Bryan Charnley – May 3rd


Bryan John Charnley was born on 20th September 1949 in Stockton on Tees. He is one of the twins. He stayed with his parents in London, Chislehurst in Kent, Cranfield, where his father worked as a Senior Lecturer, and finally in Bromham near Bedford. He was a talented painter right from his young age. In the summer of 1968, aged 18, he suffered his first nervous breakdown, but he was able to complete a pre-diploma course in art at Leicester school of art later that year. He gained admission at Central School of Art and Design in Holborn, London in 1969 but was not able to complete the course due to another nervous breakdown which was later diagnosed as acute schizophrenia. He lived with his parents for six years from 1971-77 undergoing various treatments including ECT (ElectroConvulsive Therapy or Electroshock Therapy).

I have recently been intrigued by the artist called Bryan Charnley, a man who sadly committed suicide. In the process of his depression and mental breakdown, he managed to express his feelings through painting, which I think is absolutely fascinating despite John’s tragic history of nervous breakdowns his battle with acute schizophrenia.

As you can see below, Bryan was facing a variety of mental issues and it shows throughout his collection of self- portraits. I’m still undecided as to whether I like his style of painting but I am more interested in the idea behind the painting and I am curious about the thought process behind each of Bryan’s pieces of work.

In my final piece, I hope to create a sense of emotion through my painting technique and the style of brush markings, which should express a sense of maybe anger or excitement.



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