Britta Von Zweigbergk:



Britta Von Zweigbergk
Britta von Zweigbergk has lived in Kent for many years. Despite the Swedish connections attached to her name she is a long standing self confessed Anglophile.

Now in her eighties and with more time on her hands she is able to pursue her own small practice as an artist and writer. She is very interested in social history, particularly the history of asylums she has been able to pursue her interests in art and writing. She is very interested in social history , particularly the history of Asylums - having worked in one for a number of years, during which time she amassed an extensive collection of photographs, artworks, including clay models and writings from those who used the creative facilities available in the art therapy department at Bexley Hospital in Kent between 1973-1996, including work from the artist Cynthia Pell.

She is currently trying to put these in some sort of order and possibly showing a selection to a wider public through books and exhibitions.

Examples can be found on this website and will be updated yearly. She was pleased to re establish connections and to be asked to be one of the Trustees for Centrepieces ( ) in the autumn of 2014.

Centrepieces is now a charity and an arts organisation which had strong connections with the art therapy department at Bexley Hospital and was formed three years after the department closed in November 1996. The early members, almost all, without exception had attended the open art therapy sessions at Bexley Hospital or had some connection with the hospital.

Centrepieces was originally set up by a group of artists with a Millennium award of £5000 from the National Lottery. It exists to promote recovery and creativity through the artsand presents opportunities for people to participate in community projects and to exhibit and sell their work. It also holds workshops, forums, a yearly auction and studio groups. Photography and creative writing are also encouraged and there are plans to renew longstanding connections with music and the reforming of a group.

The Centrepieces website gives an excellent view of up to date venues, work and exhibitions and in 2023 came the news that the charity had been awarded the Kings Award for Voluntary Services. It is the highest award that a voluntary group in the UK can receive and reflects a very well deserved success in the voluntary sector.

Britta is also interested in the role of Carers, being very involved in supporting her daughters independence in the community. She is disturbed by the seeming reduction in community mental health services and sees a continuing role for voluntary organisations like MIND and others, including charities like Centrepieces to step in to continue to offer ongoing support to those with long term mental health problems.

She moved to Swanley in the 1960's and although at the time not intending to stay too long finds herself still there! A small town but still growing and in the civil parish of Sevenoaks in Kent. Swanley rests on the London/Kent border and despite its close association with Sevenoaks, is under the postal code of the London Borough of Bromley. It is not without its quota of distinguished ex residents - Allan Knott, Kent and England Cricketer was brought up in the town and attended Swanley School as it was called then, as did Mark Steel, English Socialist columnist, author and comedian. Swanley has even had its own pop star - Crispian St. Peter, whose two notable top ten hits were 'You were Always on my Mind' and 'The Pied Piper'.

Originally built on either side of the A20 before the M25 existed, she has vague memories of passing through it en route to the Galleries in London from Folkestone Art School and of its then instantly underwhelming impression on her. Little did she think she would end up as a long term resident many years later.!

One of the advantages of staying in a place a long time however is a gradual familiarity that becomes very comfortable and eventually a distinct plus.

Swanley's population for instance has a down to earth kindness and solidarity which she has come to appreciate, also a prosaic and stoic approach to life and its general difficulties. This has proved helpful in occasional times of crisis. She finds she likes the mix of urban and rural which coincides with her own periodic hankering for the possibility of temporary escape of which there are many possibilities in the area.

In 2019 unexpectedly a time of crisis DID arrive - she discovered she was suffering from Stage 3 breast cancer and she found that life CAN change in an instant. Previously enjoying seemingly good health she now found herself an unwilling member of a very exclusive - club - a club which nobody really wanted to become a member of.

Unwilling membership though had its merits - life suddenly became very much more poignant with the threat of imminently losing it. Spring suddenly became much greener and more appreciated and she DID find those hidden reservoirs of strength, undertaking almost a year of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and just when she emerged, - looking forward to becoming involved with life again the pandemic struck and her damaged immune system demanded isolation.

Unexpectedly with extra time on her hands a burst of creativity became a welcome diversion and she spent the next few years writing the books she had always dreamt of doing. Mostly published by Centrepieces Press and with very small print runs they describe the Asylum, the patients, the art therapy department, life, creativity and the struggling to understand the deeper questions of life and the living of it.

A list of books can be found in subsequent pages. These are available to order or purchase from:

Geoff Norris
Centrepieces Mental Health Art Project
The Lodge
Hall Place
Bourne Road
Bexley Kent

Telephone: 01322554589