The visit to the Shirehall study centre proved a great success and an inspiration to all participants. We have to thank Ruth Battersby Took for providing us with many different exhibits which made it a fascinating morning.
The museum has some strong clothing from St Andrews hospital, Ruth showed us this dress which possibly dates from the 1940’s and is designed so that the person wearing could not take it off.
We also saw two watercolours and a drawing by the celebrated artist and Master of Drawing at Norwich School of Art John Joseph Cotman. John Joseph had several admissions to St Andrews. Ruth then showed us tapestry designed by Thomas Jeckyll who suffered from mental ill health all his life and died in the Bethel Hospital Norwich. He is now celebrated throughout the world as an Architect and designer and pioneer of the Aesthetic Movement.
The last two exhibits we were shown I think completed the morning in an outstanding way. Firstly Lorina Bulwer’s extraordinary embroidered letters that were made while she was a patient on the ‘lunatic ward’ of the Great Yarmouth Workhouse. This letter is 12 ft long and could be described as a long ‘tweet’ circa 1901. In the letter Lorina expresses her frustration with her situation she ‘names and shames’ those she feels are responsible. A lot of what she says appears to be ‘delusional’ but there many of her stories have basis in fact. A full transcription of the letter can be read here. https://frayedtextilesontheedge.wordpress.com/links/
Finally we were shown John Craskes embroidery of the evacuation of Dunkirk.
Craske who had suffered ill health for most of his life started to make embroideries as it was difficult for him to carry on painting as he was confined to bed, he had painted pictures of ships and the sea obsessively from when he was no longer able to work as a Fisherman he had been a regular patient at St Andrews Hospital. This was the last piece of embroidery he made and he died before being able to complete it, hence the space you can see in the top right hand corner of the photograph
The 2nd cohort to start the change Minds programme have now done 7 sessions. The focus has been on getting to know the Archive of St Andrews and participants initially selected a person each from casebook 271 and a starting point for their research. As the term has gone on different paths from these starting points are being followed, which is going to lead to a wealth of diverse outcomes.
This first term has gone quickly with highlights being the visit to the Shirehall and a visit to the project from M.P. Norman Lamb.