Tag Archives: art therapy

The Daily Life Ltd needs YOU!

Our friends and comrades in art and mental health, The Daily Life Ltd, led by Bobby Baker (not a man), have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for 3 new animations starring Dr Bobby, Roxy and Rudi. Together they will spread the word about their fantastic arts & mental health programme.

Can you help? Here follows a short broadcast from Dr Bobby…

And now some more information from the Daily Life Ltd. team…
Hello! Team Daily Life Ltd here – thanks for stopping by. We’re an arts organisation based in Stratford, East London. Our Artistic Director, Bobby Baker, is well known as an artist and as an ‘expert by experience’ of the mental health system. Our whole mission is to create powerful art that changes the way people think about mental health. We want as many people as possible to see surprising and beautiful work by artists with personal experience of mental health issues – and we need your help.


About this project: who we are and what we do…

The Roxy and Rudi Roadshow Local Wellbeing Research Unit, Shuffle Festival (2013) Photograph: Hydar Dewachi

Having produced Bobby’s art for years, we are now beginning to present work by many more artists who have lived experience of mental distress. This year we’ve raised money to tour exciting work by a group of talented poets, performers, artists and musicians in East London.

Here are some of our amazing lineup:

Selina Thompson, Chewing the Fat (2014)

Laura Jane Dean, This Room (2015)

Simon Raven, Cool Party (2014)

We’ll also be presenting work by artists from the wonderful Outside In at Pallant House Gallery and Bethlem Gallery:

Bethlem Gallery website. Screenshot: February 2015

Outside In National, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (2012) Photograph: Jason Hedges

We’re touring to East London venues like the pioneering Bromley By Bow Centre, Kingsley Hall, Shuffle Festival, and Queen Mary University, London.
Plus we’re planning another stunning Lightbox installation this autumn, building on the success of exhibition in Dalston last year – but this time in Newham.

The Expert View, Lightbox installation, Dalston Square (2014) Photograph: Andrew Whittuck

What we want to do now – with your help
The art is all sorted, as you can see, but now we need to make sure people know about it – locally and online. We’re a minuscule company, so we’re asking for your support to pay for our creative collaborators (Kate Bland, Cast Iron Radio, Pete Baynton, Radish Pictures, Bobby Baker aka ‘Dr Bobby,’) to help develop three more ‘Promo Cartoons.’

Thanks to Pete, Kate and the rest of our collaborators working with Bobby, our tiny, terrific and talented Roxy and Rudi Marketing Team have already been on the road on their mission to SAVE HUMANITY! Check them out on YouTube. As well as promoting new work, the cartoons are also a way of recording our activities and sharing them with people far beyond our East London stomping ground – Roxy, Rudi and Dr Bobby are a multitasking team!

A bit of background information

For those of you who don’t know us yet, and why we have such a passion for the arts and mental health, here’s a word from our Artistic Director Bobby Baker, aka ‘Dr Bobby:’

Bobby Baker, How to Shop (1993) Photograph: Andrew Whittuck

“Hello! I’m an artist and the Artistic Director of Daily Life Ltd. We’re a small Arts Council funded arts organisation based in East London.

I’ve been an artist for 40 years or so, making lots of work about daily life, being a woman, bringing up children, power, that sort of thing …How to change the world, basically.
Between 1997-2008 I had a period of serious mental ill health. I made lots of work about this experience. I had all sorts of treatment – some of it good – and in the end I got better. I’m now proud to describe myself as an expert by experience of the mental health system, and I’ve been Tip Top up Top for a decade or more. But there’s a lot of ignorance, fear and prejudice about mental health out there. This affected me very badly and still does, as it does others. Mental health is a subject that provokes strong feelings – people can get shouty, or boring, or bored or even more confused.

So that’s where the art comes in!

