Category Archives: Art Therapy

“All Divided Selves” – Luke Fowler’s film about RD Laing

Art of Psychiatry event: film screening of “All Divided Selves” followed by Q&A with director Luke Fowler, Prof Antony David and Dr Vaughan Bell
Date: Thursday 16 October
Time: 6-8:15pm (screening approx 6-7.30pm)
Venue: Wolfson lecture theatre Institute of Psychiatry

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Luke Fowler, in discussion with Professor Tony David and Dr Vaughan Bell from the Institute of Psychiatry.

All Divided Selves explores the life and legacy of the controversial Scottish psychiatrist, R D Laing (1927-1989). Laing famously argued that normality entailed adjusting to an alienating and depersonalizing world. Thus, those society labels as ‘mentally ill’ are in fact ‘hyper-sane’ travellers. The film concentrates on Laing and his colleagues as they tried to acknowledge the importance of social environment and disturbed interactions within institutions in the aetiology of human distress and suffering. Using a collage of archival material the film portrays the vacillating responses to Laing’s radical views and the less forgiving responses to his latter career shift; from eminent psychiatrist to enterprising celebrity.

This is an open meeting – all are welcome (including psychiatry trainees, service users, IoP staff, and members of public).
Wine and snacks provided. Look forward to seeing you there!
About Luke Fowler and RD Laing:
Luke Fowler:
RD Laing:
All Divided Selves:

Further information:

The Inner Self: Drawings from the Subconscious at CGP London

Nick Blinko

‘The Inner Self: Drawings from the Subconscious’ is a group show of the work of seven Outside In artists all living within Greater London and working on the theme of the subconscious. Predominantly black and white in colour and using drawing as the primary medium, the works were selected from 154 submissions to Outside In’s open call out earlier in the year.

The selectors included CGP London Director Ron Henocq; Vivienne Roberts, Curator at the Julian Hartnoll Gallery; Outsider Artist Nick Blinko; and Outside In Manager Jennifer Gilbert. From these seven artists, one will be selected by Vivienne Roberts to receive a solo show at the Julian Hartnoll Gallery in Central London in November 2014. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of events, talks and workshops organised by Outside In and its London partner organisations.

Work by the Outside In artists will sit alongside Outsider Artist Nick Blinko’s minutely detailed monochrome pieces. Macabre and intense; Nick’s images depict microscopically detailed interconnecting worlds and figures such as skulls, broken dolls, imps, foetuses and precisely handwritten notes. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of events, talks and workshops organised by Outside In’s partners.

The artists exhibiting are:
Jan Arden
Wrestling with the Bull
From an early age, Jan liked to copy cartoons and comic book characters before moving on to still life and portraits in secondary school. For many years he studied mime, dance, singing and drama before coming back to drawing and painting in 2009. Jan likes to combine Celtic knot-work with African faces and South American Shamanistic Aztec priests, people, animals, symbols and shapes. He creates what he sees on the paper after moving the biro in dance like movements, eyes closed and reaching into the subconscious for inspiration and guidance.

Imma Maddox
Imma is predominantly a textile artist, as well as being a survivor of mental illness. Alongside her drawings such as ‘Foot’, Imma creates icons, which she has been painting for about fifteen years. For these, she uses traditional methods dating back to Roman times.

Nigel Kingsbury
Nigel’s fine, delicate portraits depict women as mystical goddesses attired in glamorous ball gowns, decadent outfits and floating dresses. Each picture is unique, sometimes drawn from memory, sometimes of those in close proximity, but always of women he likes and is inspired by. This fascination with the female form inspires Nigel to create drawings with a frequently mysterious and eerie quality, although his idolisation of the figure in such a rare and carefully observed manner is far removed from contemporary issues of gender stereotyping.

Hannah Swain
Hannah was diagnosed with Bipolar at the age of 50 after the death of her mother. She began creating her works during her time in hospital, producing images of angels that embodied her mother, keeping her memories alive.

