Danish artist Albert Grøndahl’s new project looks at the idea of healing through nature and has resulted in a series of beautiful handmade prints and an installation in the garden of Århus Psychiatric Hospital.
His new work is inspired by the concept of the hortus conclusus, the ‘enclosed garden’ often found in medieval monasteries. Grøndahl collaborated with Ark Journal and Fedrigoni on a series of cyanotype prints, which were recently exhibited in Copenhagen, and has also installed a ceramic fountain in the grounds of the Museum Ovartaci at Århus Psychiatric Hospital, now open to the public.
Grøndahl has been interested in ‘social platforms for mental health’ for some time. In 2017 he worked with the hospital museum on an exhibition that involved patients in a collaborative creative process, while his book, A City Behind the Forest (Witty Books), explored the psychiatric environment at the Århus institution via his own photographs and archive material.
He describes a garden collective of psychiatric patients. ‘Here,’ says Grøndahl, ‘I saw and learned how methods of tilling the soil … simply made people feel a lot better.’
Grøndahl went on to research the idea of the garden in Roman cultural history. His latest work in Denmark pushes this further.
‘The garden will be managed by former and present psychiatric users,’ he explains of the current project. ‘The garden stands as a mirror, using historical references and a medieval system of gardening as an inspiration to strengthen our healing mind.’
The centrepiece of the Museum Ovartaci garden in the hospital is a ceramic fountain, made from the same type of clay used in the tiled pavement that surrounds it. Plant bedding has been constructed in a symmetrical shape to reflect the principles of the medieval cloister garden.
‘We’re establishing a new garden community, where both former and present patients can use the garden as part of their own therapy,’ says Grøndahl.
The limited edition prints created for the project are available to purchase and 50 percent of profits from sales will be donated to the Verdens Skove charity in aid of forest preservation.
‘The prints are made as cyanotypes, unique prints exposed by sunlight,’ he explains. ‘The uncoated surface and great texture makes the paper interesting for me to work with in the darkroom.’
The limited edition prints consist of ten artworks in an edition of four. They are available from the Ark Journal shop at https://www.ark-journal.com/product/limited-edition-artworks-by-albert-grondahl/
Grøndahl’s work is also featured in a special insert of the current issue of Ark Journal. The garden project was made possible with support from the Danish Art Foundation.