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Phantasmagoria: New Exhibition Explores Hallucinations in Art

A new exhibition opens at the Bethlem Gallery next week, exploring hallucinations in Surrealist paintings and drawings from the collection of the Bethlem Archives and Museum. Artworks, by Basil Beaumont, Herbrand Williams, Julian Trevelyan and others, were created as part of series of experiments at the Maudsley Hospital into the hallucinogenic effects of the drug mescaline in the late 1930s.

In the late 1930s two of the Maudsley doctors, Dr Eric Guttman and Dr the Hon Walter Maclay started a series of unprecedented experiments. In previous studies both doctors had noted that many patients suffering from schizophrenia wanted to make art in an attempt to ‘explain themselves’. However, they also noted that only a minority of patients had the capacity to translate their hallucinations into pictorial form. These findings led the doctors to invite professional artists from the Surrealist movement, who they believed shared their interests in the unconscious and irrational, to take part in experiments involving the drug mescaline. The results of these Mescaline hallucinations or ‘experimental psychosis’ are a vivid and revealing insight into the psychology of those involved.

All are welcome at the Opening Event, which takes place on Wednesday 25 August, from 3 - 6pm.

Exhibition continues: 26th August – 10th September Opening times: Wed, Thurs, Friday, 11am – 6pm (including Saturday 4th September 11am – 6pm, when the Archives and Museum will also be open) Address: The Bethlem Gallery, Bethlem Royal Hospital, Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3BX Travel: Nearest British Rail: Eden Park (or a short bus ride from East Croydon on route 119 or 194)