We know that powerful art changes lives and transforms thinking. We want more people to see great work by many people – many more voices, many experiences. We’d love your support to make the The Roxy and Rudi Roadshow Cartoons, so we can promote our fantastic 2015 programme to a wider audience.”

-Thanks, Bobby!

Bobby Baker, Pull Yourself Together, Trafalgar Square, London (2000) Photograph: Hugo Glendinning

Okay, folks, final word from team Mental Spaghetti – go help our buddies Bobby Baker and The Daily Life Ltd. raise what they need to animate their adventures! Thank you!


Where is the Work in the Work of Art?

Opening Event: 19 February, 3 – 5pm
Exhibition continues: 20 February – 10 April
Opening times: Wed – Friday, 10am – 5pm
Gallery and museum open the first and last Saturdays of the month 10am – 5pm

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“A pioneering arts and museum space at the heart of Bethlem Royal Hospital opens to the public on February 19th. Where is the Work in the Work of Art? is our first exhibition in the new gallery. This inaugural exhibition reveals some of the stories, processes and structures behind the art of a diverse group of artists who are connected to the gallery. We will be asking: what takes place before, during and after the making of an artwork? And how are artists enabled to do what they do?

Where is the Work in the Work of Art? takes its lead from our recent Bethlem Salon by the same name. It looks at art’s relationship to labour from several perspectives: cultural theory, art practice and occupational therapy. The aim is to reach beyond art as an object and identify what might be called the ‘bi-products’ of the art process.

What work is for artists and what it could be has been of long debate. Do we consider the making of art to be work when that work is enjoyable? Is it work when the outcome does not take the form of a tangible finished object? Is it work when the work is of second nature to the artist and fully integrated into daily life? Or does the work lie in the minds of the audience, who after encountering the artwork, carry into the world with them new ideas, questions, feelings or forms?

When asked about the title for his recent exhibition at the Bethlem Gallery, The silence of sawn wood, artist P.J Baird said: “It indicates a happening, a poetic image. As you view the work you imagine the process involved, like a form of synesthesia.” Although often seen as a strictly controlled environment to reside in, the hospital can be an enabling context for the production of art; artists may have more time and freedom to work. When it comes to the reception and interpretation of artwork, the hospital context is much more problematic.

Artworks and works of art are predominantly discussed as finished objects viewed through the valorising contexts of galleries and museums. This exhibition looks at work that is not always visible, work that is present in process, failure, experimentation, advocacy and the many other aspects of work that forms and surrounds artistic practice. By making visible some of the usually unseen aspects of artists practice, we hope to give further weight to the work of some of the most dynamic, adaptable, resistant and innovative artists that we know.”

- Sam Curtis, Curator

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The exhibition programme offers several lenses through which to consider artist practice and specific works:

Encounter and dialogue
What kind of encounter takes place between an audience and artists practice? How do artists set up situations for dialogue whether intentionally or unintentionally?

Working under constraints
Whether it’s within the rigorously controlled environment of a psychiatric hospital or the limiting space of home, the exhibition looks at how these artists adapt and evolve their practices to survive and flourish within specific constraints.

Art as a tool
The exhibition will explore how some of the artists use art as a personal tool, arming their practice with a specific use- value, a function in the artists ability to craft his or her own identity.

Methodology and process
Uncovering some of the complex and refined methodologies and processes of artists can tell us something about their focus, their skill and their persistence.

Does more time devoted to making art have a positive effect on an artist’s practice? The Bethlem Gallery acknowledges the importance of time, how time aids the establishing of mutual relationships of trust and respect with artists and the creation of a safe space where together we can experiment artistically.

Support Structures
How are artists enabled to continue practising? What support structures, both formal and informal create the specific conditions for their practise to take place?

Where is the Work in the Work of Art? features:
• Contributions by Albert, Clive, Dan Duggan, Daniel, George Harding, Liz Atkin, Matthew, Max Reeves, OccupationalTherapy Department staff and patients, Patient X, P. J. Baird, Raymond, Rodney, Ronald, Roydell, Steph Bates, Sue B, and Sue Morgan.

