Falkland Estate is glad to be celebrating the centenary of Mary Barnes, artist, writer and a Falkland resident during the 1980s and 90s and who is buried in Falkland cemetery. 

Mary Edith Barnes (1923-2001) led an extraordinary life. Trained as a nurse, she experienced a mental health crisis in mid-life that led to her becoming a resident of Kingsley Hall, an experimental therapeutic community in Bow, East London, in the 1960s. It was led by the radical psychiatrist and counter-cultural figure, Dr R. D. (Ronnie) Laing. There, Mary was encouraged to regress and live through her psychosis, cared for by Dr Joseph Berke, an American psychoanalyst who moved to the UK to work with Laing. Berke encouraged Mary to express herself creatively, initially using her own excrement on the walls of Kingsley Hall. There began an incredible artistic journey and recovery from mental illness. After leaving Kingsley Hall, Mary moved to Falkland where she continued to create art, using paint applied with her fingers and to write. Her powerful body of work has many themes including her visceral experiences of psychosis that she named ‘IT”, her relationships with Berke and Laing, her recovery, sense of place, the transcendence of nature and her deeply held spiritual beliefs.

A series of events will take place to commemorate Mary’s centenary year including a BBC Radio documentary which you can listen to here.

Exhibition “Rebirth and Revolution”

This exhibition is part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival and takes place 1-28 February, 2024 at the Stables Gallery, Falkland Estate. The exhibition is curated by Professor Victoria Tischler and features work created by Barnes during her time living in Scotland. More details are available here.

Mary Barnes: Rebirth

This event will reflect upon Mary Barnes’s life in Scotland, her deep connection to nature and her spiritual beliefs and is part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival. It will take place at the Chapel Royal in Falkland – a place she lived and her final place of rest – in February 2024 having been postponed in October 2023 due to flooding. This is a free event but donations on the night are welcome. Tickets are available here