BC Artist Niki Hylins at the Penticton Art Gallery where she and her students showcased a series of self-portraits this fall. (CNW Group/Mental Health Commission of Canada)
I found the story of Niki Hylins, and her relationship between art and mental illness interesting, for I have been walking down the long path of illness with cancer. While, it may seem like a bit of a stretch taking Niki's story and applying it to my situation, there are common elements which many artists can appreciate.
Although I didn't have any particular mental disorder, I did for a period, struggle with a serious loss of health. So serious for that matter that there were questions whether or not I would make it - which leads me to the point of this blog entry.
During my personal winter of darkness, my wife encouraged me to paint. The truth of the matter was, that I found it almost impossible to pick up a brush and when I did, my works were dark and gloomy.
At the risk of appearing maudlin, let me share another experience with you. I posed a question to a group of ten artists, "How many of you have suffered from depression." The answer stunned me. That small sample revealed that 90% had had one time or another wrestled with "the black dog", as Winston Churchill called it; and as most of you no doubt know - Churchill among many things was also an artist who suffered from depression.
To read Nicki Hylin's story and of her use of art to deal with mental health in BC, please click here.
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A Portrait of the Visual Arts in Canada, is intended to celebrate the richness of Canada's visual arts, and to promote the arts in Canada.
Statement of Intent
I make every effort to credit the sources of information used in this blog and to obtain the permission and cooperation of all the works presented by living artists. I try, as much as possible to use works from public sources eg. national and provincial collections, of deceased artists. If for any reason, any artist disapproves of anything written about them or their work the artist is encouraged to request withdrawal of the content.