Interview with Clare Holloway
First of all let’s take some time to get to know you and what makes you tick. You are part of the Good Mental Health Co-op and we have written all about the Trialogue project previously (click here to view this article), but I want to look at what inspires your art and how you take the conversation, turning this in to different images of representation.
Can you tell us about yourself, ..
I grew up in Pompey. I’m 40 and learning to love it. I could tell you about my mischief making. I have a story for every pub in Albert Road, but I don’t want to over-share.
what brought you to be involved in the Co-operative?
I was diagnosed Bi-Polar, and spent two years in shock. I felt like a burden, and people wanted to cast me out of society. A friend invited me to an event with the Human Library, and I found a group of people that celebrated my Bi-Polar, and welcomed me as I am. I finally felt I had found my tribe.
When did you first pick up a paint brush and tell us about your personal discovery in your creative nature?
I studied Art, but had a ten-year break from painting. I took a ‘learn to draw’ class, trying to develop my pencil skills, but realised I much prefer paint. I mentioned to the Co-operative that I would be willing to use my ability to help with the Visual Note-taking and the rest is history.
How does this link with your mental health and what makes you passionate about community work in tackling stigma?
I have found my paintings to be a great outlet for my mania, and has encouraged me to learn to channel my mania for this productive purpose. It has helped me celebrate my mental health, and I hope that through my paintings others will also learn how to channel and celebrate their mental health.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have and why?
Mika and Hozier to sing to me, and my husband to give me company.
How would your best friend describe you?
Sometimes grumpy, sometimes crazy but good fun.
Let’s talk specifically about your work for the Mental Wealth Trialogues, each picture has a very different flavour, some more abstract to others.
What is the process you use to create these art pieces? (Internal thinking and actual actions)
From talking to people in everyday life, and listening to discussions at the Trialogues, I see an image which helps me to understand the discussion. Once I have the ideas, I put everything away for a couple of days, and carry on with my normal life. This gives my thoughts and ideas time to settle and process, before I start putting the ideas onto canvas.
My painting “Still Waters Run Deep” is a piece I consider very self reflective. It was a topic that was discussed at the Trialogue, and I know personally how much work it can take to hide my anxiety, while appearing calm and graceful.
Does this process vary and, if so, does this affect the end result?
The process can vary from piece to piece. The Piece, “Toxic Release” followed on from comments made at Trialogue, discussing how different cultures have different views on sharing inner thoughts, with some encouraged to bottle it up inside, and others feeling this is dangerous.
My Self-Reliance picture was a completely different process, where I sought opinions from friends on what the word ‘Self-Reliance” meant. This completely changed my view on the piece, and ultimately changed what the painting was about.
How do you choose what ideas to use and are you able to identify what makes a particular statement or concept stand out to you?
I like to pick up the different energy from each person, which helps me to connect with the different concepts. If an image stays with me for a few days, and the energy has helped me to understand the concept then I am pretty confident it is a good concept to stick with.
My self-portrait, “Lost Little Girl” is an insight my world. The idea of feeling ‘lost’ can be common, and that comment really stuck with me. Society makes attempts to supress us, through medication and ‘social norms’. However, in this portrait I want to express my own world. I may not see things the same as others (a blue heart, or a green flower petal), but it is me. If you look closely you will notice a small entrance between the supressed, sedated world and my back-to-front, upside-down world, because I always want to be able to escape.
Thank you so much Clare :0)