Picture of crying Boris Johnson painted by his mother to feature in exhibition

Where is Mama? shows glimpse into difficult period of prime minister’s life

<p>Painting of Boris Johnson crying by his mother sheds light on mental health</p>

Painting of Boris Johnson crying by his mother sheds light on mental health

An emotional portrait of the child Boris Johnson painted by the prime minister’s mother is to star in a new exhibition about mental health.

The painting called Where is Mama? by the prime minister’s late mother, Charlotte Johnson Wahl, will hang in the exhibition, A way from home: Bethlem artists on longing and belonging, at Bethlem Museum of the Mind.

The museum’s galleries sit in the world’s oldest psychiatric hospital.

The painting tells a story of the difficult time the Johnsons’ experienced when Ms Johnson was separated from her four young children - Boris, Rachel, Leo and Jo.

An emotional portrait painted by the prime minister’s mother showing him as a child is to star in a new exhibition about mental health

Ms Wahl was away from her family while being treated in south London’s Maudsley Hospital for her compulsive behaviours. In the painting, all of the children are linking arms while large teardrops fall from their eyes.

The art also depicts Stanley Johnson, the prime minister’s father, holding hands with his wife and his children.

With longing for home being the theme of the show, the painting is meant to capture the essence of the museum - which has a history of 200 years of mental health practice on site.

Colin Gale, the museum’s director, told The Guardian: “Charlotte had a long association with the museum, which has two of her other works in its permanent collection.

“For us, she is a significant painter first, and then the mother of some accomplished people, second.”

Of Ms Wahl’s art, Mr Gale said that her expression of deep anxiety “is striking” and added that some of her paintings show the “pain and often disappointment with mental health care”.

He also pointed to how the painting could be emblematic of any mother’s story at some time in her life.

Ms Wahl was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 40 and later became president of the European Commission for Human Rights.

She died at the age of 79 in September 2021.

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