Ballpoint pen, ink on paper, upcycled frame
73.5cm (w) x 60.5cm (h)
‘Depression’, juxtaposes external and internal elements to the self, highlighting that the environment can affect mental health, and visa versa, mental health can affect the sufferer’s personal life. Seeped in symbolism, this traumascape depicts modern day stressors and effects on the sufferer. The sufferer is depicted here as female, since females are disproportionately affected by anxiety and depression for reasons that are not yet fully understood. Again, this is tentatively thought to be a mixture of biology and external societal influence disposing women to these conditions. The observatory represents the intense loneliness and isolation having depression and anxiety can bring. This is reflected in the recluse and fortified nature of the observatory building, the astronomy discipline being typically a solo activity. There is also great meaning in the open-eyed telescope, the ambition to search for others – to seek out other life and know that we are not alone. The rose again sits by itself, in full bloom, representing the strain on intimate romantic relationships, often leading to an increased sense of loneliness as the conditions are idealised and misunderstood by others. Anxiety has recently been romanticised as social media raises awareness for the illness. The outstretched bird is in fact a Martlet, which upon close inspection, is legless. It has only tufts of feathers where its legs should be. The martlet is a mythical creature that represents the ceaseless pursuit of learning, being legless unable to sit still in any one place. This also reflects the unsettled nature of anxiety. This was an incredibly personal symbol to me, as access to education and therefore social mobility has a huge impact on the mental health of people who identify as working class in Britain. Women who often pursue education often face extra hurdles such as application discrimination, limited promotion opportunities, and the prospect of a career hold due to pregnancy. The restless bird in search of knowledge faces huge pressures from western society that contribute to worry and anxiety over the sufferer’s current and future work opportunities. The ten pence piece reflects the earlier sentiment of stagnant social mobility. In a capitalist society, making ends meet is a huge stressor for the development of anxiety and depression. With an increase in the UK of working poverty, welfare cuts, gambling addiction, and reliance on food banks, many home finances are strained. In a vicious cycle, those with anxiety and depression may also find it harder to look after themselves, resulting in poor money management and further worsening their situation and mental health. The final ideogram is the foetus. Depicted at around ten weeks olds the foetus shines a light on children and the weight of prospect children. Pregnancy and child-rearing can cause post-natal depression and anxiety in parents. It is also thought that children with parents who suffer from GAD (generalised anxiety disorder) and or depression, have an increased likelihood of also developing mental health illnesses. This could be through genetic predisposition, or epigenetic effects from their immediate environment, though regardless are impacted in some form second-hand from their parents’ illness. These symbols of contributory factors to anxiety and depression are mapped to the brain through thin cords. This is designed to invite the notion that this relationship is bi-directional. The external factors can manifest as anxiety internally, but also there can be a origin of anxiety from within which then impacts aspects of the individual’s life. The half-folded wings are a subtle nod to the feeling of wanting to escape, and feeling unable to, in addition to the crippling effect of anxiety and depression on sleep - the wings representative of the Greek god hypnos.