Billy Weston
Billy Nut
At the age of 14, Billy had a brain haemorrhage which resulted in the loss of his drawing right hand. He never regained the use of his right side, but relearned his natural artistic talent through his left hand. Since then, Billy has carried notebooks with him, drawing and painting life as it goes through his head.

Pat Mear
Feeling Water
Pat has specialised in fine art painting as a result of attending Croydon College of Art in the 1960s-70s but has since moved away from original hard-edged brainwork towards more intuitive work. Her other works include fine line Indian ink animal drawings as well as an exploration of imaginary landscapes on cork; an environmentally renewable source.

Terence Wilde
Definitions of Normal
Terence studied printed textiles at Winchester School of Art, graduating in 1986 with a First Class Degree. Creativity is a visual language that helps convey a sense of history and the reality of the past for himself and other adult survivors. It offers respite through escape, and is key in his spiritual journey. He currently works as an art and textiles instructor within the Occupational Therapy department at the Bethlem Royal Hospital.

CGP London – Southwark Park – London – SE16 2UA
Tel: +44 (0)20 7237 1230

Opening times:
Wed – Sun, 11am – 5pm

Transport information:
Southwark Park is approximately 9 minutes walk from Canada Water station on the Jubilee & London Overground lines. Buses 1, 47, 188, 199, 225, 381, 395, P12, C10.

Creativity and Social Support in Mental Health

Mental Spaghetti has been cited as a reference in Roberta McDonnell’s new book, ‘Creativity and Social Support in Mental Health‘.

Roberta says, “Hopefully my new book will add to the voices trying to promote positive mental health recovery and a better deal for service users. A short summary of the findings and recommendations in a free e-book will be available soon and I will be happy to forward to anyone interested. Here’s a link in the meantime to the blurb and contents.”

If you’d like to get a link for the e-book, leave a comment and I will forward your interest to Roberta.

Anxiety Arts Festival 2014

Barbican, South London Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Freud Museum, Wigmore Hall, Dulwich Picture Gallery…
Visual art, music, dance, theatre and film

“Anxiety Arts Festival 2014 is a London-wide festival that explores the way anxiety and art interact.

From the sense of unease created by a Hitchcock film, to new commissions in music by Jocelyn Pook and art by Bonnie Camplin, leading artists explore their own anxieties and chronicle the neurosis of modern life – offering us insights into our own anxieties.

The correlation between creativity and mental illness is well documented, and the rapid social, cultural and political changes of the last century mean that anxiety is one of today’s most prevalent mental disorders. While this central aspect of our contemporary condition is reflected in the arts, this is the first time the link has been explored in detail by bringing artists together with leading mental health professionals and academics. Curated by the Mental Health Foundation, the Anxiety Arts festival questions our definitions of normality and acknowledges the creative power of anxiety through music, film, art, dance and theatre.

The Anxiety film season sees screenings at the Barbican and the Picturehouse cinemas, the National Portrait Gallery and the ICA, ranging from classic tension-builders – such as Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Lodger’ and Andre Tarkovsky’s ‘Solaris’ – to recent explorations of the psyche. The season gives a brief story of anxiety in cinema, revealing the roles that have given character to our anxieties, such as the hysterical housewife and the melancholy migrant. Throughout, psychologists are brought together with cinema experts and performers to get to grips with what cinema can reveal about anxiety. Rare screenings – such as Peter Robinson’s documentary about RD Laing’s radical Archway community, Asylum – will screen alongside new work looking at modern issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxieties around issues of race and home.

The Visual Arts programme explores the flexible and often contested boundaries between sanity and insanity, as well as the social and cultural anxieties associated with social labels. New commissions exhibitions, performances, residencies and artists’ films, at South London Gallery, Gasworks and BFI reflect on what is considered ‘normal’ and the associated pressure of fitting one’s subjective experiences within this frame.”

