Born in 1923, Mary Barnes was a painter who produced work prolifically, bequeathing much of her collection to her friend and psychiatrist Joseph Berke (“Boo Bah”). The Nunnery Gallery is showing this unique collection for the first time, exactly 50 years since she arrived in Bow and stayed at the legendary Kingsley Hall.
Mary Barnes started to paint at the age of 42, when she moved into Kingsley Hall under the care of RD Laing and his team who expounded the “Anti-Psychiatry” movement. RD Laing set up an alternative community within Kingsley Hall and allowed Mary Barnes to explore her diagnosed schizophrenia through writing and painting, and without medication. She wrote a book with Joseph Berke called “Two Accounts of a Journey Through Madness” which inspired the play Mary Barnes by David Edgar (Royal Court, 1978).
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