• Interviews and documentation of artistic process

• A mapped walk around the hospital site where visitors can discover an evolving array of artist interventions and

remnants of practice.

• An artist-created Wood Library situated within the diverse woodlands on the hospital grounds, open for reading,

borrowing, referencing and workshops.

• A Workshop for Unrealised Projects where unfinished or failed projects will be collectively explored and then remade through shared proposals

• The Bethlem Salon – Making and Unmaking – where invited speakers will discuss art, making and the production of subjectivities within the context of an exhibition showing the artworks resulting from of the Workshop for Unrealised Projects

• A series of talks and workshop to be announced on the gallery website

Address: The Bethlem Gallery, Bethlem Royal Hospital, Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3BX
Travel: Nearest British Rail: Eden Park / East Croydon

Contact: Beth Elliott, Gallery Director, 020 3228 4101 • Email: thebethlemgallery@gmail.com • Website: http://www.bethlemgallery.com

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.

David Feingold

The artwork of David Feingold, diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2001.

“There was a time when I tried to keep my disabilities to myself. That is, until it was nearly impossible to cover up my forgetfulness, poor organization, distractibility, and depression. I finally came out of the closet, determined to live my life to the best of my ability, with my impairments. Instead of hiding them, I embraced them. Instead of making excuses for them I prided myself in having them.”

If you would like to see more of David’s work check out his page at Bipolar Artists website.

The Bipolar Impaired Self

Look At Me, See My Pain

Seeing The Light

Hear That


Lizzy Makes Me Dizzy

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.

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: http://www.bethlemgallery.com | http://www.bethlemheritage.org.uk


Diagnosed with psychosis six years ago, Tempok has submitted some words and art:

“A group of masked scientists stand around a TV screen in a stark white room watching a small child while he sits on the floor playing quietly. What is he thinking? Does he know about the accident or that he’s in a coma? Does he even realise that he is creating the world around him – including his mum and dad and baby sister – in his head?

Was it ever just a game? As far back as I can remember I was always being watched. Then they wrapped cotton wool around my head and muffled the paranoia. By that time I had already learned how to escape the mental barrage: I simply shut down all of my thinking faculties – cutting my nose off to spite my face.

Now the system is slowly being rebooted…”

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.”

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: http://info.wegohealth.com/guest-posts
Roundtable discussion: http://info.wegohealth.com/roundtable

Theatre: Nineveh

I was just sent this press release for a physical theatre show which may be of interest to you guys…

Theatre Témoin presents
directed by Ailin Conant, written by Julia Pascal
at Riverside Studios from 16 April to 11 May (press night: Thursday 18 April at 7.30pm)

“Inspired by the testimonies of international soldiers, Nineveh is a fantastical and inventive physical show that considers what happens when a soldier leaves the war zone. The show was created by award-winning playwright Julia Pascal (Crossing Jerusalem, The Dybbuk) and Ailin Conant (Artistic Director of Theatre Témoin). This theatre experience is made as a result of Conant’s work with ex-fighters, peace activists, ageing veterans and child soldiers in Rwanda, Lebanon, Israel and Kashmir.

Once there was a boy. The war had taken his hands and arms. When he went home, his family didn’t recognise him. “You have no arms”, they said, “you are not our son”. They threw him into the river, where a giant fish swallowed him.

This stunning new play is based on the stories of ex-combatants and child soldiers that Ailin Conant encountered through The Return Project, in which she created theatre with people in four countries over a year. The result is a magical and timeless tale of four ex-soldiers adrift in a mysterious vessel. It explores the relationships between four different men and their attempts to escape their past and present.

Ailin Conant, Theatre Témoin: ‘Some experiences are too enormous to derive meaning from in any rational way. I could spend forever talking about the people and stories I’ve encountered and still fail to communicate the things that were most significant and affecting. For that reason, we create theatre.’

