This book is a result of time spent as artist-in-residence at the Glenside Hospital Museum where I investigated an amazing spreadsheet on all the admissions to the Bristol Lunatic Asylum up to 1900. During the 1890s some people were photographed on admission, for what reason we do not know. These brush and ink portraits were done from the photographs.

Looking at these people and reading the spare notes on them in the spreadsheet is truly moving; they are people just like us. Working people, their lives were hard, some of them were desperate.  Many of the patients were in states of extreme ill-health when they were admitted and up to half of them died within the year. The portraits link us directly to them and their lives, the title is a reminder of their individuality and their humanity.

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We had Names, cover

 

PanoramaSm
Interior of the leporello book

The drawings are on thin paper mounted over pen-chart paper which is like graph paper with sprocket holes to draw it below a moving pen. This was a way of indicating the way in which people can be dehumanised; being subsumed by statistics and becoming merely ‘numbers’, or in in the field of medicine, ‘cases’.

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Detail of the portraits.

 

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