Adamson Collection Trust

The Adamson Collection Trust (ACT) was founded in 1978 to promote the life and work of Edward Adamson, the future of the Adamson Collection and research into art as therapy. ACT has been maintained by unpaid volunteers - until recently all friends or associates of Edward Adamson.  From 1997 to 2010, the charity had employed a curator for three and a half hours a week. 

The Adamson Collection catalogue rasionné (work in progress). Tracing and identifying all the Collection objects around South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, trustees' present and past homes, and the wider diaspora of objects in, for example, the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, the Dax Centre in Melbourne and the recently found paintings at the Bethlem Archives and Museum. 

The Adamson Collection can be seen as three elements:

  • About 2500 paintings and drawings by about 180 people - which are the core of the Collection. These have been temporarily relocated to the Wellcome Library, in anticipation of an eventual donation by ACT.  
  • The Rolanda Polanska oeuvre of about 2500 drawings, about 25 small to medium sized sculptures and her masterpiece ‘Stations of the Cross’. Her drawings are also temporarily relocated to the Wellcome, but the future of the oeuvre is uncertain: ACT is having discussion with the Museum of the Mind and the Polonska family.
  • 500 small sculptures (ceramics and works on stone, flint and bone). A few may go to Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne – most will remain at SLaM

The Edward Adamson Archive at the Wellcome Library (currently being catalogued): All known documents, photographs, videos and films, and other records related to Adamson and the Adamson Collection Trust have been collected.

Exploring a multidisciplinary gaze:

We view the objects as having complex meanings. They are, at once, historical artefacts, works of art, and clinical / therapeutic material.

Having not been exhibited outside SLaM for almost a decade, the Collection has re-emerged in two major exhibitions this year: 'Art in the Asylum', a medico-historical survey, and ‘Raw Vision’, a celebration of outsider art.

At the "Art in the Asylum" exhibition in Nottingham, a number of iconic paintings and sculptures from the Adamson Collection were exhibited as a central part of this major survey of the evolution of art and psychiatry.

Adamsonc Fig .2

‘The Kitten’. Creator’s name behind frame. Courtesy of ACT.

'Retaliation’. Courtesy of ACT.

Follow a link to a short film outlining the themes of the exhibition and images from the opening on 6th September 2013 at Djanogly gallery, Nottingham. Featuring curators Victoria Tischler and Esra Plumer here.

At Raw Vision at the Halle Saint Pierre in Paris, eight drawings given to Edward Adamson in 1946 by a man on a locked ward at Netherne are being shown. Five are on toilet paper with the char from burnt matches, and three on hospital library flyleaf paper with nurses' blue pencil. Previously very rarely exhibited, and never as a group, they have been received in Paris as newly discovered masterpieces of art brut. 

Fig .3  
Three ‘J J Beegan toilet paper drawings’. Courtesy of ACT.  
Fig .4  
Installation of J J Beegan drawings at Halle Saint Pierre, September 2013



In 2016 David O'Flynn was interviewed by the Community Channel for 'My brilliant moment' in the interview he talks about the work of the Adamson Collection.

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