gretta gunn

My Own Experiences Of Art In Health

My painting 'Shoes Come In A Box, People Don't' was featured last week in this Irish Times article   about Headspace Magazine. HeadSpace is a creative writing and art magazine based around the theme of mental health. I think the painting and it's title are pretty self explanatory.

'Shoes Come In A Box, People Don't'

It made me think again about my own experiences having produced work for some of Ireland's hospitals & care facilities over the last few years. 

I was forced, while conceiving & producing the work, to consider very carefully the impact it might have on patients, their families and the staff of these facilities.

Below is a commission I did for The Hermitage Clinic in Dublin. The rising figure depicted over 5 canvases represents the journey from sickness to recovery and was intended to gently encourage hope and ultimately, well-being. The colours and weight of line are deliberately chosen so as not to be overbearing but suggest a lightness of spirit.

Shortly after, I became aware that I was reacting to that process through some of the personal work I was doing. I was surprised by the rawness of the resulting paintings. I was in fairness, also responding to a crisis of my own brought on by acute & extended homesickness. I felt genuinely anguished to the point it was having a physical effect on me. (Thankfully that's now resolved!)

These paintings are not self-portraits but certainly are autobiographical and the entire process felt very cathartic. I'm eternally grateful to my model Caroline Baker for understanding implicitly what was required. Raw, naked emotion. Plug for her: She makes awesome music! Check her out here 

While there isn't much debate around the capacity for art to effect us emotionally and intellectually, either while creating or appreciating it, I am also really interested in the physical impact it can potentially have. 

In her excellent blog post from earlier this year, Artfetch co-founder Patricia Tsouros, links to this Youtube clip. As she points out, it's all about the Dopamine!

While in this post from the same source there is a suggestion that artists are more prone to suffering mental health issues, I can happily report that I'm as far from slicing my own ear off as I could hope to be!

The very act of making art is the one thing, more than any other, that inspires, delights, challenges and motivates me to examine, explore and express my view of the world around me.
In short it nourishes me....

Art is therapeutic.

Finally, here is Art Dublin a great Dublin exhibition listing site. Now get some therapy!