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Hidden Gifts: The Mystery of Angus MacPhee

A Film by Nick Higgins

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HIDDEN GIFTS explores the mysterious relationship between artistic expression and mental illness through the story of Scotsman Angus MacPhee, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1946 and sent to the Craig Dunain Psychiatric Hospital near Inverness.

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Although MacPhee was a patient there for fifty years, in a case of elective mutism he spoke not a single word to any of the hospital staff. The sole expression of "the quiet big man" was his solitary weaving of clothes-including coats, gloves and boots-from grass, samples of which are seen on display in an art gallery.

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The film discusses MacPhee's work as an example of art produced by someone who has escaped social conditioning and who, because he lives in a dream world, has direct access to his unconscious mind, and is therefore intuitively creative, who, indeed, has a compulsion to create.

In addition to video footage of MacPhee late in his life, HIDDEN GIFTS features interviews with Joyce Laing, an art therapist, who discovered his work, staff members at the psychiatric hospital, and Peggy MacPhee, Angus's sister, who recount their experiences with this creator of what Laing refers to as "art extraordinary."

"Makes a contribution to our understanding of creativity and mental illness."- Rob Harle, Leonardo Reviews

"Higgins' film is a beautiful gift, the case study of an ordinary man living a sheltered life in his own reality. Art therapists, students, and anyone in the mental health field will benefit from MacPhee's story. And whether or not Angus MacPhee meant for us to see his work, it is a gift to us."— Ellen Greene Stewart, American Art Therapy Association Journal

2009 WPA Western Psychological Association Conference
Jury Award, 2008 Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival
Best Documentary, 2005 Britspotting Festival
Royal Television Society Programme Awards Nominee
Official Selection, 2005 Parnu Documentary and Anthropology Film Festival
Official Selection, 2005 Monterrey Film Festival

26 minutes / Color
Release: 2008
Copyright: 2005

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Art, Britain, Mental Health, Psychology, Psychiatry, Scotland

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