Marie Christie was one of the residents at Lennox Castle Hospital. She came to Project Ability for the Lennox Castle Stories project, and is now one of our Aspire artists.
During the summer, she told her story to director and producer Jonathan Mann, who then produced the short documentary 'Out of Sight Out of Mind'.
She also wrote down her memories into a wonderful book: 'I, Myself Marie Christie - Project Ability and the Lennox Castle Hospital Story', which she illustrated. We are lucky to have our very own signed copy by the artist!
The beautiful and moving book can be purchased from our shop in Trongate 103.
Project Ability & C-Change Present the Lennox Castle Website
This remarkable social history project, funded by the Heritage Lottery, has brought together ex-residents, ex-staff, professionals, family and friends to share their memories of Lennox Castle Hospital. The project began in 2012, to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the closure of Lennox Castle Hospital and while yesterday marked the end of the project it was also the launch of the website which we hope will reach out to people far and wide who are connected to and interested in Lennox Castle.
Lennox Castle closed ten years ago yet the impact of the hospital environment and its model of institutional care is still felt today by everyone who was connected to the place.
At the launch we heard stories from Cllr Malcolm Cunning, chairman of C-Change, Marie Christie an ex-resident, John and Sam Bryan; John was a resident at Lennox Castle Hospital and Sam is his older brother. After a short break when people were invited to give feedback the artists leading the project; Kate Burton, Tracy Gorman and Meredith Crone shared their experience of introducing the group to a vast array of media and artistic processes. Elisabeth Gibson, Project Ability’s Director showcased the website and Doreen Kay an ex-resident shared her story. Doreen’s story was followed by people who had worked at Lennox Castle Hospital and who had delivered the hospital closure programme.
“It was great to hear the patients and their families talk about the project.”
“The best part is hearing the stories and experiences of the people from the Castle.”
“Happy but a bit sad about wasted lives.”
“I didn’t like being in the castle.”
“U need 2 look inside the people.”
“ I have enjoyed Project Ability, my bad memories of Lennox Castle are away now. I have met old friends and new ones.”
“Stories – seeing end results and all the work that was put in.”
“We have a bright future!”
Derek Young Photography
Photographer Derek Young has given us permission to show his dramatic photographs of the castle ruins, shot from some hair-raising angles!
Patients hidden away for years at Lennox Castle mental hospital
An article on Lennox Castle hospital, interviews with Norman Telfer and Marie O' Connor, featured in the Scottish Daily Record.
We are delivering four more visual arts workshops leading up to the launch of a website on the 17th April. The website will tell the story of Lennox Castle Hospital through the words and pictures of people who were residents in the “Castle”. The group will be making new work which celebrates their achievements since leaving the “Castle”.
Save the date! Website launch, 17th April, 2 – 4pm at Project Ability.
Lennox Castle Stories
On Thursday 21st February the Lennox Castle Stories group were invited to attend the City Chambers to present their stories and talk about the project with local councillors.
Doreen, Marie C, Marie O, Colin, Iain, Norman, Willie and Sadie attended.
Marie Christie shared her story.
“My name is Marie Christie. I attend the Project Ability once a week which I like very much. I’ve met a lot of different people. I was in Lennox Castle Hospital for 30 years. Since then I am out of Lennox Castle for 20 years, now I’m married for the last 15 years. I’m happy and have learnt a lot from courses like computing on my laptop at Rosemount Flexicentre in Royston Road and evening classes like literacy class at the Mitchel Library. I’ve even bought and paid for my own house with my husband Willie who I met in Lennox Castle Hospital. He was from the male side. We both came out together into the community and are very happy living in the one house together paying the bills. I met a friend that was in Lennox Castle Hospital with me for 30 years. Her name is Sadie. She was in the same hut as me and we slept in the next bed to one another. We had good days and bad days together. I meet Sadie down at Project Ability. I was so glad to see her along with other friends I’ve made. Even Sadie’s carers have been great with myself and hubby talking over the phone plus inviting us over to Sadie’s house for our lunch. Madge has been so great with bringing Sadie to my house. I went to Sadie’s big 60th party on Sunday night in the Rolls Royce club.”
