Art proves a life saver for patients

PUBLISHED: 15:56 24 February 2010 | UPDATED: 10:46 12 August 2010

FORMER mental health patients claim their art which features in a current exhibition, saved their lives.

FORMER mental health patients claim their art which features in a current exhibition, saved their lives.

Me Myself & I opened at Bethlem Royal Hospital in Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham, yesterday and runs until March 26.

The three featured artists, who have all been patients of Bethlem, use portraiture and self-portraiture to express their thought and experiences.

Sessions within the Occupational Therapy Department at the hospital helped develop their skills and Jonathan Lill, 42, from Battersea, claims he would be dead if she did not make art to communicate.

He said: "My first admission led me to being transferred to the Bethlem and while there I used the opportunity to make a figure. Only by using myself as a model was I able to accept how distorted my view of myself was and only when my consultant was advised to see my work, was it realised how far from reality I really was. Without that recognition, I wouldn't be alive today."

Lisa Biles claims art is the only form of communication she feels comfortable with. She said: "Having suffered from Anorexia Nervosa, I have constantly found it difficult to communicate with society.

"I chose to isolate myself and created my own world where I became powerful, victorious and in control - a place where no-one can hurt or poison my mind.

"The only way I can become indestructible is through painting. Painting is my life and my escape, I'd be extremely lost and frightened without it."

Dan Duggan, from Bromley, said: "I am a 36-year-old artist from south-east London with a long history of mental illness. My aim, through my work, is to investigate the face and its communications repeatedly.

"I have worked for 10 years on this same construct and have drawn comfort from the simple act of drawing."

The exhibition is open Wednesday to Fridays from 11am until 6pm.

n For more information visit www.bethlem

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