Skip to main content
Book cover: Outsider Inpatient. Reflections on Art as Therapy
Photo: Val Denham

Considering the value of art and creativity within psychiatric environments

The new book "Outsider Inpatient. Reflections on Art as Therapy" is an anthology of perspectives about the value of art and creativity within psychiatric environments. It specifically shines the light on experiences at Lillhagen Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, where patients were allowed to paint and decorate the entire walls of long corridors in the basements of the hospital.

The book also include contains contributions discussing creativity in general from clinicians, art historians, psychoanalysts, and artists. What constitutes “outsider” art? How can creativity be used in the treatment of (in)patients? Why do certain artists create the way they do, and how does it affect them? Outsider Inpatient is an informative study about a topic that has created as much controversy and criticism as it has support and adherents, in environments as diverse as clinical psychiatry and psychology, art theory, social sciences, psychoanalysis and philosophy.

The book is a result of a collaboration between the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies (CCHS) Heritage and Wellbeing research cluster and established artists Stefan Karlsson and Inez Edström who run art studios within psychiatric inpatient care at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden.

It is wonderful that this book has been published, says Elisabeth Punzi (Coordinator for the CCHS Heritage and Wellbeing cluster). The attention that followed the work Stefan, me and Inez did to acknowledge the paintings at Lillhagen has contributed to naming a street at the new residential area "Lillhagsparken" Kulverskonstensväg, which could be translated to “the basement painting's road”. I am so happy that the patients and their artwork, as well as the humanistic approaches toward patients, are remembered and noticed in this way. I am also happy for all the contributions, not least from artist Val Denham who has collaborated with and made album covers for some of my favorite artists.

Photo showing Lillhagen murals, painted by patients
From the murals at Lillhagen
Photo: Jenny Högström Berntson

The book has been produced by Trapart Books in cooperation with the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies at the University of Gothenburg, and contains texts by Elisabeth Punzi, Per Magnus Johansson, Johannes Nordholm, Inez Edström, Christian Munthe, Carl Abrahamsson, Vanessa Sinclair, and Val Denham.