Project Ability would like to thank Councillors Malcolm Cunning and Mark Kerr for arranging the event.
Lennox Castle Stories
The Lennox Castle Stories website launch appeared in The Kikintilloch Herald on 8 March 2013, with news on the event at Glasgow City Chambers.
On Friday 29th June the Lennox Castle group went on a bus trip to the site of Lennox Castle Hospital. There's not much left to see as a housing estate has been built on the site of the old hospital. Although the "oval" (staff housing) had long ago been sold on as private housing the familiar layout is still there and the "doctors" house up the hill and the gate house on the Crow Road and within the grounds the roads and paths up and down the hill - so there was still plenty of material to spark off conversation.
Celtic Football Club let the group park the bus in the carpark of their training facility and from the top of the hill they could see the ruins of the old castle and in places the original red stone walls which still surround the site. At the foot of the Campsies, on a wet and windy day it was an atmospheric experience!
For some in the group it was their first time back to Lennoxtown in years while others return quite often to walk in the hills.
The group continue to meet at Project Ability on Friday mornings.
Lennox Castle Stories: Week 4
Friday 25th was the last of the current workshops in the Lennox Castle Stories project. Twenty people piled into the workshop to finish off a vast array of work; a wooden model of a tractor, the original Lennox Castle building modelled in clay, pigs (it’s a long story………) and many, many prints and paintings. After the workshop we met for a sandwich lunch and to have a bit of a chat about the project to date and to decide what happens next. Everyone said how much they were enjoying the project and how they wanted to tell people what living in the “Castle” had been like. They thought more people would be interested in taking part in the next block of workshops. We have started interviewing ex-staff and other professionals who were involved with Lennox Castle and we have recruited two volunteers from the group to help with the interviews. A considerable number of people want to visit where the hospital had stood (nothing is left of the hospital buildings other than the ruin of the original Castle) and the local area. We hope to arrange this over the next few weeks. Project Ability and C-Change would like to thank everyone who is taking part in this project for their enthusiasm, commitment and good humour! We are blown away with the dignity with which people are sharing their memories.
Lennox Castle Stories: Week 3
Over the last few weeks participants of the Lennox Castle Stories group have produced an astonishing amount of art work and they have generously shared some of their memories of Lennox Castle for a documentary.
The surrounding environment of Lennox Castle - the stretching hills, forests and wildlife of the Campsies - has been a huge influence on the paintings, drawings, 3 dimensional objects and animations produced. One of the animations reflected upon how the Castle was hidden away from the world behind the trees and other animations have captured very vivid personal memories.
Meal times, tea breaks and other day to day routines within the hospital are also strong themes which the ex-residents are keen to talk about and reflect upon within their art work.
It has been an honour to work with the group and see these themes develop, forming unique and poignant responses to their time in Lennox Castle.
Kate Burton film maker
Lennox Castle Stories: Week 2
"This week’s 'Lennox Castle Stories' workshop was again a hive of activity. The session was kicked off with a screening of the collaborative film produced during the first block of workshops in March. The film features animations using drawings made by our participants and candid video interviews of people’s first hand experiences and memories of their time in the Castle. This screening generated even more enthusiasm amongst the group, with a queue of our participants eager to share their thoughts and memories on film too! Out in the workshop space, more beautiful drawings and sculptural pieces were produced, including a clay pig and a wooden tractor! There really is no stopping this group and it is a fantastic energy to have the opportunity to work with."
- Project Ability tutor Tracy Gorman.
The new block of ‘Remembering Lennox Castle Hospital’ workshops has started
The new block of workshops for our joint project withC-Change 'Remembering Lennox Castle Hospital' has started on Friday 4th May, and will run until the end of the month.
Here is what one of our tutors, Meredith Crone, had to say about last week's workshop:
"Friday 4th May saw the beginning of a second block of art workshops open to former residents of Lennox Castle Hospital. The session was very well attended and the group, that had been established in March, welcomed a couple of new participants who joined to share their memories and experiences.
