and Beyond


The Welcome Collection held an exhibition called ‘Bedlam, the Asylum and beyond‘ in London, from September 2016 to January 2017, this is the first exhibition we visited at the start of the Fine Art Degree in October 2016.


Bedlam Exhibition Drawing
Bedlam Exhibition Drawing by Karol

‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ was about the Bethlem Royal Hospital, looking into the historical material and medical records with individual testimonies and works by artists such as David Beales, Richard Dadd, Dora García, Eva Kotátková, Madlove: A Designer Asylum, Shana Moulton, Erica Scourti, Javier Téllez and Adolf Wölfli, their works represent the institution.


The part of the gallery that left the greatest impression on me was a film that was shown called ‘Abandoned Goods‘ written by Pia Borg & Edward Lawrenson.


Abandoned Goods Fly Film motherchildflintgwynethrowlands
Abandoned Goods Fly Film- artwork by Gwyneth Rowlands

The film is about how the mental institute Netherne psychiatric hospital, used art to help treat their patients from 1946 to 1981. There are 5,500 survived pieces of artworks of their patients and the film delved into these pieces and to talk about and meet their creators.


As the film was shown in a loop, I sat in awe at how useful art is to the human mind, people who are in utter torment and living in a maze of sadness and confusion are given an easel and paintbrush, and they, in the film, speak about how it changes them for the better, they start to have hope and see a way out of their difficulties. I took it for granted that art always brings me into a state of relaxation, calm and clarity, it’s the same feeling that is helping to set so many people free.

Through the years, art has become a sweet voice for so many people. What you cannot vocally say, use paper and paintbrush to do the work for you. No matter how bad your story, the colours, texture, and shapes you make on the page will help transfer the sadness or pain into art and healing you from the agony it’s caused.

I’m now on the journey to pursue art therapy and its fullest effect and usefulness, I’m even running art classes for adults once a month to give them a platform to set themselves free of day to day stress. I’ve always loved art and now that I’m beginning to understand how many lives are being changed because of it, I have a greater love and respect for it.

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