Our Portman Clinic recently celebrated its 90th birthday. As part of the celebrations Alla Rubitel, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst at the clinic and a practicing artist, was invited to exhibit her artwork.
Having studied at the Hampstead School of Art and attended an open studio with Nigel Caple, Alla works in a range of mediums including painting, photography, printmaking as well as ceramics. She is interested in examining the creative process, both in art and therapeutic work. Speaking at the exhibition’s private view, Alla shared her gratitude at being invited to exhibit and reflected on the creativity at the heart of the Portman – in the practice of the staff, as well as the service users:
“I am honoured to have been asked to contribute towards the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Portman clinic. It is important to acknowledge that the Portman clinic is a place where creativity is a living core identity of the staff and our patients. It manifests in artistic production, as well as the way we learn from each other.”
The exhibition City Break is a selection of paintings made between 2001–2005 and 2014–2018 featuring cityscapes, landscapes and still life. Although the places depicted are mostly free of people, they convey a sense of being in a space where a moment of silence is about to be temporarily broken. The viewer is invited to view these twilight spaces to reflect, remember and dream.
Speaking of her inspiration for the exhibition, Alla shared how the intensity of professional life often takes over – creating a tension and the need for a more quiet and contemplative state of mind.
“It’s like life on the edges. Life which takes place in the breaks but it’s still an essential part of life. It becomes like a city break; ‘breakaway’ from the city or ‘breaking’ into the city-looking at the surroundings in a fresh way, or taking yourself into nature. These are the situations reflected in my paintings. There is a lot of space which is not populated by people, so there is an opportunity for you as a viewer and me as an artist to inhabit this space and engage with it in a more meditative way. “
“On a daily basis we work with our patients, with all the intensity of the lives which they live and the intensity of trying to understand what’s happening with them; how they’ve travelled from where they’ve been to where they are now. It’s quite an intense encounter. Although these paintings appear to be like empty spaces they are in fact quite intensely populated by what’s going on within them and the viewer. There is also the aspect of travelling, seeing new places, thinking new thoughts, having new impressions. These are new encounters to make sense of and integrate.”