Permanent Collection

Recovery by Anonymous

Anonymous, Recovery, c.1950s, carved wood, Permanent Loan to AVAM
by the Edward Adamson Collection, photo by Dan Meyers.

This lone figure was carved from a single apple tree trunk. It was created as a self-portrait by a British mental patient who had a distinctive concave chest from years of tuberculosis. His doctor remembered that he took no interest in making art until he encountered a fallen apple tree during a walk on the hospital grounds and asked for help in dragging it indoors and getting simple carving tools. At that time, there was hospital prohibition for mental patients handling what could be 'lethal' instruments. However, Edward Adamson, a pioneer in using art to treat mental illness, persuaded the authorities to relax this rule, and trust the patient. The result, 'Recovery,' was a vindication of Edward's remarkable insight. For a month, the patient whittled the wood down to this figure. The artist, in his thirties, committed suicide about two years after leaving the hospital. This applewood figure is his only known work of art.