Exhibition: Black Dog Night

Hello friends! Thanks to everyone who came to see Once Upon Again, the Pack of Wolves show at Winns Gallery. We had an amazing response and made many new connections with other artists over the course of the exhibition. The next Wolves outing will be an interactive project called Running With Wolves, featuring at the Stockholm Fringe Festival.

In the meantime I have been approached by Vibe Gallery in Bermondsey to take part in the second of their Black Dog Night exhibitions and events, raising awareness of mental health issues. I have a long, personal history of involvement with mental health services, and also run an online platform called Mental Spaghetti for artists who are mental health service users, or vice versa. Clearly I said yes to taking part in this project. I will be displaying eight pieces of my Happyland artwork at the show. More information about the event and art exhibition below…

“‘Black Dog Night: Back to Black’

‘Black Dog Night: Back to Black’ is the most poignant and inspiring evening hosted by Vibe Gallery on the 30th of August at 7:30pm; showcasing live acts, anecdotes and creative talents, with both educational and comedic elements. An art exhibition coinciding with the event, will run from the 29th of August until the 3rd of September.

This night is themed around the issues of those experiencing the troubles of social anxiety, which the general public aren’t often aware of. It showcases the lives of individuals that have suffered from mental illnesses; the Back to Black rendition of ‘Black Dog Night’ (which both follows from the previous black dog night but designed to be enjoyed as much by first-timers) will depict the lives of the individuals and experiences, depicting raw events & experiences that have taken place.

Although the subject matter is serious, our objective is to break the stigma of mental illnesses and bring a light-hearted approach of the conditions to a wide audience by focusing of the brighter side of dark situations.

The struggles faced in otherwise simple tasks lead to a unique set of problem solving. In all periods of personal tribulation there can be varying moments of fortitude, hilarity and indignity.

‘Black Dog Night’ hopes to bring all of these facets from the shadows and make the invisible more visible. Our aim is that you will leave the evening entertained, informed and inspired.

What exactly is the “Black Dog”:

The phrase “Black Dog” was made famous in recent times by Sir Winston Churchill, whom is referring to his own personal battles with depression. The metaphor however, goes way back to the Ancient Rome and was used by Horace to describe a bad omen or a symbol of the devil. In the 1800’s a more modern version of the expression has taken place “‘a black dog has walked over me” to describe being in a state of mental depression (Brewer 1870).

Please visit our facebook page to view the video highlights of the first ‘Black Dog Night’ to gain a flavour of what it’s in store!

Tickets £3 on the door. (also available on http://www.vibeplace.com)

Join our event on Facebook for up-to-date information or if you just want to say something.

Illustration Workshop, April 13th.

Illustration Workshop Poster

I’m doing an illustration workshop on April 13th for the inpatients at Highgate Mental Health Centre in London. The participants will be taking part in drawing a cartoon strip about a day – any day, past, present or future – in their life and how the day is relevant to their feelings. They will also have the chance to use many different materials and mediums to work on their pieces.

The workshop is invite only for the inpatients, however if you know someone who is attending the centre please let them know about the workshop. Please note the day of the workshop is actually the 13th April and not 6th as advertised on the poster.

Scottish Mental Health Art & Film Festival

I am massively excited to announce that I will be working in Edinburgh this weekend for the Scottish Mental Health Art & Film Festival. If you’re about and you fancy it, and especially so if you are a mental health service user, I will be conducting a cartooning (in the loosest possible sense) workshop at North Edinburgh Arts (details below).

The workshop is free but places are going fast so if you do want to book, book now! All artists will have to option to display their work in the Festival exhibition and included in a large illustrated book produced by my arts in mental health organisation, Mental Spaghetti.

The workshop will focus on drawing a comic strip of ‘A day in your life’. Artists (no artistic experience necessary) will have the opportunity to work with lots of different pens, inks, paints and styles of drawing. The comic strip does not have to be a literal day in your life, it can be a feeling, an expression of a particular time, or maybe even no time in particular. You can always do a stickman cartoon too. Anything goes. The important thing is you get to have fun, create, and learn something new.

