‘Out Of Sight Out Of Mind’: a phrase often used in order to distract someone or suppress a fear or concern. The yearly exhibition of the same title held at Summer Hall, however, employs its title ironically, aiming to confront that toxic mentality and demonstrate that mental health can’t just be boxed away at your pleasure.
The exhibition’s chief aim is to create a community in which people with mental health disorders, historically unrepresented and ignored, can express themselves. Displaying over 100 artists, the diversity in voices and personal experiences presented in the exhibition opens up communication around mental health and gives attendees an intense experience.
The use of personal descriptions of the works by the artists themselves, instead of the often impersonal and factual labels normally used in galleries, conveys the primacy given to personal expression in the exhibition. Graham Richardson in his description of Music writes that his photographs document his recovery of his passion for music, having been so afraid he had lost his love during his depression.
The exhibition is at times more sombre. Paranoia and Depression, a black pencil drawing by C.E. Saunders, mirrors the dark omnipresent atmosphere felt by the artist during his depression with overwhelming intensity.
The definitive optimism and hopefulness of the artists and staff working on the exhibition is clear. This is perhaps best embodied in the nature section, which emphasises how nature and art not only help people to express themselves, but can also act as a coping mechanism. Kyle D. McInnes’ watercolour painting Fountain conveys a sense of confidence in both the exhibition itself and the movement for mental health awareness in general through its poignant imagery of healthy leaves growing beautifully from a person’s head. His painting captures a sentiment present throughout the exhibition’s incredibly diverse display of art.
Image: Kitty Golden