The full programme for Anxiety Arts 2014 is launched today, check it out at

Bedford Happy!

A mental health related arts project! In Bedford! Where I’m from! Ticking all the boxes here, press release below, read on folks…

Is Bedford the unhappiest place in Great Britain? The national press may think so, but Bedford Creative Arts think differently.

Bedford Happy is a project commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts. Kent artist Dan Thompson will be looking at the town, and working with local groups to find out where people are happiest – and what it is that gives them a happy buzz. A day-long artwork event will be produced celebrating Bedford’s happiness on Saturday 29th March. There will be a trail of interventions to make people a little bit happier, some special markers of happy memories and a celebration of the shops and cafes that are making people happy. “Bedford is an interesting place, full of quirky stories and interesting places, Bedford Happy is a great opportunity to explore what makes such an interesting town tick,” says Dan.

Dawn Giles, Chief Executive of BCA commented, “We’re delighted to have commissioned ‘placeshaker’ Dan to create art with the people of Bedford. We’ll be creating something special; a day of happiness, a game played across the town centre’s underused spaces that will celebrate the people of our town’s hidden talents and interests.”

Artist/activist Dan Thompson has won an accolade of awards most commonly known for instigating the cleanup of the 2011 Brixton riots. Visit Dan’s website to find out more information.

Follow #bedfordhappy on Twitter, Like the Bedford Happy Facebook page or visit Bedford Creative Arts website at

Bedford Happy
Final Event Day 29th March 2014, Bedford Town Centre

Press Contact:
Jo Hudson-Lett – Mobile: 07974 331029 /

Madge Gill Panel Discussion

Art from the Margins has notified me that a panel discussion on the life of Madge Gill has been uploaded to youtube.

From AFTM:
“Chaired By David O Flynn from Bethlem Hospital, and featuring Roger Cardinal, the coiner of the term Outsider Art, as well as Vivienne Roberts who researched into the mediumistic side of art for the retrospective. Reflecting on her work is the main focus of the discussion, as well as Outsider Art more broadly.”

Madge Gill: Medium and Visionary


‘Celebrating emotional and mental wellbeing through the arts.’

5 October 2013 – 26 January 2014

“With no training and no aspirations to fame, Madge Gill (1882 – 1961) produced thousands of secretive ink drawings during her lifetime. Her work remains an enigma: is it true she was inspired by an ethereal spirit guide? Was she genuinely in touch with ‘the beyond’, or was art-making a form of self therapy?”

View the Art and Soul blog

An essay on art & medication by Karen Sorensen

“I am schizoaffective, badly disabled, and I have devoted my life to making oil paintings.  Two years ago I started lowering my antipsychotic medication for health reasons.  I believe that my art changed.  I believe that I am more creative on lower medication.  Seeing my art change has motivated me to stay on very little medication despite some serious mental discomfort from symptoms of my illness. I feel that I am closer to insanity, yet more creative.  I have shown you work to compare.

“Paradise” was created on a high dose of anti-psychotic medication.  Two anti-psychotic medications in fact.  The planning of this work was difficult.  I struggled to find images. I found the final product slightly unusual, but mostly bland.

‘Paradise’, Karen Sorensen

“Adam, Eve, and the Devil” and “Tea Time” were both created as my medication was cut drastically.  They both are at a point where I have dipped under therapeutic level of only one antipsychotic medication.   They are both twice the size of  “Paradise”.  As I planned these pieces the creative ideas came much more quickly to my mind.  Newness of form, newness of concept, appeared in my mind like magic.  I could “see” images in my imagination with clarity like never before.  I could paint twice as many hours a day.   Probably I like the highly detailed style in these low-dose medication artwork more because I sense a pulse of chaos in them.  I sense energy.  It is the chaos and energy of a mind that has been released to much more of the madness within.