If you would like to take part please book now by clicking this link.

Edinburgh & Lothian

Working with artist Marie-Louise Plum, you will create your own cartoon strip of a day in your life featuring what you think matters. All cartooners will have the opportunity for their strip to be exhibited in the exhibition and/or included in a book. No artistic experience required.
Venue Information
North Edinburgh Arts, 15a Pennywell Court, Edinburgh, EH4 4TZ
Event Information
Sat 8th
Booking required – Telephone Kirsten at CAPS on 0131 538 7177 or kirsten@capsadvocacy.org
11am – 2pm

North Edinburgh Arts, 15a Pennywell Court, Edinburgh, EH4 4TZ

Television x2


Having spent many years both working and rotting my brain in the mostly hideous world of television it’s no surpise that a)I don’t work in it anymore and b)I can’t stand to watch much of it.

That said, I did have the good fortune to stumble across a rather sensitive and human bit of programming last night, ‘The Doctor Who Hears Voices’, a docu-drama (i.e. part documentary footage, part dramatisation) following the true story of a female junior doctor suffering from mental illness.

Ruth, diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and experiencing acute schizophrenic episodes, found herself suspended from her NHS job after admitting that she frequently felt suicidal. What she purposefully didn’t mention to her employers, knowing full well that it would have almost certainly resulted in the termination of her contract, was that she was also hearing voices. Specifically, a male voice, urging her to kill herself and sometimes even the people around her.

I’d like to know if the calculated decision Ruth made to be economical with the truth (effectively in an attempt to put something right that she didn’t quite have full – if any – control over) had people up in arms, aghast, staring indignantly at their TV screens thinking that this dangerous deception should be dealt with by simply having Ruth carted off to the nearest nut house.

Therein lay the crux of the film. We didn’t only follow how Ruth’s illness affected her personally, but viewed an entirely bigger picture relating to the attitudes and methods people subscribe to when confronted with the eternally baffling and deeply complex make-up of mental illness – especially when the person in question appears for the most part to be an intelligent, competent and pleasant individual.

With the help of controversial psychologist Rufus May, Ruth embarks on a journey of self-discovery and self-deception, laying down firm foundations with which she is eventually able to stabilise her thoughts and emotions.

Throughout the film many pockets of psychiatric health care that so badly need looking at are dealt with, from the use of forced sedation to lazy subscription of medication to those who might not benefit from or even truly need it. A largely unpopular decision for many other psychiatrists, Ruth manages to steer well clear of medication throughout her therapy with Rufus. Employing rather more unorthodox approaches than the total personality wipe out that SSRI’s provide, Rufus prefers to talk directly to the ‘voice’ in Ruth’s head in the hope of uncovering more leads.

With a gentle tenacity Rufus relentlessly and objectively works on and with Ruth, to surprisingly positive results – ultimately getting very close to the bottom of her disturbances and even back into work once more.

All in all ‘The Doctor Who Hears Voices’ was a pleasure to watch. Director Leo Regan has no doubt been showered with praise by the UK press today for his touching and thought provoking film (even if it is only in the form of a ‘Last Night’s Telly’ column). Pleasant as this review is I wonder what he makes of the critics’ particularly careless and flippant closing salvo (or am I a bit too sensitive about the subject?).

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


So, with the rare and scant bright side of TV dealt with, let’s take a moment to consider the dead-eyed occupants of television’s lower echelons, otherwise known as Light Entertainment, or more annoyingly ‘LE’.

It’s no secret that Britain’s Got (a veritable plethora of) Talent (dancing dogs, freakish child dance troupes etc) but do Britain’s Judges Got Talent?

I don’t really have much to say about this, just let’s all we have a look and see, eh?