Broach Schizophrene

Oil on Canvas, 1983. In the collection of the Bethlem Museum of the Mind.

The bondage head portrayed here appears to be feminine as the broach, the long hair and slender feminine neck all seem to suggest. Beginning in the section above the nose, the eyes, sometimes referred to as the windows of the soul are literally represented as such. The curtains are being drawn open onto a wide flat landscape traversed by an empty road below a grey sky. The arm is perhaps that of a lonely person who communicates through writing, this may be indicated by the quill pen which has other connotations and links to the image of a microphone stuck into the brain, an unsparing depiction of what Bryan Charnley referred to as “thought broadcasting” the paranoid conviction that one’s inner thoughts can be seen. As Charnley observes: “If this is the case, what becomes of thinking?” The foot prints in the snow and the marks left by the bird’s wings, The need to keep up his spirits, whistling in the wind, the faulty motor bike which the artist tried to unsuccessfully to repair, all are personal symbols which build up to express the bleak yet intense inner life of the artist and by inference, of all sufferers of mental distress. The landscape behind is of the Embankment which runs beside the River Ouse in Bedford. The bridge depicted is a decorative cast iron footbridge built in 1888, a very recognisable feature of the river.