“Art means freedom, bravery, and a way out of the darkness.”
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a mother of 2 boys, a marketing manager in a previous life, and currently, I work full time on getting myself well (it’s a full-time job). I had post natal depression with my second – who was an IVF baby – and was hospitalized with him in a mother-baby unit for 9 weeks when he was 6 months old. I have treatment resistant depression and anxiety, which was made worse when my second child was diagnosed with stage 3 kidney cancer at 1 year old. He is now well and 4 1/2 years, but we have regular scans which means the memory of what we went through is always in my mind. I have never been artistic until I was hospitalized in November last year when I started painting after 2 weeks and found myself producing work after work. Partly I think it was that I had something to communicate, partly it was the treatments I was having… but it felt like something was “unlocked” from inside me when I was in the hospital. I started my website in December when I came out of the hospital after a lengthy 5+ week admission, and I’m planning on doing a number of markets in the first 3-6 months of this year. I have a very supportive husband who’s been behind me and my illness since the beginning, always making sure I knew there was no pressure for me to do anything but focus on getting well. I’m very lucky to have the family I have.
How does your mental health influence your work?
I only started to paint when I was in hospital in November last year (2016) – before then I had never shown any creative/artistic talents! I was having TMS as a treatment, as well as changing a number of medications, and I believe this played a large part in me finding my creative voice through painting. My work started to really incorporate aspects of mental health / mental illness when I was discharged from hospital after a lengthy 5+ week admission. My first day out I felt extremely vulnerable and pressured to be “in” life again after being in such a protected environment for so long. That night I painted the first of the #cantfly series of butterflies, called “If I could only fly”. “Pinned down” was the second in the series, and shows how I felt at the time – stuck and pressured from above to act, to “be”, to participate in life again. I use painting as therapy, particularly on my not-so-good days. I do believe it’s healing, to create something out of nothing. There is a power in that, and that gives me the power back at times when I feel powerless. My art happens quickly! I often paint 1-3 paintings each night (when my two kids are down) when I am in the painting mood. My inspiration comes from photos, images from the internet, and ideas I have for things that I’d like to create. The only planning that happens are quick sketches (if anything).
Can you tell us a little more about your series?
The #cantfly series of butterflies is extremely emotional and elicits an emotional response from me every time I see them. Some of them make me sad for the person who painted them, some of them are inspirational and make me proud to have been the conduit to get them onto paper. Not all of my paintings, but many of them, come from an emotional place and tell a story. Depending on where you are in YOUR life, you can take something away from them. There is something for everyone in my artwork, it is accessible for everyone. The #cantfly series was inspired after my long admission in hospital, and the challenges faced after discharge. Each depicts a challenge to re-engage with society, and the fears within that – although you have wings – you will forever be tethered to the ground. I hope that people feel the emotion of my artwork, and have an emotional response to it.