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Art and Images in Psychiatry |

All Things Betray Thee Who Betrayest Me

James C. Harris, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2004;61(11):1082. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.61.11.1082.
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On November 3, 1953, William Kurelek (1927-1977) was transferred tothe Netherne Hospital, Coulsdon, Surrey, England, for chronic care following17 months at the Maudsley Hospital, London, England. The referral letter suggestedthat there he might reach a “satisfactory equilibrium under shelteredcircumstances.”2(p92) Whileat Maudsley, he had completed the self-analytical painting The Maze,3 depicting himself as a whiterat who lay exhausted and demoralized in the center of an exitless maze, seeminglycondemned to eternally ruminate on painful events from his past life. Hisphysicians thought it would benefit him to work with Edmund Adamson, the founderof British art therapy, at Netherne. Kurelek had been grateful for daily talksat the Maudsley with a devout Roman Catholic occupational therapist, MargaretSmith, and she agreed to visit him. The Netherne Hospital was, to Kurelek,a dreary asylum. By the time Adamson met him, he had regressed and could notparticipate in an art group so was allowed to paint alone in a small room.He communicated without words by giving Adamson copies of his drawings andpaintings.4(p23)

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William Kurelek (1927-1977), Canadian. Cover: All Things Betray Thee Who Betrayest Me (Nature Poor StepdameSeries), 1970. Mixed media on board; 48 in × 48 in. The IsaacsGallery, Toronto, Ontario. Painting reproduced courtesy of The Estate of William Kurelek andThe Isaacs Gallery.

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Figure.

Kurelek, Lord ThatI May See, 1955. Watercolor; 48 in × 30 in. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal,Quebec. Painting reproduced courtesy of The Estate of William Kurelek andThe Isaacs Gallery.

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