home first back 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 forward

The controlling atmosphere, the presence of guards or staff as they are euphemistically called was
reinforced on my second visit to Rampton, a month later. This time it was the true Backayard
group consisting of black members only. There were between 50–60 black people in the large hall.
sitting under a canopy, sitting by tables, drinking soft drinks, playing dominoes, dancing by
themselves – especially the guy in long white pointed shoes.

Many of the inmates showed signs of drug damage, and were zombie-like in movement. many
sat still – no motivation to do anything except breathe and occasionally look up. I’d brought
some art materials with me which had to be checked and rechecked by the staff to see if any thing
could be used as a weapon.

A brief description of the physical environment of Rampton. There is no dust. Nothing is
allowed to settle, including patients. There is a sense of unease. Rampton is a lock-up. There are
doors locked everywhere down the corridors every 5 yards or so. In the Main Hall, ten ‘staff’ are
strategically placed by the doors leading into and out of the Hall.

The guards are all white, male and female of various ages between 25–60. I accept that one reason
for this is its location, but one feels black people don’t want to work there. Two guards watched
me and the art table.

Quite a few of the inmates were interested in the art books I’d brought, Revue Noire, Aboriginal
Art of the Western Desert
, The Art of Negation. These were books based on the work of Black
artists and the image of Black people seen through white American nineteenth-century artists’

Several inmates expressed their concern that they’d never seen images of African cities before.
They’d only ever seen images of Africa’s starving.

Rampton left me with the thought that I must find out more about why black people are given
the diagnosis of schizophrenia more frequently than white people.

3. Setting up at SACMHA

Back at SACHMA, I set up a system of art therapy, two informal sessions in the afternoons which
were open groups, individual sessions on SACMHA's premisses and next door at Pittsmoor Day
Centre, as well as home visits. Some weeks, I was busy seeing many clients, other weeks few or
none. Some clients I saw regularly, others irregularly or only once or twice.

I felt that the work I did was useful. We covered a lot of ground in the sessions. We worked in a
dynamic, highly interactive way. I also did some interesting sessions with carers n the evenings
– mothers, grandmothers, brothers and sisters, friends, and became aware of the real need for
therapeutic support for the carers.

In my work at SACMHA I re-learned the value of vocal sounds and body stances that convey
understanding deeper than words. Sound becomes part of the therapy. These sounds and looks
and gestures and body movements are all cultural.

I had difficulty relating the way I worked to what we had been taught in the Sheffield
Department. I went with my instincts. Later, I came across the book Tapestry of Cultural Issues in
Art Therapy
, edited by Anna Hiscocks [1998] ch. 3 'Art Therapy: An Afro-centric Approach',
written by two US black art therapists, Charlotte Boston and Gwendoline Short, which described
the way I worked perfectly.