About the Exhibition
In the Harbour View Gallery, we have work from local artists, connected with the Canadian Mental Health Association. All of us have experience with mental health challenges in our lifetimes – whether personally, or through family or friends who work with issues.
Many of us do have an understanding of the difficulties and struggles that are involved. And yet mental health remains a subject that hides in the shadows. These art works are again a captured moment, illuminating a fragment in someone’s story. Whether they are a hard-hitting image of pain, or a more diffuse portrayal of mood or atmosphere, each speaks to the individual’s experiences in their daily life.
The process of creation is hardwired in all of us, whether we realise it or not. For many, finding the path to access that process and to create in whatever medium chosen, enables the release of tensions, fears, pain, and anxieties. It allows us to move through darker feelings, and offers the possibility of seeing light ahead – and the opportunities to find mental wellness.
Sara Brinkhurst, SSANC Executive Director
Renate Roske-Shelton – “Art is a form of self-therapy. The activity of making simple creative decisions helps me to deep-process my past, remember big and small details of my life, mine these for feelings of comfort and pleasure and focus on the integration of recalled life moments with a wiser, more attentive and grateful now. I always learn from the aspects in the themes I happen to explore. Themes seem to present themselves to me and develop as I put brush to paper. As I start to paint, I never quite know where the activity will take me, but I am always happy for having spent the time.”
Anne McDonald – “Having… Acquired Brain Injury (with a little PTSD as well as anxiety) due to constant beatings I received from a partner a long time ago. I have found that expressing myself through poetry and walking the beaches by myself, finding a treasure means more to me than any person’s company… due that I became a loner all through my growing life without realizing why. For me, poetry releases the confusion and anxiety I get when overwhelmed and painting releases built up emotions and gives me a peaceful tranquil place of solitude when thoughts are in overdrive.”
Mary Anne Rowland – “Creating art for me is a soothing activity. When concentrating on the art piece all else is forgotten. Once I start a piece, I think about it between sittings, what I might want to add, especially small details. This keeps my mind busy and occupied and not allowing dark thoughts to get into my mind.”
Margaret Milroy – “My art was born from the wilds of Northern Ontario. After high school I left for Ottawa and, as life happens, decades passed without much thought to the art within me. Sadly, in retirement I became absent. Though since making St. Andrews my home in 2017, I have been reaching in and pulling out a handful of that art here and there, little by little.”
Misty Chapman – “Art has always been there for me, even in my darkest moments when it felt like there was no one else there when I needed them most. Hope Blooming was done at a time when I hadn’t done art for a long time, between working and raising kids I felt like I had no time for it. I ended up out of work due to physical injury and mental illness; I was given the opportunity to rediscover my love of creating art while in counseling and physical rehabilitation and was able to start making real progress toward better mental wellbeing.”
John Mulholland – “Art is important to my mental well-being as nothing else allows me the freedom of emotion quite like it does. It allows me to explore feelings and struggles I can’t verbalize, through every medium imaginable. Being a transgender individual as well, I find it gives me the open-minded expression of self I often times struggle to have in my day-to-day. It also allows me to create pieces that allow me to see myself in art, which is hard when you aren’t the “norm”. It allows me to unwind and focus as well, while my brain would much rather have me worrying about many of the symptoms of my mental illness (anxiety, depression, and OCD). It gives me mental and emotional freedom.”
Sarah Simpson – “In 2013 I would draw randomly in school when I felt down. It wasn’t always my best work at the time but, through high school, I began to draw more and more when I felt stress, upset, bullied or just on my free time. I soon fell in love with art and how it made me feel – like I didn’t have a care in the world. I soon began taking all my art class through high school along with having help from friends and my art teacher with my art and I have come a long way. Art is something that relaxes me.”
Whitney Matheson – “I am thinking about what art means to me. Both what it is and how I am learning to create it. Those both mean a lot to me. It is not about what I have to do. It is about what I want to and can do. I wanted to make it because I was excited when I was mentioned about how a canoe could be made in pottery. I remembered how I made the cup the last pottery. I asked questions when I needed help. I did not force myself to ask. I asked myself to ask.”