Gemma Anderson

Elsy, 2010


80cm x 70cm

Courtesy of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Gemma Anderson studied at the University of Ulster, before going on to obtain a BA (Hons) Fine Art Degree from Falmouth College of Art, and an MA in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art. Anderson's work reflects her interest in the relationship between art, science and philosophy, and she has collaborated on a number of important and innovative art / science projects. She is currently a Lecturer in Drawing at Falmouth University, an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, and a Drawing Research Associate for The Big Draw UK.

This work explores the history of forensic psychiatry and mental disorder through a series of portraits, which are etchings of doctors and patients in mental health settings. The patients represented suffered from mental health illnesses, many of whom were women. The series is a collaboration with the artist and psychiatrist Dr McIlnern and the works explore the internal worlds of psychiatric patients and their doctors, moving away from the written and traditional representations of mental illness. As part of her background research, the artist attended in-patient units to hear the stories of patients and discover the therapeutic process of rehabilitation. Early psychiatry was often pre-occupied with the appearance of individuals as a key to their morale and psychic inner world. The work is characterised by precise, painstaking detail, which is almost scientific in approach and aims to present the individual stories of those represented.