Fenna Berry

We were recently contacted by Fenna Berry. Loving what we saw, we took time to go through her tumblr page. What we found astounded us – not only for the sheer amount of work on show – but for how accomplished the various styles and mediums are. From fine art painting, Manga-influenced comic narratives, design, to traditional and contemporary illustration. We urge you to not only look at our favourite selections here, but also take a look for yourself at Fenna’s tumblr page – she’s a ball of pure creative energy.

“I am Fenna, a conceptual/expressionist/surrealist artist, born in the USA in 1995. I am a self taught artist living with schizophrenia, using art as an outlet for therapy. I consider myself disabled because of my diagnosis, and do not work or go to school.

I make art nearly every day. It is one of the only activities that makes me feel safe and keeps me from panic. I truly cannot use my words to emphasise the importance of this. I’m not the best at saying stuff without specifically being asked questions  on specific things. I do not plan what I make, it just happens. Then I look and say “Wow, look at that” and repeat the process forever.

I currently reside in central Texas. Most of my works are made using surrealist techniques such as automatism. They are created with a highly personal concept in mind.”




“My name is John Jennings. I am a practising painter, I live in south west London with my wife and art has been my life since the age of fifteen, although I have remained on the margins of the art world.

I scored a mental health double whammy, having had a sister with paranoid schizophrenia, during my childhood and teenage years, and then myself being diagnosed with manic depressive disorder in my early thirties. I have been in continuous treatment since. My experiences of living with mental health in the home, as a child, and, later, in the community have been painful and isolating.

I joined Outside In in 2012 which was a lifeline. They provided me with an online gallery, and opportunities to show some of my work in public through Bobby Baker’s Daily Life Ltd light box shows in 2014 and 2016. I have also taken part in several `In Practise’ slide shows through the RA Access programme. I also became an art workshop facilitator with Outside In and have done workshops in Chichester and London.

I don’t identify myself as an `outsider artist’, I did a fine art degree in my late thirties, but I am an `outsider’ who is obsessively driven to paint.

I am a colourist and I love paint. For me, colour and paint goes beyond words in expressing life. I hope you enjoy my paintings, the ones shown here represent some current work from 2013 to the present.”


Paintings & Words by Sarah Tansey

Sarah Tansey is an artist, writer, burlesque art model and cabaret dancer. She’s also a single mum to an eighteen year old, who found herself in the clutches of paranoid schizophrenia when her son was just nine months old. Waiting until he was an adult to tell her story, Sarah has published a short, cutting, insight into her life at the time.

The book is illustrated with Sarah’s paintings, and she tells me, “The artwork in the book is all mine – I use it as part of my recovery, when I have my ‘blips’. I consider my artwork to be expressionist/abstract. I work in all sorts of mediums, whatever I feel like learning at that time. Learning is such a great thing to do to boost those brain cells! I am currently working on a seascape.”

Image gallery at the end of this post, below book information. Thank you Sarah for sending us your book, and telling us about you.

Book Information:
“By the Light of the Silvery Moon is an open and honest account of developing and living with paranoid schizophrenia.”

“An ordinary girl arrives in London in the 1990s with unclear aspirations but with a determination to enjoy life. Following a turbulent relationship, which includes the heavy use of recreational drugs, the writer develops paranoid schizophrenia. This is her story, told with humour and insight, a story of coping with the disease, and meeting the challenges of raising a son. Told with warmth and insight, By the Light of the Silvery Moon shows that there is hope and a future for those suffering with schizophrenia. The story is interspersed with photographs of the author’s paintings completed as a component of art therapy.”

Available here.

Update from Bethlem Gallery

On the 19th of February, The Bethlem Gallery and Museum will open the doors to a new, state of the art building which will be home to the Bethlem Gallery, Bethlem Museum of the Mind and Bethlem archives.

Below is a summary of the first three exhibitions taking place in the building.

Bethlem Museum of the Mind’s Permanent Collection.

A selection of around 1,000 art works including works by former Bethlem patients such as Jonathan Martin, Richard Dadd and Louis Wain

Bryan Charnley: The Art of Schizophrenia

Bringing together works from the Bethlem collection and many rarely seen works from the Estate of Bryan Charnley, this exhibition looks back at Charnley’s life and work.

Where is the Work in a Work of Art?

