"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home" (Twyla Tharp)

Art as therapy ...

                             Many of us have already discovered the benefits of art in our lives, whether as an artist or an appreciative viewer.   On our recent visit to Provence we visited the hospital in St Remy where Vincent Van Gogh spent a year from 1889-1890 after suffering a major breakdown.  I spent quite a while there taking photos and absorbing the atmosphere in such a serene setting.

                             St Remy de Provence, France - Monastere St Paul de Mausole

 While being confined, Van Gogh converted a nearby cell into a studio, and even though he still suffered attacks, he produced 150 paintings during his year-long stay at St Remy.  Initially Van Gogh was confined to a room where he painted the world around him, deleting the bars which obscured his view.

               In the asylum's walled garden he was able to see a beautiful array of flowers and subject matter, including the stunning irises.

Later Van Gogh was able to venture farther afield, and he painted the wheatfields, olive groves, and cypress trees of the surrounding countryside.

One of the more recognised paintings from this period is

From the beautiful gardens it was easy to see his inspiration ...

Vincent Van Gogh said of his time there "I feel happier here with my work than I could be outside. By staying here a good long time, I shall have learned regular habits and in the long run the result will be more order in my life."

The hospital is still used for patients with severe depression and it was good to hear that art is used as therapy for these patients.  There is a shop within the grounds which sells  artwork produced by the patients - with proceeds going to the artist and the hospital.  

I wasn't keen on visiting an asylum on my travels but the Saint Paul Asylum in St Remy was a very inspirational place to visit - lots of light and colour and beautiful subjects within the grounds to get the creative juices flowing .. and hopefully still brings solace, comfort and inspiration to those residing in this amazing place.

A slideshow of Vincent Van Gogh's work set to the song "Vincent"
Starry starry night ....


  1. Beautiful story..i have learned here..xxx

  2. Yes Beautiful place and the Iris' ,wow!

  3. Beautiful photographs, and lovely well informed story! That's what travel should be all about... great blog!

  4. Wow - thank you for the virtual trip and information - your photos are gorgeous, and the post is indeed very inspirational. Van Gogh was an amazing artist.

  5. Van Gogh is amazing! For life, for the works, the way how he painfully made ​​his art.
    Dear Vicki,many thanks for the post: you have added words and images to improve my understanding of this great artist!

  6. I love this post. For all the times I've traveled to France (or lived there for a number of months) I've yet to make it here, to my regret.

    I am a huge believer in art as a means to reach our most refined (or challenging) aspects of humanity, not to mention art as therapy. (I have been reading a gentleman by the name of Michael Friedman who writes on Huff Post about art with alzheimer's patients, art as therapy, art (and the arts in general) as vital to our mental health and well being. I know that art was a mechanism for me to gauge my little boy's difficult passage through the years following divorce. He was able to express through art would he could not understand or articulate any other way.

    What a delicious discovery your blog is!

    1. Thank you so much BigLittleWolf.

      Most of my life no matter how well things were going, I always felt something was missing. I was prone to depression as many are - and I feel this is almost the soul's way of calling you to pay more attention to what is needed.

      Art came into my life for the very first time at a late age - after my children had grown - and a whole new world opened up to me. This blog began soon after and I now know it was always meant to be a part of my life.

      I would love to see art more accessible and honoured in all its forms. A chance to see art not just as the finished piece, but as the process of feeding the soul. It is a great means of communication and comfort.

      I will certainly look up Michael Friedman, thank you.

  7. Thank you also Manon, Claire, Alena, Elizabeth and Rita ...
    I enjoyed sharing this with you all xxxxx

  8. Such an interesting story.I think Id like to learn more about his journey. Thanks for visiting me. I love finding french style places in WA. Ive posted about some but maybe I should do more. Nice meeting you, Fiona