Patients waiting to see the doctor, with figures representing their fears. Oil painting by Rosemary Carson, 1997.

  • Carson, Rosemary, 1962-
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Physical description

1 painting : oil on wood (MDF) ; wood 91.5 x 61 cm


The patients with their fears waiting to see the doctor. 24.6.1997. R. Carson Inscribed and dated on the reverse; signed on the painting

References note

Private worlds: outsider and visionary art, Twickenham: Orleans House Gallery in association with Loughborough University School of Art and Design, 2001

Terms of use

Copyright is held by the Wellcome Trust


Wellcome Collection 546554i

Creator/production credits

Since the age of six, Rosemary Carson has had at times sensations of maggots moving about in her body. She describes her childhood as rather unhappy, culminating in a suicide attempt at the age of fifteen. Since then she has spent periods in psychiatric care, enduring electrical and chemical therapies without achieving relief from her suffering. The birth of a daughter in her twenties, with a move to Cornwall and marriage, brought psychic stability and for seventeen years a stilling of the feeling of maggots taking over her body. Painting became increasingly important to her in 1996 when she became ill again and started hearing voices. She began spontaneously to paint faces, which she subsequently recognized as fellow patients from her earlier stays in psychiatric hospitals, and which brought back a flood of suppressed memories. The need to capture these memories was reinforced by the urgings of the "underlings" (spirits of dead patients), so-called because they speak to her under the voices of others. Mostly, she says, they encourage her in her work, but sometimes they become frightening and destructive. At these times, she enters a local psychiatric unit until she feels able to return to painting in safety (adapted from Private worlds)


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