Thursday, 24 March 2011

Syd Barrett | Art and Letters

Growing up in Cambridge, Pink Floyd were no strangers to the generation before me. His mum lived two streets away and my dad used to lug their gear around. Syd, in his post Floyd later days returned from North London to Cambridge and put his energy into his art. During this time I often saw him around town, in his big headphones and long trench-coat (even in the sweltering heat) in a world of his own.

I highly recommend getting yourself to his exhibition in Shoreditch.

These (above) are just a few of the many letters Syd wrote to hi sweetheart Libby.

Exhibition Dates:  18th March –10th April  2011
Idea Generation Gallery, Redchurch Street,  London, E2 7JB

What does someone with mental health look like?

Many people still have the old fashioned images of people with mental health - rocking backwards and forwards, shouting at no one in particular in the street etc - but since the eigteen hundreds where the public display of people with mental health in circus’s and torture of patients in mental hospitals were finally abolished and we intergrated into “normal” society, we can be much less easy to point out. 
Putting a hundred people in a room and guessing which ones are affected my mental health is like a lifesize game of Guess Who without questions. It’s a difficult game, especially considering that statistically a whopping twenty five of those will have been or will be affected by mental health at some point in there life. One of those people will have a severe mental health condition.
I think that just as people are singled out because they come across as having a mental health problem, it is also hard having a mental health without coming across as having a mental health problem. People can expect too much of you thinking “Well s/he doesn’t look unwell.. /s/he looks as though she’s coping ok” With mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder we have periods of wellness, during this time we may well function and take on tasks and responsibilities as though unafected. However, we are likely to be taking mood stabilisers or other drugs to help us sustain these periods, and episodes can be triggered by stress, lack of sleep and other external factors. Also, when we are towards the high end of the scale we can take on everything, leading people to think we are more than compotent and expect that of us all the time.  When I worked in nursing many years ago I was the first to be asked to do a double shift if someone called in sick, even if this mean’t doing a day shift followed by a night shift. And of course after a while I’d burn out, hit rock bottom and be off for weeks, even months.
Another reason it is hard is - believe it or not - the stigma that comes not coming accross with having a mental health problem. As an example I have been in various places as a result of my mental health where other service users have said things such as “You look to well to do to be here.. you don’t look like you fit in here etc..” and if these were by way of some kind of compliments they did not work.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Forget Who You Are

 Exhibition at Core Arts 17th March 2011.

Core members and special guests come together for a multi-media event portraying memories and experiences of childhood through scale, imagery and anthropomorphism.

Pieces from the exhibition will go into the V&A's Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green London.

Above is Alex Ingram; contemporary artist, poet and bloody nice bloke. Check him out on..

Below is Gary Molloy; fine artist and poet who I have already featured in this blog. If you missed it you can check him out on..

A special guest contributer created this very beautiful, very life-like child/bunny creature as part of a multi-media piece..

And I took us back to that nostalgic time where taping the top forty mattered..

When the exhibition comes down I'm going to turn this into a shower curtain! Incase you're interested my own blog is..

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pretty lights and shouty poets

Last time I saw this fella was backstage in a dingy basement in a club in Edinburgh scrawling bullet points on his hands. It was the Edinburgh Festival and we were on the same bill at a stand up show. Four years later I bump into him at the Kats n Dogs night at the Victoria Dalston Cross. He is "Captain Rant" and things must be looking up for him because look at those nice clean hands.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Art V Anti-depressants

Personally I believe all psychiatric drugs should be prescribed by a psychiatrist rather than a GP because a good shrink is more likely to know more about your personal (or personnel) needs - motivational, practical - rather than just whether you have high blood pressure or webbed feet.

Many depression sufferers are artistic. It's a chicken or egg situation - as artists we tend to be perfectionists and prone to feelings of failure which can stimulate depression... when depressed we are more open minded, however negative, and tend to be at our most artistic. There are novelists, musicians and painters dating back to (ahem, I wish I paid more attention at school) a long time ago who back up this theory.

But are anti-depressants a solution for artists?

I met with a musician yesterday. A talented man with proven success and all the frills of fame and fortune. Although he cannot see it. He suffers from acute depression and is currently on a high dose of anti-depressants. He was first put on these after a suicide attempt, however, as his dose has increased over the last two years he has made three more attempts which have landed him in intensive care. He told me that the tablets' side effects mute his love of music, music is his life and he simply cannot face life without music. 

So, we are faced with a choice, mend ourselves with anti-depressants which curb  depression but can numb our artistic passion which in turn can make us depressed again, or mend ourselves with that very artistic passion but continue to be depressed.

Hmm.. as both artist(ic) and a manic depressive I can see both sides of this argument I seem to have created. My choice, and this is not the answer, was to meet in the middle. I reduced my dose to a safe point where I don't hit rock bottom and can create art sometimes. 
Best of luck if you're ever faced with this decision.