In the chair

Despite its prevalence, mental illness can be a taboo subject even in the arts. Throw in the subject of mentally ill offenders and the art world goes quite silent.

But next week an exhibition at the Freud Museum in London will be presenting the culmination of a groundbreaking project between illustrator and artist Gemma Anderson and forensic psychiatrist Dr Tim McInerny.

Portrait by Gemma Anderson
Portrait by Gemma Anderson

Dr McInerny is a consultant forensic psychiatrist works with mentally ill offenders in the fragile zone between medicine and the law. Anderson was given the opportunity to follow McInerny, attending in-patient units and speaking with community teams to discover the rehabilitation process.

Portrait by Gemma Anderson
Portrait by Gemma Anderson

The result is a series of portraits based on patients and a doctor that Anderson met during the project. Each has been etched in a number of pastel colours and attempts to explore the emotional anatomy of each sitter. The doctor in the group has not been identified so that the viewer treats each portrait equally.

Portrait by Gemma Anderson
Portrait by Gemma Anderson

Both Anderson and Dr McInerny will be discussing the project and issues surrounding the depiction of the mentally ill in art at the Freud Museum on 21 July.

Patients; Portraits and Psychiatrists runs from 7 July – 22 August at the Freud Museum, 20 Maresfield Garden, London NW3.

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