I have always been an admirer of Vincent van Gogh’s artwork.So when I had the opportunity to visit St Rémy where he spent two years in a mental hospital in his quest for mental health I jumped at it.
The idea was to follow his footsteps where he walked and worked during those two years. The trail starts in the town of St. Rémy and is about two kilometers long ending at the mental hospital which is still an operational hospital today. Along the trail one finds 21 copies of artwork which he had done during that time, accompanied by letters he wrote to his family . The letters contain special insight in his psyche and how he experienced his illness.
It was a cold rainy day but we were determined to walk the trail. We set out from the centre of town armed with cameras and raincoats. Due to the weather my friend and I were the only ones brave, or maybe stupid enough to follow the signs on the pavement marking the trail.
The experience turned out to be emotionally very touching. The letters written by van Gogh was insightful giving just a glimpse of his suffering and as it was accompanied by his beautiful artwork it touched me deeply.
His quest became my quest to try and understand a little about the suffering of a person with mental health problems.
The starting point of the trail with a self portrait by the artist
Along the way
The entrance to the monastry which housed the hospital