Madge Gill Medium & Visionary

madge hill 2

Last night I went to a private viewing of the “Madge Gill Medium & Visionary” exhibition at the Orleans House Gallery, Twickenham.

This exhibition is exploring her work and her connection to mediumship. With no training and no aspirations to fame, Madge Gill (1882 – 1961) produced thousands of secretive ink drawings during her lifetime. Her work remains an enigma: is it true she was inspired by an ethereal spirit guide? Was she genuinely in touch with ‘the beyond’, or was art-making a form of self therapy?

The exhibition includes many of her pen and ink drawings including “The Crucifixion of the Soul” which is 25 ft long and acts as the focal point for the show. Her work contains the faces of women and intricate designs and patterns, they have a haunting quality about them.

madge figure.preview

Madge first mentioned her spirit guide – Myrninerest in about 1920 and in the 1930’s had a reputation as a medium and conducted seances. The exhibition also has pieces of the “automatic writing” that she produced. The College of Psychic Studies has also loaned several items to the exhibition which includes an automatic writing slate, seance trumpet and drawings by Georgiana Houghton. The College has also loans one of Ethel Le Rossignol paintings that is usually on display at the college.

The exhibition makes you ask the question – was she inspired by Spirit? We may never know for sure. I am seen similar designs being drawn by students when they do inspiration or automatic writing.

The Gallery kindly invited me to run an introductory workshop on “Inspirational Writing” to accompany the exhibition and give people a chance to connect to Spirit for themselves and see what happens. The workshop is also part of the Richmond Literary Festival. It will be interesting to see what experiences people have as Spirit draw close in such a beautiful place, surrounded by energy of Madge’s drawings.


Inspirational Writing Workshop

Wednesday 20 November

6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Coach House, Orleans House Gallery, Riverside, Twickenham, TW1 3DJ

£6 / £5

to book –

For more information on Madge Gill –

For more information on Orleans House Gallery –


2 thoughts on “Madge Gill Medium & Visionary

  1. Great review – thanks.

    Madge Gill: Medium & Visionary

    Orleans House Gallery, Riverside, Twickenham, TW1 3DJ

    Until 26 January 2014

    With no training and no aspirations to fame, Madge Gill produced thousands of ink drawings during her lifetime. Her work remains an enigma: is it true she was inspired by an ethereal spirit guide? Was she genuinely in touch with ‘the beyond’, or was art-making a form of self therapy?

    Orleans House Gallery invites you to delve into the world of Madge Gill (1882 – 1961) in this major retrospective exhibition supported by the Wellcome Trust. Featuring over 100 original artworks, and contextual photographs and documents, this exhibition is the first of its kind. Madge Gill was championed and collected by Jean Dubuffet, who coined the term ‘art brut’ (raw art), the precursor to the term ‘Outsider Art’. Gill is considered the most important, influential and recognised British ‘outsider artist.’ This project explores Gill’s work, history and psychic / mediumistic context in-depth, in order to question the use of such terms, whilst celebrating the benefits of creativity for wellbeing.

    Working mainly on paper, card and textiles, Gill used pen to create maze-like surfaces with a glittering, almost hallucinatory quality that often reveal a female face. Ranging from postcard size to over 10 metres long, her work immerses the eye in a dark world of mystery, beauty and obsession. Her work has been included in previous Orleans House Gallery Outsider and Visionary art exhibitions, the Tate Gallery, and more recently at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, Museum of Everything and Nunnery Gallery.

    The focal point of the exhibition is The Crucifixion of the Soul, perhaps Gill’s most important work. Over ten metres long, this immense calico is inscribed with Gill’s finely wrought doodle-like drawings and is testament to Gill’s commitment to creativity.

    The project has been generously funded by a People Award from the Wellcome Trust. Curators have worked with psychologists, medical historians, biographers, art historians and art psychotherapists to bring different approaches to Gill together within the exhibition and accompanying catalogue. Present day artists from the Art & Soul group, who celebrate mental and emotional wellbeing through the arts, are also represented in the project.

    Bringing together little-seen loans from the Newham Archive; the College of Psychic Studies in South Kensington; the Henry Boxer Gallery and other archival material and artworks from private collections, this exhibition is a must-see for all those interested in art, psychology, spiritualism, social history or all of the above.

    Orleans House Gallery, Riverside, Twickenham, TW1 3DJ

    Free admission

    Gallery open Tuesday-Saturday 1.00-4.30pm, Sunday 2.00-4.30pm

    Tel: 020 8831 6000



    For more information please visit:

    Members of the public should call the Council’s contact centre for more information by phoning 08456 122660.

    Journalists requiring more information should contact Mark Coleman in Richmond Council’s press office on 020 8891 7160 or Orleans House Gallery’s Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, Mark De Novellis on 020 8831 6000.

    Madge Gill: Medium & Visionary curated by Mark De Novellis in collaboration with Henry Boxer, Roger Cardinal and Vivienne Roberts.

    The accompanying catalogue, Madge Gill: Medium & Visionary will be available from the gallery shop. The exhibition will also coincide with a new biography on Gill by Roger Cardinal, a book of Madge Gill’s mediumistic drawings on postcards by Henry Boxer and a roundtable event on November 16.

    The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust’s breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.

  2. Just to let you know that the Madge Gill exhibition featured in the BBC1 Imagine documentary on Outsider Art broadcast on Tuesday 19th November. If you didnt see it you should be able to watch it on iplayer. best wishes Mark

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