The production has been created with the support of War Child, Amnesty UK, Queen Mary, University of London, and Arts Council England. The Return Project ( http://www.returnproject.blogspot.co.uk ) was supported by Wellesley College and the Mary Elvira Stevens Travelling Fellowship.

Theatre Témoin: the act of witnessing does not exist as a verb in French.
One can only ‘be a witness’ passively: ‘être témoin’. The active verb, ‘témoigner’, means ‘to testify’.

Theatre Témoin is a physical theatre company that creates work that is daring, socially engaged, and fun. It collaborates with people, companies and communities internationally to make high quality theatre that provokes change because it is personal, not because it is didactic.

Theatre Témoin’s most recent show was The Fantasist – ‘an examination of the bipolar state which uses puppetry to seriously good effect’ (Lyn Gardner, The Guardian). The Fantasist received critical acclaim including numerous five star reviews during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012, and tours the UK and Ireland in 2013. Further work includes: Nobody’s Home (2010), on post-war trauma and the soldier’s journey home in a modern re-telling of The Odyssey. Jukai (2008), a collaboration with Taiko drummers, on the forest at the base of mount Fuji haunted by its reputation for being the biggest suicide spot in Japan, possibly the world; and Borderline (2008), looking at immigration law and the plight of the ‘sans papiers’ in a satire of French bureaucracy gone wrong.”

Jonathan Peirson

“I have suffered depression and anxiety disorders for 16 years which have worsened in the last 5 years leading to loss of my job and confidence. After attending a depression treatment centre 3 years ago I had the chance to do a couple of art therapy sessions which I enjoyed. Since then I have been interested in abstract art and have continued to paint finding it to be a good coping strategy. I find abstract helpful as I can paint without a plan or rules.”


Black Star




Polar Opposites

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. alan.horne@crestwf.org.uk”

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).

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’

Art Therapy blog

Hello Everyone!

Today I’d like to turn your attention to the rather amazing blog ‘Art Therapy’. I check in with it every day to find out the latest art therapy news. It is an invaluable source for service users, art therapists, learners, facilitators and the simply interested.

On the blog you’ll find featured artists, posts by specialist practitioners, interviews, news stories and links to fascinating articles and documentaries. Make sure you do visit the Art Therapy blog by going to www.arttherapyblog.com.

I’m off to a special private view tonight at Highgate Mental Health Centre. Will report back with pictures and a write-up.


Harli Tree.

I recently received a submission from Harli Tree,  who lives with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Harli Tree prefers her ‘alters’ to be addressed so I will be describing Harli as ‘they’ rather than ‘her’ and ‘she’. Harli runs an impressive website for art and photography and I urge you to go and spend some time on it. They were also recently interviewed by Art Therapy Blog. I have linked to both below the bio from Harli, below.

“We were diagnosed about a year and half ago and have weekly talking and art therapy and that has now developed quickly into a website for showcasing our art and photography.   We were recently featured artist on www.arttherapyblog.com where you will see an interview and our art, and in the reflections magazine and on various other art websites – we have also exhibiting our work at an exhibition in Norwich and have 2 paintings in an exhibition at Royal Brompton Hospital.”


“We live, work and create whilst experiencing the daily challenge of Dissociative Identity Disorder. There’s the host and eight alters and photography has recently become a creative form of expression for one of the alters and the host, whilst all of us engage in Art Therapy.  The use of art in therapy enables us to communicate and express our experience in a safe way. It allows us to discharge and process these difficult experiences and feelings which, once outside, can be reflected upon by all of us. The images created help different alters to meet one another and to begin to engage with the different self-stories that they each hold for the host.”

Walking into the Fire

Harli Tree’s interview and featured on Art Therapy.
Harli Tree’s website.

More images from Harli Tree below…


Evil Passage of Time

Thinking Alone