PP/MB Maurice Bridgeland
Maurice Bridgeland, author of the incomparable Pioneer Work With Maladjusted Children (Staples Press, 1971), began his career, so to speak, as a child in a special school in Ramsgate, with a vibrant professional life afterwards that included housemastering and teaching at Midhurst Grammar School in Hampsire; teaching in a brand-new Grammar School in Crawley (which he has called "another good experience in working with disturbed children, because all the [other] grammar schools that had these bright Crawley children chucked out the ones they didn't want...); teaching and housemastering at Lendrick Muir in Scotland; headteachering at progressive school Frensham Heights; and working with disturbed children and young people in Portsmouth.
In February 2006 he gave 24 hours to the Archive and Study Centre. He began on Friday evening with an art and spoken poetry performance called "I Find it Hard to Speak", sharing the uncommon communications of the young people he worked with in Plymouth. On the following morning he shared clinical discussions arising from the performance with those who stayed overnight. It was a powerful event live - and a powerful event recorded.
Archive volunteer Elaine Boyling - whose inner enthusiasm and excitement ultimately led her to a successful PhD. in the Centre for the History of Medicine at the University of Birmingham - helped to process the slides of young people's art which Maurice Bridgeland had used, watching the video-recording of the event at the same time. She hadn't been at the event itself, but wrote:
Listening on headphones, Maurice Bridgeland’s voice filled up much more room than the small space of the video screen. It filled up much more space than the conference room that the lectures had taken place in. It wasn’t just Maurice Bridgeland’s voice anyway, as much as he brought the talk to life. It was the words he was saying, poems written by the young people, and in the other lecture Maurice’s stories of a few of the people and their cases and experiences with therapy....
"When I said it was difficult to write this without reading anything Maurice Bridgeland has written, the trouble is that I want to. I liked the way he talked, and the things he observed about the people. In the time it took to scan the box of slides into the computer I watched one video at least twice and the other one once and a bit. I got a little addicted to hearing some parts again. The writings and paintings dealt with identity, and position in a world, in space and to other people. They questioned relations of gender, love, violence and God. There was isolation, sadness, anger, confusion, bliss and freedom. Sometimes it was the simplicity of being honest that made them compelling, other times it was a nasty twist of humour. I stayed at the archives later than I probably should have, finishing scanning all the slides, to see all the paintings. I think I was worried if I missed one I would be missing a fundamental truth about life, or at least the perception of life. Because in the art of those people brought together by Maurice Bridgeland there was always a struggle to understand, to look for something underneath and behind the surface, but at the same time to acknowledge that to absolutely commit yourself to looking for the Truth might mean accepting that it doesn’t exist."