I am now much more fascinated with my creation.  Pleased as an artist, this reinforced in the identity of being an artist and boosted self-esteem.  Freed from the foggy high dose of anti-psychotic medication my whole life, as I lived it day to day, was filled with more energy.  I felt sharper and smarter.  My husband noted that my ability to articulate ideas, and have critical thinking, drastically improved on low dose medication.

Socially I became more withdrawn and isolated as the medication was lowered, slowly, bit by bit.  My emotions became more volatile.  My husband had to adjust to a person who was in his words “less childlike”, who slept less, was more emotionally fragile, and who saw more reasons and causes to be distressed.  I no longer cared about attending social events in my town and there are days at a time that I never leave the apartment.  I lie in bed a lot, unable to stand other than to go to the bathroom.  Family interactions affected me negatively me more than ever and I obsess over emotional hurts in the past and the present.  However, I believe that isolation and obsessiveness are necessary to create works of art that are different and unique from mainstream subject matter.

‘Adam, Eve and The Devil’, Karen Sorensen

Often, in American review of Outsider Art, European schizophrenic artists who lived in insane asylums of the past are held up as examples of purity of vision and masters of creativity.  It has been noted by an New York University professor in a paper that she published on-line for her class, that the schizophrenic masters were not on medication.  Her thesis is that schizophrenic artists today who are on medication are incapable of creating work at the level of quality of past non-medicated schizophrenics.  Some schizophrenic artists who are put on anti-psychotic medication can’t create art at all.

I believe that a lot of American schizophrenics do create art, but I have noticed myself that it is often not with consistency or idiosyncratic vision.  Vision that is bizarre and obsessive don’t happen much to modern day schizophrenic artists.  I believe that they don’t labor long on their creations, their delusions are not fueling the subject matter of the art in a subliminal way. Modern schizophrenics will expend a lot of energy participating in the little happy moments and diversions of mainstream society because of the medication they take.  I believe that more happiness means less top quality art.  This is not true for a normal artist, but it probably is true for a person with a severe mental illness.

When I was young, I lived in a mental institution for two years.  I can testify that the conditions of life in the old style hospitals where humans were warehoused was so boring, that any mind that had the creative impulse would WANT to create, would be MOTIVATED to create, because LIFE WAS MONOTONOUS AND DULL.   What modern day medications give is a normalization of social interactions and connection to reality.  Now, to me as an artist, I find that these medical gifts of drug induced health divert my attention away from art making activities.  So I reject most gifts of medication and exist in a twilight state that parallels in condition, both mental and physical, of what I experienced being institutionalized young.  My life is simple.  It has to be moronically simple in order for me to have the concentration and motivation for what I make.

‘Tea Time’, Karen Sorensen

I don’t make art for fun.  I am not expecting life to be fun.  I make art for the sake of creating beauty.  Life for beauty.  Not life in the pursuit of happiness.  There’s a difference.

I feel I was freed when I drastically lowered my medication and gave up on having any semblance of a normal, well rounded life.  And then I became an artist to the bone and core of my being.  I have embraced that my insanity is both a creative gift and a tormenting burden.  That’s just a fact of my life, like my eyes are brown.  I have an off-kilter mentality and I’m not going to dull it down with medication.  I take just enough medication so that I’m not too tormented and try to kill myself.

Yes, making this choice is serious business.  But my life is my own to do with what I please.”

Flight of Ideas at Bethlem Gallery

A Bethlem Gallery showcasing the innovative arts in health initiatives across Europe, 2 – 25 October 2013
10 October World Mental Health Day

“To celebrate world mental health day 2013 the Bethlem Gallery is staging an exhibition of postcards made by artists staying and working in hospitals across Europe. Flight of Ideas is an international collaboration between innovative arts practice, studio spaces and galleries based within psychiatric healthcare in Croatia, France, Italy and the UK. All four organisations are unique within their own countries. Flight of Ideas celebrates their shared ideals framing them within the context of each nation’s system of mental health care. These differing institutions all facilitate creative activity as part of the recovery process during a person’s time in hospital and support professional development of these artists beyond the hospital setting.

