Mental illness can be a confusing and difficult subject to fully grasp. Even when you are the one suffering, it can be hard to recognise and deal with. When trying to explain to others it can get even harder, as if the words don’t even exist to describe it. This is exactly the issue student-led Mental Wealth have opened up for discussion through the Piece of Mind exhibition.
Held on the Monday 23 April in Victory Memorial Hall, Piece of Mind was a space for expressing yourself through art, and for the participants and viewers to talk about the subject openly and “burst the bubble” of stigmatised mental health. Supported by Student Services, Dundee’s Art Angel, and other local health charities, the campaign exhibited a selection of beautiful and thought-provoking pieces.
“Art can become a powerful therapeutic form of self expression… improve self-esteem and… make one feel part of the community” stated Mental Wealth. The atmosphere encouraged talking and sharing stories, with visitors commenting on their favourite works. This was not just a student event and the feeling within the room was one of togetherness. Each person attending the event wrote a note filling the board with inspired comments and thankful words.
“This exhibition has brought forth the most astonishing collection of ideas and raises the profile of mental health” said Chris Lusk, Director of Student Services. Praising the campaign, he added “The University is committed to helping people fulfil their intellectual potential and encouraging initiatives to help them keep their mental health strong and balanced is fundamental to that.”
The collection of pieces was diverse. Ranging from a small model Gnome, to life drawing, to abstract glittering canvases, to detailed paintings, each had it’s own story to tell and place within the subject of mental health. Personally I had my own connections with the artwork, as many others did also. Some spoke easily of a time in my life that was almost unbearable with depression; other pieces felt challenging and uncomfortable but still inspiringly brave.
Piece of Mind was a huge success. “What I really love about it is how it seems to represent such a large portion of the community, from all different backgrounds, and how they’ve responded to ‘Piece of Mind’. So many works you look at and know absolutely how they feel, but others feel very strange and removed from your life” said an Art History student. Bursting the bubble released the topic of mental health: these artists are not crazy, they are people going through something difficult and confusing in varying degrees, and they were very talented.
Mental Wealth successfully created a space to talk freely, and continue to express the internal processes of one’s mind, encouraging each person to communicate. If you feel that you are struggling and need some help, the ASC (Advice and Support Centre, firstname.lastname@example.org), are ready to listen and support you. What about testing your artistic skills in this potentially stressful exam time? It might help and bring you a new skill in one sweep.
Image 1 – E.K.M. Cronin
Image 2 – E.K.M. Cronin (clockwise from the top – Helen Miller, Livia Marinezcu, Kirsty, Anon, Russ Warfield)