This Blog is based on extracts taken from a journal I kept while working as an art therapist in the art therapy department at Bexley Hospital in Kent.
The period covers daily life in the department , the ebb and flow of the various creative activities , the movement and interaction of patients and staff, also volunteers , students and visitors . It also details strong connections to other wards and departments at the time, i.e. Ashdown (The Drug dependancy Unit) and E1 (The Locked ward )
The art therapy department at Bexley Hospital (known as Oaklea 1) thrived for many years , offering opportunities to make art in a variety of ways and with a range of different media in its open sessions to sometimes , the most challenging of individuals. Its anarchic , active and always creative atmosphere provided not only a facility in which to explore self , the world and others in it , but a sanctuary that encouraged individuality and personal identity rather than the collective nature of the large institution in which it was housed at the time .
The art therapy department had begun life as a male bath house on the east side of the hospital and the middle of the three large studios that comprised the main body of the department still bore testament to this unlikely background , with its towel rails and pulleys ready to open the windows in the roof to let out the steam.