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Broken windmill.

Charnley, Bryan, (1949-1991)

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About this work


A lift shaft through a cross section of the earth, with an arm reaching out from flames. At the surface is a large flower with a lions mouth at it's centre, a girl is kneeling on the grass with a syringe above her head.



Physical description

1 painting : oil on board ; 91 x 83.7 cm

Biographical note

Bryan Charnley (1949-1991) was a British artist whose work illustrates his experiences of schizophrenia. In 1969 he enrolled on a BA in sculpture at the Central School of Art and Design, but left due to a breakdown. He started painting in 1978, and from the late 1980s he began to get recognition for his work, with Bethlem Royal Hospital purchasing four of his paintings. From 1987 to his death he kept a dream diary as a way of understanding his own mind. In March 1991 he decided to experiment with his medication and embarked on a series of self-portraits, a series which exposed his mental illness. The series was exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1995. He took his own life in July 1991.


Title provided by the Estate of Bryan Charnley.
Signed with initials BJC in bottom right corner. Writing on verso reads 'sized other side 840 x 984 cms'.

Publications note

Charnley, J. (2018). Bryan Charnley: art and adversity, pages 98-99.


Bryan Charnley. 1979. Broken windmill. [Oil on board]. Wellcome Collection: Library no. 3049663i



  • English

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