What kind of work goes into making a work of art? This exhibition will reveal the processes, structures and systems behind the art of a diverse group of artists who are connected to the Bethlem Gallery. We’ll be asking how does identity play a role in the making and reception of an artwork and how are artists enabled to do what they do?

About Bethlem

Bethlem Royal Hospital was founded in 1247 and was the first institution in the UK to specialise in the care of the mentally ill. The hospital continues to provide in-patient care as part of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and is a provider of mental health and substance misuse services for people locally and specialist services for people from across the U.K. For more information on our services please visit: www.slam.nhs.uk

1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year. This is the most commonly quoted statistic, and the one which has the most research evidence to support it – www.mind.org.uk

Around 300 people out of 1,000 will experience mental health problems every year in Britain 230 of these will visit a GP 102 of these will be diagnosed as having a mental health problem 24 of these will be referred to a specialist psychiatric service

6 will become inpatients in psychiatric hospitals.

For more information visit: bethlemgallery.com | bethlemmuseumofthemind.org.uk

Ali Fisher

“I suffer from mental illness myself and am still in the services since 1996. I am now 36 years old and have used art to cope with my illness of schizoaffective disorder.

Here is some of my art done in oil, acrylic and charcoal. This painting is called ‘A soul of entrapment’, hence the fist grasping hold of that fine line of light between reality and unreality, the soul going upwards towards the lighter side, the more positive.

This next picture is done in charcoal. I call that one ‘Judgement’, as the life after death, as you can see the skeleton bowing in front of his judge, whether to accept him as a angel into the next life.

This final one I call ‘Hope’, after suffering from psychosis. It was a dream so I decided to paint that dream, and that is done in oil paint. As you can see the hand reaching for the light, guess you can say the light at the end of the tunnel, as I was trying to block out the voices.

Hope you enjoy.”

Adolf Wölfli on World Mental Health Day

It’s World Mental Health Day, a day celebrated to raise awareness to end the stigma of mental health disorders and difficulties. On a day like today, I don’t want to spaff on about campaigns and statistics or what WMHD means to me. I’m going to use it as a means to tag this post, so people can find this blog, and find all the wonderful art in its pages, created by people who all use mental health services. I’m also a mental health service user, and an artist, but I get plenty of exposure for my art. Instead I want to talk about art and artists I like, in particular, Adolf Wölfi.

I love outsider art. It’s my favourite thing, along with folk art. Adolf Wölfli was an outsider artist associated with the Art Brut movement. He came from Bern, Switzerland. He was treated badly in his very young years, being both physically and sexually abused. He was an orphan and he got pushed from one foster home to another. Not an easy life, and it had hardly even started.

Wölfli didn’t start to draw until his admission to the Waldau Clinic, Bern, in 1895. He had been a farm labourer, and was briefly in the army, before his admission TO Waldau, however he had also been convicted of attempted child molestation and also spent some time serving a prison sentence. After his release he was picked up again for a similar offence. It was at this point he was admitted to the asylum where he would spend the rest of his adult life.

This is when he began to draw. This is when Adolf Wölfli came to life. I want to focus on his art, not his admission to Waldau, or his jail time. If you want to read more about that, check out his Wiki page, and, if you can get your hands on a copy, the book published by one of the doctors at Waldau, ‘Ein Geisteskranker als Künstler (A Psychiatric Patient as Artist)’.

Wölfli produced a massive body of work over the course of his life in residence at the asylum. Here is some of that work, and I encourage you to buy this:

Martin Ramirez.

“Martín Ramírez (1895–1963) created nearly 300 drawings of remarkable visual clarity and expressive power within the confines of DeWitt State Hospital in northern California, where he resided the last 15 years of his life. Ramírez has been codified primarily as a “schizophrenic artist”; this project goes beyond the boundaries of Ramirez’s diagnosis of mental illness and considers the artistic quality and merit of his artwork. In this way, Ramirez’s works are understood—and appreciated—for the complex, multilayered drawings that they are. “Martin Ramirez,” the first major retrospective of the self-taught master in more than 20 years, features approximately 97 works on paper and is accompanied by a full-color catalog.”
-Brooke Davis Anderson, curator of the 2007 exhibition ‘Martin Ramirez’ at the American Folk Art Museum

For more information on the exhibition and Ramirez’s work please visit the American Folk Art Museum.