Mental Health

Artist: Myfanwy Dabner

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Our guest artist this week is Myfanwy Dabner, from Ballarat, Australia. In this article, Myfanwy examines the ways in which she processes inspiration, the new directions and inspirations she is drawing on, as well as understanding the meaning of being a marginalised artist, and what connotations the term invokes.

“Over a month ago I was thinking about printmaking and mental illness, as a place to make art from, and to have a subject matter for Uni art school requirements.

As I do printmaking a lot and as I have mental illness permanently these were my easy and obvious choices; make prints about my mental illness.

Now after some investigation into Outsider Groups and their art forms I am looking at the art of children and the art of the mentally ill, whilst ditching a totally printmaking focus to allow art in more forms.


I go with the genres that catch me. I have gone to the art of my children, my brother and my own children’s art, my art made when ill, and just plain old improvisation and make do to make new works.

I will abstract, repeat, cute-i- fy, blacken, follow and break rules, stencil, and other endless ways to make art works. So far I have dabbled in jagged three-dimensional shapes with UV and fluorescent colours. Perhaps I will use invisible UV markers to write a hidden poem.

My work from 15 years ago was brightened with fluorescent pencils, and I have a returned desire to use them. I want to be informed from viewing the untrained, relaxed, strong, wild, gestural, naive marks of my children’s artworks. I need to loosen up.

The work I make is also influenced by mental availability, mindset, mood – the pain within, the love, the needing to form something. Generally speaking, high energy can cause some illness, it can’t always be maintained, eventually dropping into depression, getting a few weeks here and there for busy making.

In conclusion, my place to work from has not completely shifted from printmaking and mental illness but has grown to include the art of children, my children, as inspiration and that I may make art in a variety of forms.

I now also understand the term Outsider Art and the meaning of marginalisation. I am putting myself forward as acceptable with illness. Will I be only seen for my illness and thus marginalised? I don’t know yet. I do know though I am substantiating the art of the mentally ill by proposing it to my teachers as an acceptable area to draw from in art practice.

I am also putting forward the techniques of children’s art as acceptable techniques for making in art. Please enjoy the pictures, including monotypes, improvised work and art by my children.”

You can read short stories by Myfanwy Dabner, here.

OPPORTUNITY: ‘DIY Public Selfcare System’

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What: Call for artists, Liverpool DadaFest
When: Deadline to apply, 14 June 2016, 5pm. Performance Dates: Tue 9 – Sat 13 August 2016
Times: DIY Public Selfcare System is a 5-day process, comprised of: 2 consecutive days of group work, 1 day for rest/recovery or guided individual work, then 2 more consecutive days of group work. We are working to a model of 4hrs of ‘intensive’ work per day.
Where: The Bluecoat, Liverpool. This DIY is supported by DaDaFest.

Think we might be let off for posting this with only 48 hours (maybe less) to apply, following de-install of last exhibition, install of the new exhibition, and hectic private view – which we will be posting more about later. Phew. Anyway, quick, quick, apply for this…

DIY Public Selfcare System gathers together artists with lived experience of long term disabling conditions to explore acts of self care we have to perform in public, and consider repurposing these acts as performance.

Project Summary

As the government dismantles our public health and welfare systems, the future looks like “no money, no care”: it looks like chronic illness for all those not at the very top of the pile. To survive without access to public healthcare, everyone is going to have to learn to perform public acts of self care.

  • We will gather as a community of artists who are experts at the durational performance of thriving in a world that is geared against our survival.
  • We will share insight with one another drawn from our diverse creative approaches and experiences: on self care in general; on the poetics, politics and aesthetics of our actions; on how to take up space.
  • We will engage in a playful process of repurposing and appropriating our necessary actions of self care as performance gestures; looking towards the creation of performance works for public spaces.


We welcome artists of all ages and at all stages: young artists just beginning to make work as well as older or more experienced artists; those who are perhaps experiencing disabling conditions for the first time; those with perspectives on how disabling conditions are affected by other intersections.

We welcome you to engage in a challenging, playful, collaborative and professional creative process convened by an artist who specialises in making intimate and interactive works with unfiltered audiences in mind.

The application requires answers to the following questions (as written or audio responses):

  • Tell us a bit about yourself and your artistic practice. (max 300 words or 3 mins audio)
  • Why do you want to be part of DIY Public Selfcare System this August? (max 300 words or 3 mins audio)
  • What public act of self care might you be interested in exploring as creative stimulus and why? This doesn’t commit you to anything specific, but it helps us get to know you and the way you think. (max 300 words or 3 mins audio)
  • Please provide web links to anything you think we should see (ideally these would include specific works of yours or projects you have been involved in, but it can also be the work of others, or things that you are thinking of as a result of contemplating this project). Please specify what it is and why you want to draw our attention to it. (max 5 links).