Montfavet_Avignon_France_3Bethlem Royal Hospital_Terence Wilde








(Work from a French contributor, left, and from Terence Wilde, right)

At the heart of the exhibition are the artists themselves. Their extraordinary talent will be presented within the size of a postcard but is broad and varied in the range of style, media and technique employed. Artists working within the hospital environments range from having formal arts training to the self-taught. Their work shows, better than any document, their identity as artists and their right to lay claim to that status.

Flight of Ideas is produced and hosted by the Bethlem Gallery, a well known contemporary gallery space in the grounds of the oldest psychiatric hospital in the world still functioning today. The gallery and museum’s regular exhibitions and events have made it a vital contributor to the UK’s debate on creativity, mental health and art history. It is an important access point for the general public, patients, hospital staff and media to meet and communicate regardless of whether they are within or without the world of mental health care.”

Opening Event: Wednesday 2nd October, 3 – 6pm
Exhibition continues: Thursday 3rd – 25th October
Opening times: Wednesday – Friday 11am – 6pm Gallery and Museum will be open Saturday 12th October 11am – 5pm
Address: The Bethlem Gallery, Bethlem Royal Hospital, Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3BX
Nearest British Rail: Eden Park / East Croydon
Website: |

Free Space Gallery present Art & Healing

I popped over to Kentish Town Health Centre last week with a friend to check out Free Space’s touring exhibition, Art and Healing. My friend is doing a write-up for the site, so until then I’ll just alert you to its presence and insist you go and have a look at it before it ends on the 19th October.

“An exhibition of work by art therapists and their clients showcases the diverse practice of art therapy and the wide range of people who see it as having changed their lives for the better.”

Free Space are running a free event on Thursday 3rd October…

• Make a creative X-Ray of your body Thursday 3rd October, 4-6.30pm (3 slots)
Art therapy activity exploring the connection between mind and body.
Facilitated by Art Psychotherapist, Maria Galvez
Limited places. Please contact the Free Space Gallery to book.

Ali Fisher

“I suffer from mental illness myself and am still in the services since 1996. I am now 36 years old and have used art to cope with my illness of schizoaffective disorder.

Here is some of my art done in oil, acrylic and charcoal. This painting is called ‘A soul of entrapment’, hence the fist grasping hold of that fine line of light between reality and unreality, the soul going upwards towards the lighter side, the more positive.

This next picture is done in charcoal. I call that one ‘Judgement’, as the life after death, as you can see the skeleton bowing in front of his judge, whether to accept him as a angel into the next life.

This final one I call ‘Hope’, after suffering from psychosis. It was a dream so I decided to paint that dream, and that is done in oil paint. As you can see the hand reaching for the light, guess you can say the light at the end of the tunnel, as I was trying to block out the voices.

Hope you enjoy.”

Send a postcard to the world: an innovative online disability campaign

This week we have a guest post by Beth from United Response, who contacted me recently about Postcards from the Edges…

Just a few decades ago many people with disabilities or mental health needs were locked away from the rest of Britain in institutions, their voices ignored and their stories unheard. United Response, which is now celebrating 40 years of challenging injustice, want to rectify that.

Postcards from the Edges gives anyone whose life has been impacted by disability or mental health the chance to speak to the world in a postcard – using words, photographs, art or anything that captures the imagination. The website ( and hub of the project was launched at the beginning of February.

The postcards website is where all submitted postcards can be viewed and shared. It contains a variety of postcards demonstrating a vast spectrum of creativity; from political statements to doodles.

One postcard submitted was by an 84 year old man with mental health needs. He described it, simply, as capturing ‘what’s in my head’. Asked about its resemblance to the great Italian Lakes, he smiled and confirmed he had been to Lake Maggiore as a young man – this memory still clearly burning bright inside him.

