Freud Museum London: Psychoanalysis Podcasts A treasure trove of ideas in psychoanalysis. History, theory, and psychoanalytic perspectives on a diverse range of topics.

This afternoon’s symposium explores how artists and writers use the creative process to face and work through traumatic and painful experiences of loss.

Part 2: Fay Ballard, artist, in conversation with writer Jeremy Gavron, author of A Woman on the Edge of Time, discussing how the early and unexpected deaths of their mothers – Fay’s of a sudden acute illness, Jeremy’s by suicide – has had a profound influence on their lives and work.

Chaired by Esther Dreifuss-Kattan.

The death of her mother in 1964 when Fay was seven, and of her father, the novelist J G Ballard, in 2009, became the catalyst for major change in her work. Clearing the family home, Fay began to draw her mother from discovered photos as well as family possessions which evoked strong memories. These drawings were exhibited in ‘House Clearance’ at Eleven Spitalfields Gallery, London in 2014, at & Model Gallery Leeds in 2015 alongside new work.

A Woman on the Edge of Time is Jeremy Gavron’s moving memoir of his mother, Hannah Gavron, who committed suicide in 1965 when he was only four. Bright, sophisticated, and swept up in the progressive politics of the 1960s, Hannah was a promising academic and the wife of a rising entrepreneur.

Searching for the mother who was never talked about as he grew up, Gavron discovers letters, diaries, and photos that paint a picture of a brilliant but complex young woman grappling to find an outlet for her creativity, sexuality, and intelligence. Piecing together the events that led to his mother's suicide, Gavron discovers that Hannah's success came at a price, and that the pressures she faced as she carved out her place in a man's world may have contributed to her death.

'I was mesmerised by Jeremy Gavron's extraordinary memoir of his mother ... It's one of those works that cross over into the real life so justly that all of life is better understood by it.' Ali Smith

About the book:

Art and Mourning: The role of creativity in healing trauma and loss, by Esther Dreifuss Kattan, Routledge 2016

Esther Dreifuss-Kattan explores the relationship between creativity and the work of self-mourning in the lives of 20th century artists and thinkers. The role of artistic and creative endeavours is well-known within psychoanalytic circles in helping to heal in the face of personal loss, trauma, and mourning.

In this book, Esther Dreifuss-Kattan analyses the work of major modernist and contemporary artists and thinkers through a psychoanalytic lens. In coming to terms with their own mortality, figures like Albert Einstein, Louise Bourgeois, Paul Klee, Eva Hesse and others were able to access previously unknown reserves of creative energy in their late works, as well as a new healing experience of time outside of the continuous temporality of everyday life.

Dreifuss-Kattan explores what we can learn about using the creative process to face and work through traumatic and painful experiences of loss. Art and Mourning will inspire psychoanalysts and psychotherapists to understand the power of artistic expression in transforming loss and traumas into perseverance, survival and gain.

Art and Mourning offers a new perspective on trauma and will appeal to psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, psychologists, clinical social workers and mental health workers, as well as artists and art historians.


Dr. Esther Dreifuss-Kattan is a psychoanalyst, psychotherapist and art therapist in private practice in Beverly Hills, California. Dr. Esther Dreifuss-Kattan is the President Elect of the New Center for Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles. She works with adults of all ages, adolescents and children. Given Dr. Dreifuss-Kattan’s own artistic background, she specializes in helping clients who are involved in various creative pursuits.

Dr. Dreifuss-Kattan’s second specialty is working with adult and paediatric cancer patients/survivors and their families as well as those with chronic pain. In addition to her private practice, she also works extensively with Los Angeles-based organizations devoted to treating those with illness.

She received her PhD in Psychoanalysis from the Southern California Institute of Psychoanalysis, now the New Center for Psychoanalysis, and earned another in Art Therapy and Psychooncology from the Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dr. Dreifuss-Kattan is currently a senior faculty member at the New Center for Psychoanalysis. Her published books and articles center on clinical practice, theory in psychoanalysis and art, art therapy and psychooncology. She lectures nationally and internationally.

Jane McAdam Freud MA RCA is a sculptor and multi-disciplinary artist educated at the Royal College of Art and is a recipient of the British Art Medal Scholarship in Rome. McAdam Freud exhibits internationally, holding twenty solo shows since 1996. Jane's work has been acquired for numerous Public Collections including the British Museum, V&A, National Gallery Archives, and the National Gallery of Greece.

Fay Ballard studied History of Art at Sussex University in the late 1970s and worked at the Museum of London, Royal Academy of Arts and Tate, where she was involved in the creation of Tate Modern. She completed an MA Fine Art at Central Saint Martin’s in 2006.

Commissioned by The Prince of Wales to paint flora at Highgrove, her plant portraits have been exhibited widely. Fay was elected to the Royal Watercolour Society in 2007 and served as a trustee of Camden Arts Centre and the Victoria Miro Education Trust.

Fay is a member of the Drawing Room Professional Network. She teaches, most recently, at the RCA and Camberwell Art School.

Jeremy Gavron is the author of two non-fiction books and three novels, including The Book of Israel, winner of the Encore Award, and An Acre of Barren Ground. A former foreign correspondent in Africa and India, he lives now in London, and teaches at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.

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