We welcome applications from those based beyond and within Liverpool: DadaFest will do their best to help find or organise accommodation if you need it.


All the information on this page is also available in an audio format, and audio applications are accepted too. Listen to audio information about this DIY here.

We are committed to doing what we can to ensure that no participant is stopped from attending, especially by the very lived experience that we seek to value. DadaFest are providing a small amount of cash and a larger amount of time to assist with the practicalities of accessing the workshop.

If you have any questions or worries about access (or anything else) that you would like to address before applying, do not hesitate to contact Cathy ( or Rhiannon (

Please note that all applications must be done via the online form, rather than being emailed direct to DIY artists.


Help The Horsfall, Manchester

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We need YOU to help us make this happen, and as well as that inevitable feel good feeling; you can select a lovely reward too!

Read on for more information on our project. There is a video at the end of the article.

The Horsfall… A new creative programme bringing together young people and the wider public with artists, mental health practitioners and heritage experts to improve mental wellbeing.

Who are we?

The Horsfall is a creative venue and programme by 42nd Street; an innovative and award winning mental health charity with an excellent 35 year track record. 42nd Street supports young people aged 11-25 years with their emotional well-being and mental health, promoting choice and creativity. We champion young person centred approaches that demonstrate local impact and have national significance.

What is The Horsfall?

The Horsfall is about beautiful art with a useful purpose. We believe that access to art and nature can radically change people’s lives. The venue and programme we have planned will enable us to work with more young people in new ways and to extend the impact of what we do to the wider public.

We’ve been inspired by the little known Ancoats Art Museum; a unique social and artistic experiment established at the end of the 19th Century by Victorian visionary Thomas Horsfall. The Ancoats Art Museum created opportunities for the most disenfranchised people of Manchester to experience beauty in their lives through visits to the gallery, attendance at concerts, classes in woodwork, music and dressmaking and countryside rambles.

We’ve taken his ideas and updated them for the 21st century. In our first year we will work with young people, professional artists, mental health professionals, makers and facilitators to create enthralling and powerful experiences for young people and audiences alike. We have plans for an immersive theatre installation with young carers, public art pieces, mindfulness and art sessions and even a project to invent a new flavour of ice cream.

We will lead the way local and nationally in how we work with young people to reinterpret stories from the past, their own stories and to imagine stories yet to come.

What you can do

Crowdfunding will give us that last piece of the jigsaw to make this amazing project a reality, but if we don’t hit our £15,000 target we get NOTHING… So, if you are yet to pledge we still need you!

Pledge what you can and choose one of our fantastic rewards. They give you a real flavour of what we are about and every penny will contribute to finishing the restoration of The Horsfall into a useful and beautiful space; a resource for young people and the communities around us.

Tell other people about our campaign through Twitter, Facebook and all those social media platforms.

Take inspiration from the words of Thomas Horsfall:
“Be aware of beauty and the wider world, it will give you the mental resources needed to find your way in life.”

The Rewards

No matter how much you can afford to pledge, we’ve got some great rewards for you. Of course, contributing to making The Horsfall a reality is a reward in itself, but we also want to say thank you, so we’ve used our creative skills to make you some beautiful things that money can’t buy anywhere else. We have had some great friends help us out too, so we have made sure to pay this forward and support our local businesses in the design and production of these rewards.”

If you’d like to pledge, visit The Horsfall pledge page. Seven days left!

Exhibition: Cross-Pollination at Dragon Café

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What: Exhibition of visual art from service users and providers
When: May 2-30, Mondays only
Where: Dragon Café, Southwark, London


Our next exhibition represents the meeting of minds often described as firmly being ‘in two camps’. From May 2nd until 30th, we will be showing visual art from mental health service users and providers at the Dragon Café in Southwark. We are exploring the dovetailing of mental health service users and providers, and the overlap of being in services and providing a service, with the aim of blurring the lines of ‘Us vs Them’.

There will be a talk from artists Richard Corrigall (SLAM) and Megan Whinton on Monday May 23rd at 5pm.

DRAW! Alternative ways of drawing, Free Space Gallery

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What: Drawing workshops, drop-in sessions
When: May 6-27, 2016
Where: Free Space Gallery, KTHC, London, NW5 2BX

Our lead artist, Marie-Louise Plum, is running a series of drawing workshops at Free Space Gallery, Kentish Town Health Centre, from May 6-27 2016. Learn to draw using alternative techniques and unusual materials, including natural objects such as feathers, sticks and material.

