A short essay film about the collection of artworks created by patients detained in Netherne psychiatric hospital between 1946 and 1981 has won a prestigious award at a film festival in Switzerland.
Abandoned Goods, partly funded by Maudsley Charity, claimed the Golden award for Best International Short Film at the 67th Festival del film Locarno - the world's leading amateur film festival.
The film is narrated by British writer and filmmaker, Iain Sinclair, who comments on key works in the collection and provides a glimpse into the lives of their creators. Netherne Hospital was a former county asylum based near Croydon which held up to 2,000 patients at its peak.
The hospital had a reputation for pioneering treatment in mental health including the first-ever art studio for mental health patients, run by Edward Adamson. Today approximately 5,500 pieces survive, assembled together as the Adamson Collection, one of the major bodies of British ‘asylum art’.
Abandoned Goods was produced by Kate Ogborn and Lisa Marie Russo with the help of the Chair of the Adamson Collections Trust, Dr David O’Flynn, and financial support from Maudsley Charity and the Wellcome Trust.
Consultant Psychiatrist Dr O’Flynn said: "I am thrilled that this film has received such international recognition at its first screening. [Directors] Ed [Lawrenson] and Pia [Borg] have made a film which is beautiful, intelligent, challenging. They have captured the complexity of the works in the Adamson Collection: as clinical material, historical artefacts, works of art."
Impression of post-war asylum life
Blending archive, reconstruction, photography, interviews and observational footage, the film explores the objects in the Adamson Collection, examining the lives of the creators and the changing contexts in which the objects were produced and displayed, to provide a moving impression of the unseen history of post-war asylum life in the UK.
Dr David Blazey, Head of Grants from Maudsley Charity, said: “We’re delighted to hear that the film has won this award, which recognises the work of talented independent artists. Maudsley Charity supported the Adamson Festival as a way of highlighting the work of Adamson and the importance of art therapy in mental and physical health.
“It is an excellent opportunity to tell the story of the life and work of Adamson who was the first art therapist recognised by the National Health Service. This is a great example of how the charity can help to fund interesting, innovative and worthwhile projects.”
Find out how you can order the book by visiting www.slam.nhs.uk/adamson