From private to public: visions of troubled minds
Next to the entrance of the Jubilee Library is currently a mini photographic exhibition called ‘Experience in Mind.’ It is easily missed, in fact I walked straight past it at first, but on finding it I was confronted with a collection of intriguing photographs which visualise something predominantly interior and private, namely mental illness. It is an informative exhibition pushing for awareness of mental illness to the general public, and offering itself as an experimental training project called Experience in Mind (EiM), for professionals to gain an understanding of young people’s mental health needs.
The exhibition itself comprises of a small collection of photographs, each representing different aspects of mental health. The photographs themselves cover a wide range of feelings and behaviours. Many are focussed on a cake, representing the ‘bitter sweet’ reality of life. The cake has a heart shape missing from it, and in some, the heart shape is left empty; representing perhaps a missing part to life, and in others it was filled with pills; referencing the many prescribed drugs that are used to treat mental illnesses to make oneself ‘whole’.
In other photographs, the cake was surrounded by barbed wire and a razor blade, the barbed wire representative of the distance and isolation that mental illnesses cause. Cliché aside, it is a powerful image to look upon, and, generally speaking seems to wholly represent the barrier between the perception of the world through a depressive, or other type of mental illness state, and the supposed ‘standard’ perception for those without mental illnesses.
In the photographs which depicted people, all faces were blurred, distorted or covered with paper bags or luggage labels representing the significance of mental illnesses’ segregation within society; it is very much hidden behind exterior masks.
The exhibition offers free postcards with anonymous quotes and explanations making it, as a whole accessible and explained. Whilst not an art exhibition per se its aim is clear, and its images are clearer still and it certainly made me reflect on the lack of understanding of the ‘darker side of life’ within society.