These sessions are drop-in, meaning that you can just turn up, but where possible, please book online so we have some idea of numbers. If you can’t make it on the day, that’s okay, just cancel the booking. You can reserve your space at any of the four sessions in May, here.

Sessions run from 2-5pm every Friday during the month of May. No experience necessary, all materials provided. We will have a short break at 3:15pm every week. Refreshments provided.

Artist: Tim Bradford

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‘The Twelve Pins, Finsbury Park’, and, ‘Better Red Than Dead’

“For starters, I’m going to try not to talk about myself in the third person. There’s no way Tim Bradford is going down that route.

The work on my website is divided into seven categories, each containing a small series of paintings representing a particular layer of my obsessions. These are Museum of Reconstituted Charity Shop Art, Irrational Portrait Gallery, Once Upon A Time In The West (Of Ireland), The Patchwork Landscape, Finsbury Park Institute of Football Art, Useful Gods and Botanic Transcendental Paintings.

View more from ‘Botanic Transcendental Painting’, above, here.

It’s also in some ways a celebration of my parallel universe art career as a member of the ‘Bearded Rural Artists Who Prefer Living In Cities’ group. And in this scenario I went to art college instead of studying English at university – making a living as a football arm tattoo artist and getting dumped several times by Tracey Emin.

I am now what is generally known as a new wave wang-eyed pop folk artist. 

Although I’m now considerably older than John Lennon was when he died, and Dino Zoff when he collected a World Cup winner’s medal, I like to think of myself as an emerging artist. I’m just emerging in slow motion.

View more from ‘Irrational Portrait Gallery’, above, here.

For twenty years or so after leaving school I painted semi-regularly, as a kind of grounding mechanism, then stashed the resulting pictures in attics or cupboards and it wasn’t until 2005 that I started to become reasonably prolific.

The year after that we lived in the west of Ireland for a year and a half and I fell in with the notorious Ennistymon artists set, a collection of ferociously intelligent and talented dazzling women painters and intense bearded film maker blokes.

View more from ‘The Patchwork Landscape’, above, here.

In this hotbed of hair and ideas I gained the confidence to put on my own exhibition. In Bachelors Walk I developed some of the themes that had obsessed me for years – fast disappearing landscapes, ravaged old blokes tortured by loneliness or frustration, lovely dreamlike women who know a lot about ‘stuff’.

The vivid, mostly primary, colours are intended to have a life-affirming effect on the viewer, perhaps with the sense of having a revelatory vision, a mild migraine or recovering from a hangover.

When I’m not painting, over-cooking pasta for the kids or wandering aimlessly around the local streets, I do illustrations for the football magazine When Saturday Comes and write non-fiction books.”

Visit Tim Bradford’s website, here.

View more from ‘The Finsbury Park Institute of Football Art’, above, here.

Artist: Jasmine Surreal

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Doris Day and Doris Night ©Jasmine Surreal

Also exhibiting at the excellent Bobby Baker/Bethlem/Outside In combo light-box show in Stratford, ‘Letting in the Light’, is Jasmine Surreal.

Jasmine describes herself as a “surrealist symbolic artist with a lot of humour”, and to this statement, we concur.

Her works are illustrative in style, and extremely playful, picking up where Edward Lear’s nonsense worlds and Simon Drew’s clever dovetailing of objects and subjects left off.

With titles such as ‘Doris Day and Doris Night’ (the work currently on display in Stratford), ‘Kraftwerk do ‘Kraft’work’, ‘Lord Biro’, and ‘Paintbrush Painting With An Artist’, we think you’ll understand why.

“I’m inspired by my own imagination, just me really, although there are artists I like. Bosch, Magritte, Dorothea Tanning. I tend to draw the image on canvas with a pencil, mainly from my own head, unless I’m drawing someone like Steve Allen (a 1950s comedian and polyglot), when I used a photograph of him. I’m very meticulous, because the images I realise are meticulous. There’s a lot of detail there, hidden objects and faces, reversals of reality.”

Jasmine is keen to share that she has been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and is currently having treatment with a hypnotherapist. She experienced childhood abuse and is currently experiencing domestic abuse, which, in her own words, is “compounding what I am experiencing – it’s important for me to be open about my experience, as it also puts context into my work, especially that humour can come from difficult experiences.”

You can see more of Jasmine’s work here, and please do visit the show in Stratford, on until March 23 – Letting in the Light. You can also buy Jasmine’s work through her online shop, here.