Drew Walker

Current research/thesis title:

The Importance of Place: Gugging, Patient, Art, Doctor und Die Welt

"What is the nature of the artistic and psychological process between patient-artist and artist-doctor in the psychiatric facility of Maria Gugging, in Lower Austria?"

The Gugging-process enables non-trained artistically-talented mentally-ill people to work within a shared social-creative community, foregoing the label/role patient over artist.

My research investigates Gugging’s unique approach that destigmatises mental illness and stimulates social-integration through creativity, whilst maintaining good health, as a fundamental lifestyle.  Potentially re-assigning art’s role within society, Gugging’s structures, behaviours and subjectivities of perception facilitate a transformative act amongst its participants.

I declare a medical interest in Gugging’s themes of art-mental illness-recovery, because I am mentally ill and an artist. My treatment involved 20 medical-professionals, none of whom considered art as therapy or any connection between my art and health. Returning to DJCAD after illness, I used art to enhance my healing during BA/MFA studies. My research investigation has included projects with mentally ill persons, medical staff and artists to gain insight into different approaches to enhancing recovery through community and art-process; one with an existing residential group of recovering addicts, another community I constructed of 14 individual collaborations.

Gugging is a community, redemptive in nature: a powerful reality that redeems its participants’ lives through art-process.

“It’s an installation. Yes, a living installation. A living installation always changes.”