Another postcard entitled ‘See the child’ shows a child having fun at a playground. Liz, the card creator and mother of the child, said she wanted it to show ‘the joy of the moment’. She longs for people to treat children with autism with as much compassion as they would a child with a more visible disability.

Matthew submitted a postcard called ‘Being disabled does not make me inspirational’. He said that he is frustrated by people seeing him doing normal things and finding them inspirational simply because he has a disability and uses a wheelchair.

Later this year, exhibitions in London, Bristol, Newcastle and Liverpool will showcase a selection of the postcards.

United Response is a top 100 national disability, supporting people to fulfil their dreams and to live as independently as possible. This year marks forty years of providing learning disabilities support and championing the rights of people with disabilities.

You can find out more about the project here:

You can get involved in this project simply by creating a postcard. Either request a postcard pack by emailing or go to the website and click ‘create a card’ to upload or create a card online.

A call for mental health activists

WEGO Health are looking for contributors…

“My name is Susan and I head up the WEGO Health Activist Network – a place where bloggers, tweeters, and facebook leaders come together to share information, learn from one another, and find tools to further their advocacy within the online health community.

As you may know, May is National Mental Health Month and host to Children’s Mental Health Week and WEGO Health is interested in working with Health Activists in this community to help raise awareness and educate our other Health Activists. I’m reaching out to you today to see if you might be interested in getting involved by submitting a guest post or joining our Roundtable discussion to share your story and/or get other Health Activists involved. You can sign up for either or both below.”

Guest Posting:
Roundtable discussion:

Exhibition: Christmas Crackers

Hello! Friends in East London and Essex should definitely check this exhibition out, but no matter where you live, if you are up for travelling, then please try to make it down. This is a great opportunity to see service users’ work in an exhibition. Below is the press release and a link to the invitation to the Private View. I will be attending the PV and I hope to see you there!

“‘Christmas Crackers’ is brought to you by the members of Thinkarts.

Our winter exhibition is a platform of over 70 pieces of work both 2d and 3d. All of the work is handmade and a large majority of it will be for sale via CREST Waltham Forest. With Christmas nearing in why not pop along to the see if you can pick up an alternative present and support the members of Thinkarts.

Thinkarts was developed to offer arts-related events, projects and vocational opportunities for people who have experienced mental ill health.

In November 2011, responsibility for Thinkarts was transferred to CREST, a grass-roots community organisation with forty years’ experience of developing local services such as a mental health befriending service.

There is also a free coffee morning in the Gallery most Thursday to find out more about the coffee morning call the BLC directly on 020 8724 8710

If you would like to join the thinkarts mailing list or find out more about what we are doing and how to get involved then please contact Alan Horne
of CREST.”

Exhibition Details:
At The Gallery, Ground Floor, Barking Learning Centre, 2 Town Square, IG11 7NB.
(I’m unsure of opening times, so please call the learning centre)

Link to the Private View (PDF – download invite to print)

For more information check out:
Barking Learning Centre Gallery

Matt Howard

“I am a service user from Accrington, I have been a service user for approximately 2 years after I was forced to leave my employment due to a physical disability. This unfortunately was the trigger for my increasing depression and anxiety.

Over the past 2 years I have been subjected to every kind of therapy I could imagine however the only thing apart from the support of my friends and loved ones that has helped me to manage is my increased love of photography. This started as nothing more than taking a few snaps of my travels whilst working as an international coach driver (the job I was forced to leave) but has grown with me throughout probably what are the darkest moments of my life. My increased passion for this art has shown me that there is a whole new side to me that I never knew existed.

I was never any good at art and to this day I still can’t draw or paint but I have found that with a little help from a magical box, I too can create beautiful images. I now look at art in a completely new light an with a new found understanding. It has brought me a whole new circle of friends and companions who I can share new experiences with, and slowly I am starting to enjoy my new self and to believe that I have a purpose and an identity again. I have also been fortunate enough to use my new-found skills to help others in similar situations to myself, as well as being featured in a couple of exhibitions and local arts and heritage projects.

