Prozac could dull the edge of angst-ridden artists’ work

Just as we don‘t seem to get religion as bad as the Americans. Prozac-fever never happened in qtrite the same way in the UK. But as part of BBCZ's week of mental health-related programmes. The Late Show has conducted a fascinating. and almost certainly scientifically woithless study of the effect of the drug on creativity. ‘Fi'eud argued that artists work to express their angst and the film explores that idea.‘ says psychologist ()livcr James. who produced I’i'urui‘ Diary.

The effect of Prozac on four artists with histories of depression is examined in the film. A fifth. writer Michael Bracewell. whose recent book SI Rue/rel was dubbed the first Prozac novel. stopped taking the drug that he has been prescribed for the last two years. He suffered debilitating panic attacks within weeks of stopping. while in each of the other studies there was a noticeable effect on the artists' output. according to James.

Former New Order singer Bernard

Prozac man: Electronic’s Bernard Sumner beat writer's block

Sumner had been trying to write songs for his side-project Iilectronic for over a year but was suffering from a total block. After four weeks on Pro/ac. the words started llowing. thoriin they

were less gloomy than many of Siiiiiiiei'K pre\ ioiis lyrics. Novelist Alice 'l’hoiiias lillis. whose husband died recently. only started iiioui'niiig his death once she started taking Pro/ac. ‘She was much more able to direct her aggression outward iii a constructive way.‘ says James. Ironically this had a negative effect on ljllis‘s writing. which had clearly been an emotional outlet. James makes no scientific claims for this study. but he does believe it illustrates the link between creativity and some forms of mental illness. ‘lt‘s quite clear that a number of artists have pronounced mood swings and they are at their most creative when slightly elated.‘ agrees Dr Ian Pullen. secretary of the Royal (‘ollege of Psychiatrists in Scotland. ‘hi the periods of depression during which artists are blocked. they

may well benefit frorii anti- depi'essaiits.‘

Pullen is at a loss to know why Pro/ac

; captured the imagination of the I f American public in quite the way it did. i H. l5/HII (HI BM '3.

In his experience. the drug has no effect on people who are free of depression. making it an unlikely candidate for the ‘lifestyle drug‘ it has been heralded as in America. Stranger still. Prozac is only one of four drugs from the same group which have very similar anti- depressant effects. ‘I work closely with (iPs and my impression is that it is used purely for depressive illness.‘ says Pullen. "There‘s no evidence of it being used to enhance the well-being of non-

; depressives.‘

James agrees that it is not a ‘happy

pill‘ but questions the long-term effect

on artistic output if creative depi'essivcs take drugs like Pro/ac. ‘lt‘s inconceivable that Dostoevsky would have written (’riim' mid I’iiiiix/iiiii'ii/ if he'd been on Pro/ac.‘ says James. 'Ar‘tists may become happier people btit they may produce less great art. Society will feel the side-effects. not the individual.’ (liddie Gibb)

/’rn:ui' Diary is on .llmiiluy / illuy (ll

Bllly Joe Shaver: ountry legend

Country round

up for Glasgow

How the Royal Concert Hall has proved that the Glaswegian love of country and western can be converted into ticket sales, Mayiest’s tormer music dude reckons the time is right to launch a festival hoe-down in the city.

Last year’s Maylest programme boasted a number of country acts, including Vince Gill, who was due to make his UK debut in Glasgow though ended up playing Wembley lirst. Music programmer Billy Kelly can take at least some of the credit tor bringing Gill across the Atlantic.

Now with Maytest’s music content slimmed down, Kelly has turned his attention to the Big Big Country which was given £20,000 development money by the city council’s performing arts deparbiient. ‘We are pleased to be able to support this initiative which brings major artists to Glasgow,’ says the council’s head of arts development Charles Bell. The three- day testival in June is being held in the under-used 0ld Fruitmarket venue, with country veteran Billy Joe Shaver as the headliner.

‘We were aware that there was detinitely a market for roots music,’ says Kelly. ‘We tested the water last year at Maylest by bringing over country artists.’

