Directed By
Edward Lawrenson, Pia Borg
Matter of Fact Shorts

Abandoned Goods

Abandoned Goods is a short essay film about power, freedom of expression, outsider art, history, psychiatry, architecture and asylum life. It tells the story of the Adamson Collection, one of the major bodies of Asylum Art. The collection contains about 5,500 objects created between 1946-1981 by around 140 people compelled to live in Netherne; a British psychiatric hospital. Having been neglected in poor storage conditions for 15 years, inside a disused shower closet at a south London hospital, the works are now being recognized as important historical artefacts and outstanding pieces of ‘outsider art’. The film captures a pivotal moment in the life of these artworks as they are moved from the hospital to various internationally renowned museums, art galleries and archives. Shot on 35mm, 16mm and high definition digital video, the film charts the journey of the objects, exploring the changing contexts in which the Adamson collection were produced and displayed. The film approaches the objects as signifiers of the progress of mental health care over the 20th century, beginning with an evocation of austere asylum life in which early works were produced and when practices such as ECT and containment, via the use of straightjackets, were employed on patients. In 1946, the hospital’s superintendent opened a research art studio with the primary aim to encourage patients to make work for diagnostic purposes; but the studio soon became a space for free creative expression in which nearly 100,000 pieces were made, a small fraction of which survives today.

In the Portrait of an Artist program.

Sunday, July 19 at 7:45PM in DeBoest Lecture Hall (IMA) Wednesday, July 22 at 11:00AM in DeBoest Lecture Hall (IMA)