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Addressing mental health through art; the face behind the mask

How can someone as bright, happy and as bubbly as you are Dee, create such DARK and scary artwork?

This is a question that pops up quite regularly. It’s interesting of course. Perception and what we perceive is our own individual creation. How we present ourselves to the world is forged from our own construction, arguably based on our innate need to fit it, be accepted, be part of a bigger community.


I guess we learn quite quickly that to fit in and be accepted means putting on a brave and happy face. Nobody wants or needs to see actual pain, suffering, angst, sadness etc in a person because apparently, we’ve realised that these particular feelings/emotions make people uncomfortable, regardless of the fact that most of us at some point in our lives have felt this way. But we know that it’s painful to feel these feelings, so we hide them, bury them, push them to one side, distract ourselves, busy ourselves, ANYTHING to avoid actually confronting REAL raw painful emotions. Why? Because it hurts.


Some of us have become so adept at wearing ‘masks’, that we’ve learned to hide all that real raw, and sometimes ‘messy’ stuff. In my own experience, spending a lot of energy trying to mask my own inner turmoil only serves to delay growth and avoids a really vital healing opportunity.

So, why have I decided to explore the current portrait series I’m working on? Because I truly believe that by allowing my subconscious to flow out of me using the tools and materials I use to create portraits, I’m giving myself permission to heal any internal traumas. I see it as a cathartic outpouring of emotion, but by using it in an artistic practice, I’m able to share, connect and be open about my process.

In doing this, I’ve seen other people open up their own wounds and share their painful experiences. This to me, is the icing on the cake, to be able to affect others in a way that heals brings me so much joy. To raise important issues around trauma, anxiety, mental health in general feels vital to me and something I need to be a part of.