(Eddie Gibb)

The Big Big Country is from Fri 2-Sun 4 June.

4 The List 21 Apr-4 May I995

. Knee massacre and now preserved in 3 Glasgow, highlights a dilemma tacing ji museum curators throughout Britain.

A delegation from the Lakota tribe

visited Glasgow last week to put pressure on Glasgow Museums to hand

back the shirt, but it seems likely that its return will be resisted, at least in the short term.

However, the tact that the ‘ghost dance shirt’ is regarded as a burial artelact by the Lakota lends weight to the claim tor its return. Though all ethnography curators are anxious to avoid the depletion of their collections by agreeing to the return of exhibits to their original owners, human remains and related burial

The dispute over ownership of a native American shirt, believed to have been worn by a warrior at the Wounded

objects are regarded as a special case. ‘The concept of indigenous peoples

is now much more to the tore in the : world and museums are having to deal with this problem more and more,’

says Museums Association director Mark Taylor. ‘lt’s an incredibly inexact

3 science and it’s difficult to make hard

and last rules for every museum. Some have already made the decision to return human remains.’

Glasgow’s warrior shirt, which was

; acquired over a century ago, will be

the subject at further negotiations but may end up on some kind of long loan

I to the Lakota. ‘We might be able to

agree on a programme of mutual co-

operation,’ says history curator % Antonia Lovelace. ‘We don’t expect ; the request to go away.’ (Eddie Gibb)

Museum tries to hold onto warrior’s shirt

[I i . i i 2 2‘ . 24': .l; at ' “will?! . fl; '3 , I Q4 1' “If. a I I.

The lakota shirt tale continues

Fling kitted

i out for a

tartan special

Jean-Paul (Jaultier )o ularised kilts as l P

1 a fashion accessory as part of his iiien~ iii-skirts obsession; now another French '

designer is picking up on the tartan theme.

Andriamparany. an lidinburgh-based clothes designer. has produced a new collection. ‘Sons et (‘ouleurs A

Highland lnvasion‘ which is launched

next week during this year s Hing. A f temporary catwalk in Edinburgh‘s

Assembly Rooms will be decked out in a blaze of customised tartans. African and Eastern prints. ‘It is time to show that fashion in Scotland is really happening.‘ says Andriainparany. ‘The Highland Invasion is intended to reflect the multi-cultural spirit of Scotland.‘ Alongside the models wearing Andriamparany‘s threads, there will be

Highland Invasion: sons et couleurs

compere Filippo music from Scottish tropical dance band Makossa and a couple of drag acts. "li‘asbion should be a community event.‘ he says. ‘What better place to see it than a community arts festival like the l’liiig.‘

This year's District Council- sponsored l-‘ling features the usual mixed bag of commtinity-bascd performances. musical events and days otit. Counter-balancing the local history sessions aimed at older folk is a series of techno/rave workshops designed to



hpr wannabe DJs develop their mixing skills.

This is the tenth anniversary of the liliiig which was started as a way of

offering a programme of community

arts events. It is widely i'cgarcd as the district council‘s attempt to balance the perception of the l‘d‘lllgC and International l’cstival. which it also funds. as arts events aimed at people outside the city.

Under the strapline ‘My Town. Your Town . . . lixploring lidinburgh's (‘oriitiiiities'. the l‘ling's ten-(lay programme ofevents seeks to bring together arts groups of all ages. from the city's diverse ethnic communities. This year the Fling incorporates the "Transnational Festival for Gypsy and 'l‘ravelling People' which brings together travelling people from all over Scotland and abroad. lt finishes with an international gypsy ccilidli on Sat 29 April at the Assembly Rooms.

(Ellie Carr)

Sims i't (bu/curs is (I! I/lt' Assent/21y Rooms. Iii/inluiigli. on Fri 28 Apr; 7/mi-miiliiig/il. l-‘rn'jiirrlii'r iii/imitation (III (III other Hing (’l'('IlI.S‘. which start m1 27.4121: (‘u/l 0/3] 52‘) 4878.