Collage 14

jh2sm

“When I came here my basic problem was that I couldn’t get beyond myself and I was anxious all the time. There was no tranquility; no peace. I felt like I was barred from access to normal things. It didn’t matter if the sun shone, if people were happy. Any of those things that would normally get me out of myself didn’t count for anything. So a lot of the images I was looking for to put in the collage were things that were barred, all these barriers in some way preventing me getting to what was beyond. These images I collected were representations of that same sort of thing. Partly quite sharp in focus in terms of the barrier, but equally quite cluttered. I also wanted some representation of my physical medical condition, but mainly I wanted the sense of finally being able to move beyond all those barriers. Here is a bridge to tranquility, to calm water, to something I could recognize again – the way things used to be. When I saw this bridge with ‘hope’ painted on it it seemed perfect for this. Its a metaphoric and a real bridge that represents the hope of being able to make that journey from this side to the calmer side. Very simple. I’m getting there. I’ve experienced some of this in the last few weeks, but for so many months I was anxious every waking minute, and even when I was sleeping. It was exhausting. I chose some words to put in there: ‘future’, hoping for the future; ‘collapse’, because I felt I was on the point of collapse when I went to the crisis house. And the other thing that was important for me is something I have never been very good at in the past because I have been so self-reliant. I have never been good at asking for help. I’ve always been someone who can deal with it. I think ‘just get on with it and you’ll be fine’. But I wasn’t, so it was important to be able to ask for help.”

Collage 13

Irsm

“I just realised that cutting out text is also a good idea. Words like: meltdown, grief, SOS, spies inside, up in flames, quantum leap, epidemic, false, robotic biology, nothing, coming clean, roots of disease, the noise of billions of brain cells, black swan, does mourning become a mental illness?, birds of prey… all seemed to have something in common. And then the images: obviously brains goes without saying as you are dealing with something that’s mental, and then presumably its got something to do with your brain. Mincemeat, well that’s how I feel, just like a lump of mincemeat, no fabric about me whatsoever. And then a steak just because its meat again. And this howling animal, whatever it is, or maybe its screeching, or maybe its just about to bite, I don’t know is how I feel. I’m a victim of my own shit. Of my own brain, and its attacking me. I love the robot because that’s how I feel: totally out of control. I am not in control at all, somebody else is controlling me. I don’t know how to control myself. And this woman here next to the boot seemed to be smelling her armpit, while massaging somebody else. I don’t know what that’s about, but its just to do with behaving and being on a side of existence which is not very palatable. And this beetle here, with the red head and black and yellow stripes on his back, well he’s just a thing of gorgeous beauty as is the plant around it and I know there is beauty around, but do you think I can find it? No, I bloody can’t! I mean I slightly recognize beauty, but am I anything to do with it? Am I making it? Not really. This hair assembly over the top of quantum leap, it was something that was flying away. It was so crazy and wonderful that I thought ‘that’s where I’d love to be, somewhere crazy and wonderful. Quantum leap is required’. I know loads of people who have bodies that don’t work and they are in awful shape physically, but for some reason they still have hope. I’ve got things loads of other people would give their left and right arms for: I’ve got a roof over my head, I’ve got money in my pocket, its not huge but its enough, and I’ve got three healthy grandchildren, why aren’t I delighted? So this was an opportunity for me to get things off my chest. Here it is, I’ve got them off my chest, but I don’t fucking care. Ok, I can do things like this. I can see that other people have a bit more difficulty, I just see what the pictures are and tear them up and stick them down. I don’t have any fear about getting it right, there is no right about this, its just a matter of doing it.”

Collages 10

M1sm

“There’s a lot of meaning here, relating to what’s gone on in the last year of my life. My daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy, and I have epilepsy as well so we can no longer live together. In this corner here I have an image of some stars on a black background. I believe my brother who committed suicide is somewhere in the stars. And I made an RIP over the top of that. Under here I have images of an arrow and the police. My brother in law was shot and killed by the police on New Year’s Day this year, for a crime he didn’t commit. I see faces in everything, and I hear things as well, that’s about my psychosis. Here I have a chess board in black and white and on top of it I have put a name, which represents my brother who committed suicide a year ago. Marilyn Monroe here looks almost like she could be in a coffin because I suffer from suicidal ideation. And behind her I have a brick wall. I am always feeling like I am hitting a brick wall in my life. Everywhere I turn. Underneath the image of what would be my daughter and myself I put the words “you are woman”, question mark, meaning I lost my daughter, am I still a woman? Am I still a mother? Underneath here I have got “the false promise”. I have been let down a lot in my life. My birth-father worked for the SAS and he has worked a lot for the British government and yes, maybe this is my paranoia, but I do believe he is still alive. I don’t really know him very well, but he’s a spy. Here I have an upside down spiral staircase because that feels like how my life is going – upside down, spiraling, and above that I have the word flashback because I often suffer from flashbacks into things that happened to me in childhood.”

m2sm

“This one is more visual. It has quite a lot of things in it that I like on top of other things that I am not so keen on. So in the top left corner there is an image of purple sky with razor sharp cliff edges, on the top there is a word saying ‘balancing act’ because that is how my life is: on edge, balancing. There is an image of a part of a brain that has had an aneurism. In my family we have a lot of brain problems. My parents are first cousins, and now my daughter has epilepsy, so brain images always come to me. And then I have the words here growing up saying ‘unreal/real’ next to a much larger image of an old camera with a new lens. And we have lots of cellos in the background. I used to play quite well until I had a seizure and knocked out my eardrums.”

Collages 9

D1
“Typically when I have hallucinations I’d see a lions head in the background somewhere. Just coming out of the back. I would see quite a few, and I would see the background as spiky, very jagged, very sharp. I would be drawn to trees with their branches and I would see spikes and spiked up objects and that’s why I chose this particular type of background. And so I transposed lots of heads of lions on this background. I photocopied it again so the lions blend in a bit more. The heads would be there, not doing anything, but that would be enough to frighten me. I mean, it would be enough to frighten me previously. These heads are now changing into eyes, which is a bit better. It means that they are not as foreboding as they were before, but at the end of the day l don’t want to see anything.”

D2

“The eyes are just windows. Everything that’s a window seems to be looking at me. So, anything that is round, or has a shape of a window feels like its looking at me. For whatever reason my brain is saying that window is looking at me. It feels like an eye. I don’t look at it directly, I just look away from it. When it was the lions I could literally see lions. Now I see eyes, the windows are transposed into eyes. It feels like they are looking at me. It’s the same sort of thing. When I am in a heightened anxious state and somehow my anxiety is projected onto a building it comes back to me as eyes and mouths. That can also apply indoors if there is an unusual combination of shapes.”

Dn3t

“There is no way I can create what I actually see. The collages are more creative. They are not exactly what I see so I can work on them without feeling that I will flip over. Looking at photos of the actual places is difficult – in the collages I am not actually there – I am creating what I think it would be like if I was there.”