Asylum seeker….


I have been in one. Just not recently and not in that way. Long before the channel tunnel, refugee crisis (plural) or camps, I sought out an asylum.  In Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France.

That’s where Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh voluntarily admitted himself during the last year of his 37.

A locked facility for the mentally ill, he had travelled to the asylum from a hospital in Arles, the subject of one of his paintings:


Hospital garden, Arles

Crowned by French locals as ‘Fou Roux’ (the red-headed madman) Van Gogh produced painting after painting birthed from a place of extraordinary mental anguish and physical difficulties.

I went to the hospital in Arles too for a day. Looking back it was probably not everyone’s idea of a traditional happy-go-lucky holiday itinerary.

But my pilgrimage did confirm that the busy galleried hospital walkways of Van Gogh’s painting are still populated by madmen and asylum seekers.


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