See Past the Masks
by Ami-Mai McKenna
1 Three second timer
My first self portrait, it’s capturing a moment of disassociation when I tried to take a photo and left the planet before the timer went off. Blank on the outside, infinite on the inside.
2 Prone to intrusive thoughts
I’m trying to illustrate the strain of maintaining a mask for everyone around me while the battle rages within.
3 Welcome to the masked ball
Look past the glittery mask and your own reflection to see the chaos inside.
I’d urge service providers to see past the masks we’ve been forced to create.
(From organisers: look through the holes in the ball! )
through Conflicting Perception
by Emily Burfoot
Every time I was sectioned I felt it was because my perception of reality wasn't shared by the psychiatrist who was assessing me. This exhibit is designed to show how "The Truth" (represented by the cylinder-shaped pill) is a combination of the "psychotic truth" (circular shadow) AND the "sane truth" (square shadow).
I strongly believe that healing takes place when the truth is found, and the truth accommodates both the sane and the psychotic truth equally.
(Note from organisers: Sadly this room is too bright to show this impactful piece to full effect.)
Photographing Autism (x4)
The abstract contents of these images seem to be a reflection of the neurologically untypical mind trying to grasp an unfamiliar reality and failing.
In the making of them I have felt I found a way to be myself, to escape the pressure of the normal world, and that probably the images themselves seem odd in the same ways that I am odd; they are awkward and hard to understand, they are off to one side in an isolated corner, outsiders; though, they are just what they are and nothing more, and because of being abstractions they consistently surprise me when I make them...
Power and Burden
by Minnie Themba
1 The power of the female form is undeniable.
Woman represents life, strength, perseverance
and the foundation of us all no matter what is
done unto us.
2 I am. Do you see me? I am here
3 The burden that is our form is not there
to make you feel good
4 What is a slut? Should I feel bad to be a slut?
Do I care what you think? Do I have autonomy?
by Fenna May
1 Everything colourful and positively chaotic,
a million things happening at once.
2 Overwhelm – when the chaos gets too much
I need to curl up and ground myself.
by Fenna May
Many indigenous cultures respond very
differently to mental health crises than we
do in the West, seeing them as a sign of
special powers and a calling to grow. In
the film Crazywise, human rights
photographer and film maker Phil Borges
draws some startling comparisons between
attitudes and support in different cultures.
So Here I Am...
I COULD NEVER EXPRESS
THE MESS I FELT INSIDE
A MOTHER WHO COULDN’T AND
A DAD WHO THOUGHT HE COULD
DO ANYTHING HE FELT
TO A BABY ‘WITH NO FEELINGS’
TURNED HIS DAUGHTER
INTO A LOVER
THERE WAS NO THERAPY
I AM STILL SHAKING.
CREATIVITY AND NATURE ARE PART OF THE HEALING.
SO HERE AM I… STILL SHOCKED. LIFE-LONG DEATH. THIS IS THE LAST TABOO: SILENCED. ASSAULTS BY PARENT, SIBLING, UNCLE ETC.
PLEASE SET UP A SAFE PLACE FOR SUCH PEOPLE TO COME TO BE HEARD, IN COMPASSION. BREAK THE CYCLE OF ABUSE. RESTORE THE CIRCLE OF FAMILY TRUST, LET EACH CHILD BECOME THEIR FULLY BEAUTIFUL CREATIVE SELF.
Befriending Madness - a collection
by Tam Martin Fowles
1 You Don’t Want to be Helped and
2 How Can I Help?
In 1989 I plunged suddenly into an experience, labelled "psychosis" that upended my life. My psychiatrist prescribed medication and referred me to an old, asylum-type “mental hospital”. When I refused both (knowing with certainty that to accept would be catastrophic for me) he told me I did not want to be helped. No alternative support was offered. I came close to suicide before a brief, compassionate encounter with another psychiatrist (his junior, a young woman) turned my life around and set me on the path to recovery.
33 years on I remain certain that I intuitively knew what I needed - and what I absolutely didn't need.
It is vital that service providers encourage, listen to and act upon the intuitive wisdom of people in crisis.
(Here is a short, personally-illustrated video-story of my two very different encounters with psychiatrists.)
3 The Creative Adult
Don’t give me drugs and diagnoses; give
me paints and paper and pastels, poetry,
scissors and glue and clay and time and space to create and play…
4 Walking with Myselves
When emerging from madness, my greatest healing and growth came from transpersonal therapy (at a substantial financial cost to me). I learned about archetypes and sub-personalities, how they related to my voices and visions, and how to mediate, befriend, nurture and love them. This painting was a journey, developing over months. Bear protects my wounded inner child so she can run forward without fear. I walk between them.
Imagine a system in which the therapies that most resonate with our individual needs and offer the greatest personal healing are available at no cost...
5 Meet Me Where I Am
When I am in the pit of despair, please don’t expect me to climb out and join you in in your reality, or drug me and suspend me in a limbo somewhere in-between.
Be curious, and brave enough to join me in the darkness; to radiate compassion and show me that it’s safe to venture out.
6 Grandmother Winter
The archetypal Grandmother watches over
the Wounded Child, protecting her from the
ravaging darkness of winter. (Made entirely from materials of nature.)
The potent fusion of nature’s magic
and the power of creativity makes
Environmental Art Therapy a profound and
wonderful tool for healing transformation.