I continue to recieve support for my mental health issues through Hyndburn community restart but I feel that there is now a light at the end of the tunnel (albeit quite a way off yet).

The Agony – Perry Barclay-Goddard

“THE AGONY started as twelve piece visual opus that allowed me to
record and process the journey of my recovery. Divergent from my
continued development as an artist these works have been fundamental
to my personal reconstruction. Having grown to 20+ individual pieces,
the series has not end or definitive number. As with my journey, THE
AGONY remains a work in progress.

Intended as a personal self reflection THE AGONY has already drawn
considerable attention, primarily from those navigating their own
journeys of recovery.

An unforeseen outcome of developing THE AGONY has been the discussions
initiated by my children. These pieces have providing a focal point,
from which they have been able to ask questions and develop a stronger
understand of who their father is.

This collection of original works covers a continuum of emotions from
desperation to hope, from surrender to rebirth. Each piece demands the
viewer evaluate their own internal turmoil to achieve a heightened
sense of self awareness. From the smaller intimate pieces to the
larger more powerful pieces THE AGONY records the journey of recovery
shared by many.”

– Perry Barclay-Goddard, 2012

Bold and Indie, the art of Maree.

Today’s post comes from Maree, author of Bold and Indie. Maree is an ‘emerging bipolar artist’, having been diagnosed in June 2011 with bipolar type 1. In her blog bio, Maree says “Bold & Indie started half way between Central Victoria and Florence. The artist behind Bold & Indie, Maree lives with her beautiful family, rescued horses and happy pups. She draws from her Bi Polar Disorder, Cancer survival journey and life lessons learned as a source of inspiration that comes with living with the unremitting disability. Art meditation with colour, composition and layout is used. Maree is continually inspired to paint the world, in various points of view, tones, colours, and shades from the inside out.”

I have some work from her gallery to share with you, and also an interesting blog post on living her life with bipolar type 1.

“It has been established over the many months that I have a mental illness / disability. I have learned over the years particularly during my cancer diagnosis that we cannot control the cards we are dealt, but we can certainly choose how we play the hand. I am happy to say that for now, I have read my last Bi Polar Disorder library book. I have stopped “Google-ing” and saving “pdf” scholarly medical articles on mental illness. My visits to online chat forums on mental illness have trickled to cessation. I have visited all the relevant and not so relevant websites and am armed with all the facts that I need, now its time to live life with the disorder/illness/disability and find out through experience what it all means.

When my dear partner was also diagnosed with a similar disorder a few years ago, we decided then not to be defined by a label. My husband continues to live in this essence and continues to be my role model, my guide, my confidant and my personal hero. He is my Bi Polar champion!

I have sat for seven months.

I have rocked. I have listened. I have cried. I have talked. I have yelled. I have grieved. I have photographed. I have discussed. I have read. I have browsed. I have raged. I have forgiven. I have honoured. I have respected. I have accepted. I am ready.

I have Bi Polar Type I disorder. With that disorder comes limitations owing to medications, brain psychoses, chemical imbalances with bad days and good days. I have the disorder, I am not the disorder. It has been acknowledged and embraced that I will have at times debilitating side effects but I also have a ferocious independence, confidence and ability within me to jump on an aeroplane and embark on an international adventure of a lifetime with my little girl. I know that I will be much slower in my mental capacity to think, to compute, to complete and to reason, however, with assistance and support, it does not mean I cannot complete a visual arts university degree, on the contrary, the world awaits. Sometimes it takes a breakdown of the familiar to re-evaluate what we already have and who we already are. It may take a time of feeling ‘lost or alone’ to push us to reconnect with our inner world and spirit. Experiencing that this is possible, especially in times of confusion or grief is amazing. It brings a sense of being and belonging. If offers a steadying truth that lets us live from our strengths.

