Joyce Laing was both an innovator and an intuitive practitioner who defined much of contemporary art therapy in psychiatry in Scotland. This was a little researched area and no real studies were carried out to explore its long lasting impacts for patients. Joyce began to notice changes while working in a tuberculosis ward and developments in certain patients’ work and began to chart these changes making links between the art works and the patient’s health. Fascinated by this Joyce wrote a paper on this phenomenon. This caught the eye of professor Malcolm Millar opening a new innovative psychiatric clinic (the ross clinic) in Aberdeen and he invited Joyce to carry out and evaluate patients responses when working with paints. This marked the beginning of a long career which would not only see her develop extremely successful art therapy programs in hospitals and prisons, notably barlinnie special unit, but also to start her own collection and gallery of Scottish outsider art called “Art Extraordinary”.
Joyce is an advocate of the art brut school – some would say this is pure outsider art as defined by Jean Dubuffet who helped coin the phrase and is considered a collector, an innovator and the main advocate of this art form in Europe. Joyce is the premier Scottish Collector and expert and her amazing collection of Scottish Outsider art is the only one of its kind in the country. It is currently archived in Glasgow Museums collection vaults.