Many of us have already discovered the benefits of art in our lives, whether as an artist or an appreciative viewer. On our recent visit to Provence we visited the hospital in St Remy where Vincent Van Gogh spent a year from 1889-1890 after suffering a major breakdown. I spent quite a while there taking photos and absorbing the atmosphere in such a serene setting.
While being confined, Van Gogh converted a nearby cell into a studio, and even though he still suffered attacks, he produced 150 paintings during his year-long stay at St Remy. Initially Van Gogh was confined to a room where he painted the world around him, deleting the bars which obscured his view.
In the asylum's walled garden he was able to see a beautiful array of flowers and subject matter, including the stunning irises.
Later Van Gogh was able to venture farther afield, and he painted the wheatfields, olive groves, and cypress trees of the surrounding countryside.
One of the more recognised paintings from this period is
From the beautiful gardens it was easy to see his inspiration ...
Vincent Van Gogh said of his time there "I feel happier here with my work than I could be outside. By staying here a good long time, I shall have learned regular habits and in the long run the result will be more order in my life."
The hospital is still used for patients with severe depression and it was good to hear that art is used as therapy for these patients. There is a shop within the grounds which sells artwork produced by the patients - with proceeds going to the artist and the hospital.
I wasn't keen on visiting an asylum on my travels but the Saint Paul Asylum in St Remy was a very inspirational place to visit - lots of light and colour and beautiful subjects within the grounds to get the creative juices flowing .. and hopefully still brings solace, comfort and inspiration to those residing in this amazing place.
Starry starry night ....