Adamson at Netherne 1951 - 1981

Adamson continued to work alone with hundreds of people in his art studios after Dax left until his retirement in 1981.  He developed a ‘non-interventionalist’ approach to facilitate the act of creation: how not to influence, distort or impinge on self-expression was the artist's or therapist's primary concern.  His work exploring the possibilities of art as therapy was hugely influential. 

From the 1940s he was working with the pioneers of art therapy towards establishing Art Therapy as a profession.  In 1964 he was a founder member of the British Association of Art Therapists and briefly its first Chair.  In the early 1970s he was head of the first British art therapy training course at St. Alban's School of Art, now part of Hereford University. 

Though he was not at home with art therapy's move towards psychoanalysis in the 1970s, his work at the Netherne art studio, the Adamson Collection, his galleries at Netherne and Ashton Wold and his book, 'Art as Healing', are key documents for British Art Therapy.

Adamson believed passionately in exhibiting the work made in the studio as the Adamson Collection.  He saw this as educating the public about the creativity and humanity of those they had excluded in the asylums. 

Display, storage and buildings: Adamson Collection at SLaM. 1997 – 2012

At his memorial service SLaM’s Art Therapist, Alice Jackson, and the Adamson Collection Trust Secretary, Michael Freudenberg, arranged for the Collection to be moved to Lambeth Hospital.  About 500 works were displayed at Lambeth Hospital, Brixton Road Mental Health Centre and Lewin Road Mental Health Centre (now closed).

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'Adamson Collection in Reay House, Lambeth Hospital' 'Adamson Collection arriving at the Wellcome Library stacks, under Euston Road'

In 2000 SLaM named the new building at St Thomas hospital  the Adamson Centre for Mental Health - and another approximately hundred works were hung there. The rest of the Collection was stored in the Creative Arts Therapies office at Lambeth, and a disused shower room (about 4500 unframed paintings and drawings).

In a collaboration by Dr David O’Flynn, SLaM Consultant Rehabilitation Psychiatrist and Adamson Collection Trust Chair with the Wellcome Library, all drawings and paintings have been relocated there, to ensure their physical integrity, and in anticipation of a donation of the core 2500 paintings and drawings by ACT to the Wellcome Library. Approximately 100 of the paintings which had been on display at Lambeth Hospital will be photographed by the Wellcome Library, and these will be lent back to Lambeth Hospital by ACT for permanent display.

500 ceramics and the smaller sculptures are stored in a display room outside Nelson Ward in Oak House at Lambeth Hospital, and will stay with SLaM.

At the new Maudsley Learning Centre a large training room is the 'Adamson Suite' in honour of Edward Adamson to aspire future generations of mental health professionals. 

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Adamson Collection Sculptures Room outside Nelson Ward

Dr David O’Flynn, SLaM Consultant Rehabilitation Psychiatrist and Adamson Collection Trust Chair

17 November 2013

The Adamson Collection Trust

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