A tour of works by Mary Barnes in the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre store, led by Dr Anthony Lewis, curator of Scottish History, Glasgow Life Museums.
Mary Barnes was resident at R. D. Laing’s therapeutic community, a radical experiment in anti-psychiatry, at Kingsley Hall from 1965-1970. Her artwork demonstrates the radical potential of creativity to support recovery from mental illness.
At Kingsley Hall, Barnes was encouraged to regress to a child-like state to ‘live through’ her psychosis and recover from mental illness. Barnes was supported by Dr Joseph Berke, an American psychoanalyst. They developed a strong bond, and it was Berke who encouraged her creative practice, instructing her to scribble on the walls of Kingsley Hall.
Barnes became a prolific artist, primarily using her fingers to apply paint to canvas, wallpaper backing paper, and found objects. Most of the work on display was produced in the last decade of her life when she resided in Scotland.
The themes of crucifixion, resurrection, and her deep connection to nature feature, linked to her rebirth and recovery, and the sense of belonging she found in her adopted Scottish homeland.
This event is part of Rebirth & Revolution: the Life and Legacy of Mary Barnes, open from 6-21 October at The ARC, University of Glasgow.
Rebirth & Revolution: The Life and Legacy of Mary Barnes is presented in partnership with the Falkland Estate, the University of Glasgow, the University of Surrey, and the Wellcome Collection.