Circumstances must change to accommodate new needs, but that does not mean stopping life and living permanently. Shifts happen. Life is fluid and when you allow shifts to happen in your life, when you finally let go and let see, that’s when you commence a journey of a lifetime that is equally as rewarding as it is challenging. We can be responsible for changes in attitude and behaviour. Sometimes those changes will be extraordinarily inconvenient and others may be truly enhancing and liberating. Every time you make a choice, I have learned, you are turning that part of you that chooses into something a little different from what it was before and hopefully it is always for the better, knowing that my life has depth and meaning and that we are all a part of something infinite, for a love for ourselves and others can heal our insufficiencies; for a joy in living that authentically honours it.

Finally, it would be remiss of me if I did not convey my sincerest and heartfelt thanks to you, the reader and friend for accompanying me on this journey of self-discovery and diagnosis. Thank you for being there for me when things were wild and equally depressing. Thank you for your comments on the blog, your text messages, your private mail and comments on social media sites and subscribing to my ramblings. It means that you care and I am forever thankful for that.

Thank you for accepting who I am, and have honoured the shift from who I was and used to be. I hope I have at the very least through the blog and posts, given you a deep and meaningful insight into mental illness and what it means, especially my beautiful close friends, my dearest colleagues and family, you know who you are, where this subject was foreign, confronting, scary and unchartered. I hope I have removed some of the stigma that is associated with mental illness and made to more ‘okay’ to be approached, understood and appreciated. Learning who and what we are we learn to ‘author’ our own lives. We stumble forward. We make presumptions. We change our minds and finally we learn to heal.

Perhaps someday, down the track when I have officially become a student artist in waiting, I may merge all my blogs into one on the very essence of me and who I am today, the completely sassy, bold Bi Polar, student artist in waiting, cancer survivor, mother, wife, fabulous woman! Call me Van Gogh-ette!

This is not the end, it is but a closing chapter on my diagnosis of mental illness moreover, it is an opening chapter on the rest of my life and all that waits.”

Terence Wilde at Highgate Mental Health Centre.

Last night I went to a private view of Terence Wilde’s work at Highgate Mental Health Centre. I was lucky enough to meet up with Terence, a charming man with a super sense of style. He used to be a fashion print designer but gave it up due to the demands of the job. Terence now works at Bethlem Hospital. He is also an ex-service user. Terence says his “paintings reflect tortuously working my way through life from the perspective of an adult survivor”. He also described drawing as ‘trepanning without the drilling’, one of the best and dryly funny descriptions of art as therapy that I have ever heard.

‘Tell Me About your Childhood!’

Terence is exhibiting paintings and illustration at the gallery in Highgate, and the show will be running until May 10th. There will be a special closing event for the show which I will be blogging about nearer the time.

‘In the Counting House’

Terence describes creativity “as a healing tool, emotionally to describe, spiritually to make sense of. The process of self-acceptance, of being comfortable in your own skin, is the stem of my creative processes; it has enabled me to function in a healthier, true place.”

Terence’s paintings are awesome and if you can make it please do go and check out the exhibition. My favourite work on display is the illustration but I am biased since illustration is my thing. I did take photographs but they didn’t come out very well so for now I am going to put a load of his artworks from his website up. When I go back to the exhibition I will take some better photos and put them up here.

Please check out Terence’s website here. If you would like to order prints or artwork please get in touch with Terence directly through his website contact details.
If you would like to visit the exhibition, the address is Highgate Mental Health Centre, Darthmouth Park Hill Highgate, London N19 5NX, Tel: 020 7561 4000. Please call them to find out opening times.

“Life is an unravelling of self/A skill learned/A road travelled without a map/Living life is an art form/Like origami in reverse”
-Terence Wilde, September 2005

‘Swan Lake Revisited’

‘Beloved (Kate Bush’s Angel)’

‘Case of Casey’s Vespers’

‘Don’t Look Under the Bed’

‘Bette Davis Angel’


‘Do I Look Fat in This?’

‘The Girl with Hoopla Hair’