The aim of this project is to illustrate the lived experiences of individuals with a mental health condition through Art.
Mental Health and the Arts are often linked as therapeutic interventions. Such interventions include drama therapy, music therapy and also art therapy. Art therapists use the visual arts to help individuals understand their problems and ultimately cope with the challenges such conditions may pose. This study is based on the same concept but with a slightly different approach, that of supporting individuals with a metal health condition using artwork to illustrate the lived experiences of actually living with a such a condition.
This study provides a collection of paintings depicting the experience of individuals with mental illness together with descriptions of the feelings, emotions and experiences that inspired each painting. The artistic inspiration was derived from excerpts taken from individuals’ narratives of their experience with a mental health condition accessed via the public domain.
The collaborating artist on in the study is Mr Anthony Calleja, considered one of Malta’s most versatile artist with a career spanning over 40 years. Anton considers art as a way of expressing his emotions. He has gone through various experiences which had an impact on himself and his work. One such experience shared by the artist involves the great sadness he experienced when his wife had a miscarriage. This study aims to depict such struggles caused by life events.
Quoting the artist himself,
“They had presented the baby to me wrapped up in a parcel, and I had felt this to be a bit hard, which is why this is illustrated in a painting. Today I view it artistically, but at the time it had really hurt,”
“I had been ill, and I had started working on this painting as if death was approaching, and what was I going to leave behind? I was looking from above on my wife and children, on the dog I once had, events in my life… Then I got better, and without wanting to, I stopped this painting, which is now living with me. I can work on it again if something happens to me, so it’s really still a living painting,”
IN THE PRESS
How can we use art to address mental health stigma?
Dr Alexei Sammut writes about the art book Living with Mental Illness and the accompanying exhibition, which are his contributions to strengthen the discourse on mental health in Malta.