The Visitor

When I was 13 I entered a mental hospital for the first time to visit my father. He was suffering from his first major bout of mania, and about to start a life long dance with bipolar disorder and the cocktail of drugs that run alongside.

That is over 40 years ago, but I still remember the eerie feeling of walking through the corridors. A feeling of trepidation and unease mixed with something of the voyeur's gaze. The over ridding memory is of the unblinking stares that I received as I entered the day room.

I am seeking to capture something of that feeling in my next painting, a mashup of imagery - a day ward, 1970s wallpaper, and a happy family playing cards...

This is a detail from that painting



Twin Poles

My father developed bipolar disorder when I was about 12. At the time I never really understood how he felt, only the impact his behaviour had upon my mother and I guess myself. He lived with the disorder for thirty years dosed up on lithium and other products until he passed a few years ago. I have looked over my shoulder wondering if it was to be my destiny also, but so far, I seem to have avoided that fate. He never really talked about how it felt during the mania or depression. I’ve talked with a number of people who are bipolar, and I am starting to understand more about the euphoria of the mania as well as the sheer despair of the downs.

Art, music and poetry all have the ability to communicate thoughts and feelings that might be hard for people to express or understand. Over the past few months I have been exploring through my paintings how it feels to have bipolar disorder.

I am now looking to creating e a series of paintings based on people's direct experience of the ups and downs. I have set up a Facebook page where people can share a photograph, either of themselves or an image,  or a sentence, that encapsulates the feelings during the manic and the depressed phases of their bipolar phases. These will be used in two ways, firstly to create an installation made up of the actual words and images and secondly to inspire "two faceted" paintings that include the two aspects of the disorder.