Page 5, 22nd October 1971

22nd October 1971
Page 5
Page 5, 22nd October 1971 — A woman's journey through madness S HE was standing by one

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Organisations: Philadelphia Association
Locations: London, Oxford


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A woman's journey through madness S HE was standing by one

of her paintings when arrived, talking about it to a couple of people. Relaxed, charming—wearing a crazy patchwork skirt below a bare midriff topped by a yellow halter.. Long dark hair falling below her shoulders. Portrait of the artist at her first Press reception. Talking to her, you get this feeling that she has plumbed depths you'll never know becauseyou simply haven't got her guts. From her paintings she switches to that skirt. "Look, it's full of memories: I made it from bits of everything at Kingsley Hall, "Here's a scrap from Francis Gillete's shirt, Here's a bit front a blouse that Karen used to wear. And a piece from a tablecloth in the dining room. And another piece, from curtains that Noel Cobb gave

me . ."

Mary Barnes, aged 48, is an artist and author. We were here at Claude Ctill's in Oxford

lisped by MacGibbon & Kee): Mary Bartres.-7'wo Accounts of a Journey Through Madness. Collaborating with her in the writing of it was Dr, Joseph Berke, psychotherapist from New Jersey.

it's quite impossible, listening to her, to believe that she suffered all that is told in the book Mary literally went completely insane. Or, in her own words, she "went down" and came up again.

Her story is terrible in its poignancy, in its realism, It all happened at Kingsley Hall, the community founded by R. D. Laing and his colleagues in the East End of London.

Her family life had never been happy. Even as a child, the seeds of mental disorder were apparent. And she found no way of communicating with her parents particularly her mother. She was 24 when she became a convert to the Catholic Faith.

At the Press reception met Fie. Grimersindo Grande, Sunerior of the Snanish Vin. At the time she was a nurse at Clare Hall Sanitarium at South Mimms. I erts.

I also met Sidney Briskin, one of the founder members of the celebrated Philadelphia Association. Sid is a social worker and psychologist, and was one of the small group, who helped pull Mary out of the hell she lived through.

The book isn't an easy one to read. It is frightening in its raw realism. Here is no gentle tale of a soul that drifted away from God and wallowed in self-pity. It is brutal—seething with sullen surges of -crazy violence and despair. Through it all runs the compassion. the deep, sensitive tenderness of Joe Berke.

Painting was part of Mary's therapy. She leapt into it. finding it an outlet for all her crazed searchings for answers to questions that torture all of us, in a greater or lesser degree. You study them and realise. at Once, that the same theme runs through each.

It wag n re.hirth a reciirrevr and Michael Bakewell as we examined them. Michael pin. pointed the personal urgency of Mary's message: "The truth is that we all need help. Not only Mary."

Michael and Diana have their own literary agency. They also present a weekly programme from Southwark Cathedral in aid of mental health. -Hie night before the reception Mary read excerpts from her hook on the programme.

Perhaps it was Joe Berke who said it best, at the end of the hook : "I don't think the label 'mad' does justice to Mary or. for that. matter. to any other person who may manifest himself in a way that a stranger would consider peculiar.

-Nothing that Mary experienced, nothing that she went through is far removed from what we all have to cope with in ourselves. hat Mary confronted her physical, psychic or spiritual demons may mean that she was just more in touch

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