Vawdrey Archive Project: One artists’ personal connection

Outside In artist Peter Baker shares his personal link to Graylingwell and how he’s enjoyed discovering the stories of others

I’m an ambassador for Outside In and I go round to different places talking to other artists and helping out. Outside In is a charity for people who haven’t had a chance to do art and to get it seen – we’re all outsiders. I’ve always been keen on art. I didn’t start til 7 or 8 years ago when I came to Pallant House. I worked until I was 61 at Shippams, then when I got ill and couldn’t work machinery the doctor asked me what I would like to do. I’m not one to sit around, so I went to Pallant House and started drawing and I’ve been doing it ever since! I like to learn about paint techniques and new ways of doing things.

Outside In artist Peter Baker with images from Graylingwell and his drawing

I was interested in the Vawdrey project because I’ve got a long connection with Graylingwell. In the 1940s-1960s my aunty was in there because of her epilepsy and my mum was as well and I visited them there. Those years weren’t very nice – patients were tied up and bathed in cold water and had ECT. My aunt was lucky she helped with the cleaning and on the farm. In the end she ran away to London and married a doctor.

What appeals to me about the Vawdrey archive project is to see what type of art the people did at hospital. I like to hear about their history, ordinary people’s stories. I am making new artworks based on Case 2 – I like the early symmetrical paintings with leaves and faces. When I look at the artwork from case 2 I really do wonder what she was like. I think she was a very good artist. The first ones are done quite carefully, but the later ones are splashy and a bit moody. The other artworks are interesting but it’s case 2 that’s taken my eye.

The really enjoyable part of the project is all the discussion. I like hearing the different parts. I think the work should be shown – the reason why – its been put away and no one has seen it, it’s been forgotten. That’s what I hope, that it can be put out for the public to see. I’m enjoying every minute of it.

The artwork has really inspired me. The differences between all the different pieces are interesting – some is bright and colourful, some less so. There aren’t any I don’t like though, they’re all interesting. That’s what I’ve learnt at Pallant House and Outside In, that in art nothing is wrong, it’s just how you make it.

I would recommend this project or something like it to other artists, it’s nice I’ve had the chance to do it.

I think that art is good for people. If we feel down art picks us up, it’s a good treatment. Doing art has made me a lot happier!

More about the Vawdrey Archieve Project, including artist profiles and diaries from previous sessions, can be found HERE

Click here to visit Peter’s online gallery

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