The link between artistic talent and mental illness has long been acknowledged, with publications such as 'The British Medical Journal' publishing some very interesting papers on theories about creativity and mental instability. This link also forms the basis for Patrick Gale’s latest book, Notes from an Exhibition. Centring on the family of painter Rachel Kelly, and moving from the perspective of one member to another, it examines the impact of having an artist as a partner or parent and hunts the creative impulse to its hiding places, tugging to disentangle it from personality and the other demons by which Rachel is haunted.
Achieving a sharp sense of individuality for each of his characters, Gale guides readers through a complex web of action and motivation, impressing on us the interconnectedness of people and things and the impossibility of judging one character in isolation. At our backs we hear always the whisper of the writer himself, questioning his own motivations for his art and the toll it may take on those around him. Salutary reading for anyone who has dabbled with creative expression.
Languages (book tip): English