Day 4 24/7/2015

There are some days with painting, just as with anything else, that you can't get motivated to do it. Today I'm having one of those days. When this happens I know it's best to leave it for a while and concentrate on something else, so I spend the morning writing and researching. I run a google search on mental health and creativity thinking that the top listed articles would all be about the positive impact of doing something creative on mental health, but am surprised to find that most of the articles are in fact about the links between being creative and mental illness. The top hit is a recent Guardian article about a study claiming that there is actually a genetic link between creativity and mental illness. According to the study, "genetic factors that raise the risk of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are found more often in people in creative professions. Painters, musicians, writers, and dancers were on average 25% more likely to carry the gene variant than professions the scientists judged to be less creative." It doesn't attempt to explain what this gene variant is or how these scientists quantify it. The whole article seems flimsy, especially a closing quote about how more people with mental illness are attracted to jobs in the creative industries in recovery because nearly all mental health hospitals use art therapy techniques, therefore more 'creative' people are inherently mentally ill! For me the biggest contributory factor to mental health problems is the way most school and working environments are structured to tick boxes and show that everyone is the same without allowing for individual expression. There are not enough outlets for suppressed creativity, this is why we have so many people suffering from mental health issues, from minor depression and anxiety through to bipolar and schizophrenia. 
The artist Caroline Hack drops in to see me and we talk about residencies. She is about to embark on one and is wondering what it's like to be working so publicly. I tell her it's quite intense, to say the least. When people walk into the gallery space it's almost like walking inside my brain and I have been asked over and over again this week about the various mechanisations of it. I don't find it off putting though and people don't generally stand looking over my shoulder and watching me work. They tend to walk around, first looking at the completed work, then the photographs and wall references. If they see something that interests them, they'll talk to me. I've had some great feedback this first week, all of it positive and interesting. It's been reaffirming for me rather than scary. I've probably never spent so much time talking to people in my life so it's also been confidence building in that respect. There have been so many working days in the past where I haven't spoken to anyone at all. Sometimes I've felt like I've forgotten how to talk to people at all.
When I get back from lunch the Stebbing architects are in the gallery inspecting their paintings. Earlier this year Tom Stebbing came up to my studio to look at a painting and ended up buying three, two to go in their office and one as a gift for his wife. Today he and his wife Sarah Jane and his father John are looking at all three on the walls of Smiths Row after kindly letting me borrow them back for the exhibition. This space would look pretty bare without Barbican 1 and 2 so I'm very grateful. 
I feel like I'm not getting enough work done thisafternoon. I talk for a while to a teacher who has only come to Bury for a funeral but ended up popping in to the gallery as he had some time to kill before heading back to Cambridge. He actually came to see The Long Blondes at the Junction back in 2008 and had no idea my exhibition was on. 
I have to leave early. I'm going to see a play at the Theatre Royal called 'A Labour of Love' written by my friend, the playwright Danusia Iwaskow about how the theatre was saved and restored in the 60s. Another perspective on home and belonging. 

1 comment

  • Chris Waugh

    Chris Waugh

    More great stuff. Today a welcome, thought-provoking tangent. Love it.

    More great stuff. Today a welcome, thought-provoking tangent. Love it.

Add comment