Thank you Gin!!! www.catdevon.org.uk
Racism and Discrimination
in Mental Health Services
by Dele Fagunwa/HITH
To people working in mental health: You have to address the society you live in because, as it evolves, it includes more people, and back-stories. You need to change the view in society, otherwise there will always be indiscrepancies…
(See the short video “Mental Health, Race and Alligator bait” narrated and illustrated by Dele
Quotes and statistics on the artwork are from Mind and NHS Providers
by Josephine Apira
Keeping my story inside was a recurring nightmare, one of many refugee experiences. If you cannot share your story, you cannot address it and begin a new chapter. I know my mother and father did not receive a proper burial and I know the people I left behind, village people, people I know, were killed too. There is too much trauma in the community to process, finding a way of showing, telling and communicating my story to those who listen can help me to navigate through and take care of myself.
The message I would like to deliver by sharing my painting is one that aims to ignite courage in the hearts and minds of all refugees struggling to tell their story
I had a course of therapy with an incredible woman, Zoe, at my local rape crisis service. She helped me get to a place where I could accept, be angry, feel again, cry. Where I could challenge the terrible things that the abuse had left me with, the ideas I had about myself as a result of it and the subsequent fall out and re-traumatisation that happens when you report this to the police and have to 'come clean' to your family and friends.
It felt very important that I create something that represented the way therapy had helped me to feel. I wanted Zoe to know how strong I felt and for her to be able to see how she had helped me beyond my sending a "thank you" card. I also wrote some stuff down. I'm not sure if I wanted to write to the other warriors out there, to myself or to my warriors...if you feel connected with my writing I invite you to keep a copy of it (see mobile and photocopied sheets).
You are invited to try on the robe, touch it, interact with it, enjoy it, strut, feel powerful, feel in control, you got this and... "you are bold and brave and strong"...
Locking things away in a tiny box
'these are boxes I made and used during my therapy sessions. Being able to open up a box and tackle the issues one at a time helped me to manage when I felt overwhelmed.
Tin can telephone and sticky thoughts
After my first workshop I really wanted to be able to speak my thoughts into the minds of police officers, ISVAs, the CPS. I also wanted other professionals to hear those sticky thoughts. I felt if people knew what I was thinking and feeling maybe they would be able to understand?
These items are my way of giving voice to that place I had been in. The power those emotions and thoughts had, and a recognition that at times, still, I think and feel these things, such is the power of abuse, shame and grooming. I invite you to read my words and should you wish, to whisper them into the tin can telephone
These are real sentences and real words and the real impact these abhorrent actions and crime have.
I want you to remember the origin of 'survivors' - for some the pain is too great to go on.
I am your sister, your child, your neice, your aunt, your partner. I need you to do better for me and for them.
Learning to fly again
By Han Park
Wounded Bird- mending the broken wings
so to take flight again into the horizon, into
the sunset where the journey continues.
This piece of artwork is a representation of my
journey through grief. The overwhelming
challenge of finding purpose again and to
carry on with life was very difficult. However,
My art was my strength , and gave me so much
help in those dark times.
My message is that there is hope even when
it seems impossible.
I found my wings and flew again.
by Forough Piroozi
(This exhibit is downstairs in the entrance.)
1 Life is the basic need that drives us to move forward in our search for our lost humanity in our country. No-one chooses to be an asylum seeker for no reason. The asylum seeker reached the stage of suffocation and lost himself in a place that did not respect his humanity and his simplest rights. In this painting the single face bears many different aspects with which I clarify that the asylum seeker, regardless of colour, lineage or origin, remains his main concern to risk his life in the journey of searching for life is his existance as a human being who has full rights and rejects injustice. And this is the main reason for me to be in the Uk.
2 In this painting I used a wooden board that was thrown away. I felt that the story of this neglected wooden board is like the story of an asylum seeker who found himself neglected and a fighter in his society that did not respect his human rights. So he went out to the side of the road in his search of presence.
3 I am a girl, I am an asylum seeker, I am a person looking for a life worthy of any free person. Basic rights, justice that rejects injustice, equal opportunities, a healthy life and a bright future.
I am Every Child
We all have rights. And so do children. Often,
we forget that children have these rights.
There are 45 articles to the Convention on the
Rights of the Child. All children, no matter
where they live, have these rights. These rights
protect them as human beings, not as
someone's property. I think society often
I think about all the pain and suffering some
children go through because they are not
granted their basic human rights. Each one of
us is responsible for protecting the rights of
all children and their special and unique place
in the world
What Do We Want?
by Lizzie Stevens and Community
The words in the bowl are taken from mini-placards created by visitors to last year's Plymouth exhibition, where artist Lizzie Stevens offered the opportunity for everyone to make a clay figure with a placard showing their message, as a part of a "protest" piece.
If you'd like to contribute, please write something you want on one of the slips of paper provided and put it in the bowl.
by Various Artists
Zines are hand-made, informal publications that have historically been part of an alternative counter-culture, often presenting information and art that contain a message about marginalised people’s experiences.
Most of the zines you can see here are either made by Tam Martin Fowles, some in collaboration with members of the Hope in the Heart community, or loaned to us by Queercircle following their own exhibition of zines by a variety of creators (huge thanks to them all).
Tam is working closely with Hel Spandler and Jill Anderson of the Madzines research project at the University of Central Lancashire, whose aim is to highlight zines that “craft contention” about mental health
If you would like to make a zine to add to the exhibition, or take home, materials are available on the Making Table. It’s fun, and cathartic. Take as long as you like 😊
Behind the Labels
Whether a diagnosis, insult, stereotype, characteristic or perceived identity, we are all continually labelled – and continually label others – throughout our lives. On multicoloured, oversized luggage-style labels, participants were invited to write a label that has been applied to them on one side and their truth about that label on the other.
There are blank labels on the Making Table. Please make your own to add to the collection if you would like.