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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 September 2005, 08:19 GMT 09:19 UK
Artist's focus on asylum history
One of the paintings about the asylum
Objects from the hospital site are included in the paintings
The 10th anniversary of the closure of a former asylum is being marked with the opening of an art exhibition.

London-based Rachel Gadsden has been awarded a bursary to develop her project about the former North Wales Hospital at Denbigh.

Now the hospital site is to be redeveloped for housing and business and community facilities.

Some of the artist's work on the decaying hospital site is on show at Denbigh library from Saturday.

The project will eventually encompass around 15 to 20 pieces of work, but six of her pieces are included in a larger exhibition called Beyond the Asylum.

Ms Gadsden said that this is the second project she has undertaken focussing on an asylum.

My work is really about the fragile nature of our lives and how we can survive
Rachel Gadsden

"I go into derelict sites to investigate their history and make paintings about the life that existed ," she said.

"In the way that memories are fragments the paintings give a glimpse of the history of the past."

First opened in 1842 the hospital finally closed in 1995. At its height up to 2,000 patients were cared for there by thousands of staff.

To produce her work Ms Gadsden has explored the hospital site and investigated the archives. Her works on canvas are embedded with old patients records.

Eventually the project will also include a film which will include some of her drawings merged with footage of the derelict site.

She has also spoken to three former psychiatric nurses at the hospital who have told her stories about the way patients were treated, and she has also gained mixed views of the asylum from some former patients.

"My work is really about the fragile nature of our lives and how we can survive," explained the artist.

Rachel Gadsden outside the North Wales Hospital
The asylum project will be complete in a year's time

The 120-acre site at Denbigh is to be developed by a Lancashire-based company after planning permission was granted in May.

Last year Prince Charles, visiting the site for his restoration scheme the Phoenix Trust, said the prime example of Victorian asylum architecture, was in danger of being "squandered".

The asylum project presents a return to Wales for Ms Gadsden who was formerly artist in residence at the old Penallta Colliery in the Rhymney Valley.


SEE ALSO:
Ex-psychiatric hospital home plan
10 May 05 |  North East Wales
Derelict hospital's way forward
24 Nov 04 |  North East Wales


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