After an initial recap and reflection upon the work produced in March the group were eager to resume their creative journey, again generating much energy and momentum, which I’m sure will push the artwork in some new and exciting directions.
Some really extraordinary images and objects are being made and produced and some very moving and poignant stories are being told and recorded. The next few weeks present an exciting opportunity for the artists involved in this project to develop, expand and build upon work they have made so far and to continue to explore their experience of having lived in a large institution and how that compares to their life situation today."
Lennox Castle Stories: end of the first series of workshops
Friday 23 March was the final day of the first block of workshops as part of the C-Change and Project Ability project ‘Remembering Lennox Castle’. Here is what one of our tutors, Tracy, had to say about it:
"Today was the last of our four initial workshops, with everyone continuing to be bursting full of enthusiasm. Drawings made over the last few weeks have been used to create fantastic animations, with images of foliage and the wildlife remembered in the grounds of the castle, coming to life. The work is now really starting to become personal to each of our participants, with many of our group having very clear ideas of what they want to produce in their workshop time. All sorts of media are now confidently being explored including drawing and paintings, film, animation techniques, print making, creative writing and ceramics. More memories were shared today and more and more drawings and stories created, everyone really has worked hard. The commitment to the workshops over the past few weeks has been tremendous and it has been fantastic to watch the group develop. We are all very much looking forward to the next block due to start in May."
The staff at Project Ability and C-Change have been blown away by the participants' contributions and their generosity in sharing their story. The first project Steering Group meeting is scheduled for Thursday 5th April at 13:30 at Project Ability. We will review our progress and plan the next stage of the project.
The next workshops are on Friday 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th May from 10:00 – 12:30 at Project Ability. Please remember to bring along your photographs and mementos to include on the website.
You can read more about the project on C-Change's blog.
Week two of ‘Remembering Lennox Castle Hospital’ workshops
The second workshop of the 'Remembering Lennox Castle Hospital' project took place on Friday 9 March. One of our tutors, Zeynep, wrote the following:
"We continued to work on the visualisation of the surroundings of the castle. Drawing trees, birds, the hills, the view on approaching the castle... There is an interesting work happening around recreating an ambulance that we are hoping to use in the film animation. The animation has kicked of with Cameron and Rena! We now have the first scene of our animation opening with a view of the castle through some leaves.
This week we also had couple of people working with clay and started making 3-d objects. Others have continued painting and drawing both from memory and photographs of the castle. We will keep building on these images in the next 2 weeks."
The ‘Remembering Lennox Castle’ project has started
After the successful launch of 'Remembering Lennox Castle Hospital' on Friday 24th February, the first of a series of workshops took place at Project Ability on the 3rd of March.
Over 30 people have signed up to attend regular workshops and share their memories of the 'Castle'. On the first day the group was divided in smaller groups, allowing participants to chose their prefered way of expression: some people were comfortable being filmed or recorded, others found that drawings and a more visual approach worked better for them.
The workshop focussed on the castle and it surroundings: first the woods, then the building, then inside the building. Everyone remembers the woods and everyone shares a sense of being hidden away behind the trees - out of sight, out of mind..
‘Remembering Lennox Castle Hospital’ launched on Friday 24 February
On the 24th February 2012 over fifty people attended the launch of the project “Remembering Lennox Castle Hospital” at Project Ability’s premises at Trongate 103.
Remembering Lennox Castle Hospital is a project funded by the Heritage Lottery to give ex-residents and staff an opportunity to tell their stories about life in the “Castle” in their own words.
Everyone who attended was incredibly open, honest and generous with their memories. Many people had lived in the Castle for over twenty years, some for far longer, and time was spent remembering the good and the bad aspects of life in the Castle. People enjoyed the camaraderie amongst the residents and staff and enjoyed outings and dances and cinema evenings but there was also a shared sense that people were not treated as individuals, that there was very little privacy and people did not feel safe.
There was a collective feeling of being hidden away. This project gives people a voice and an opportunity to share their stories and celebrate their achievements.
The project continues with a first series of workshops, taking place in March.