The Colour Blue

A blue, black, and white flyer for Colours of My Mind solo exhibition at Nolia's Gallery

Hi, I’d like to start with a big thank you to all my followers for supporting me and welcome to Spring. In my latest exhibition from 16 to 22 May at Nolia’s Gallery, 60 Great Suffolk Street, SE1 OBL, titled Colours Of My Mind, you’ll be able to enjoy how I use colours, including the colour blue, to explore and convey aspects of my mental health.

Mental Health Awareness Month

I have chosen May to host this exhibition, to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month, first celebrated in the USA in 1949. Today it has international recognition as we continue to push for the de-stigmatization of mental health and parity of esteem alongside physical health to ensure that people with mental health needs have the support they need when they need it.

The theme for 2022’s Mental Health Awareness Month is ‘Loneliness’ because of how the pandemic and the lockdowns have affected people. Now is the time for us to support each other and reconnect. Research has identified that loneliness affects your physical health and can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death. So that’s all the more reason to come to the exhibition and connect.

My version of Albrechut Durer's "The old woman with the purse" shows an old woman with perfect teeth with a halo as our society glorifies the rich older folk who can afford to spend money on cosmetic surgery. But many of those who change their looks have problems with mental illnesses.
A work in progress of my version of Albrecht Durer’s “The old woman with the purse.” I find this painting fascinating as the premise behind it is that she is rich but she is unable to use her money because she is now old. Nowadays, if we are rich we can use it on things like plastic surgery to improve our looks, but the same premise and mental health issues including lonelines still stands.

As someone who has learned to live with mental distress, I have found ways to understand my mood swings, or as a cockney would say, ‘Tower Bridge,’ meaning up and down.

Colours and Their Meanings

In my up-and-coming exhibition, a multiple paintings use the color blue. In Creating My Own PPE, I use the colour blue to play with notions of how people see blue. I also used my own fear as a subject. Before the first lockdown, I busily created my own hazard suit to protect myself while I looked after my COVID-ill partner. Trying to convey this through painting meant acting intuitively with colour to convey my emotions.

In Just One More Selfie, I use blue and a mixture of other bright colours conveying feelings of uncertainty and melancholy during the lockdown, as everything day was similar to Groundhog Day.

There are many aspects to colour: for example, the Greeks associated blue with rain. When the God Zeus got angry, he would create a storm; in turn, they thought he might be sad or crying, and that’s why he would make it rain. Similarly, in 1385, the poet Geoffrey Chaucer used ‘blewe’ in his poem “The Complaint of Mars.” He writes: “Wyth teres blewe and with a wounded herte,” which translates to: “With tears blue and with a wounded heart.”

As a visual artist, I am left with these interpretations and a common understanding of how some people perceive blue; however, blue is far more than a colour of sadness. It’s also the colour of the sea and the sky, so there are times when blue is both happy and sad. Understanding this dichotomy allows me to paint different moods using different shades of the same colour.

How we respond to colour may be determined by our experiences from our cultural upbringings. For instance, in England, you may be green with envy; however, green may represent fertility and even the color of a flag in a different country. In England, we know that we have the Green Man or the Green King and symbols such as mistletoe and holly, none of which represent envy. So colour can be a personal choice. What is important is how it makes you feel. If you enjoy wearing a bright red jumper and it makes you feel good, just do it.

What to Expect at Colours of My Mind

Some brightly coloured red and yellow portrait paintings of Florent Bidois from Colour Walk and Jess Thom - disabled activist.
Above are some work-in-progress paintings including portraits of Florent Bidois and Jess Thom.

In my show, you will see portraits of Sue Kreitzan, Florent Bidois, and Jama Elmi from London’s Colour Walk held at Spitalfields Market – an event I attend regularly. The Colour Walk was set up to enable people who wear colourful clothes to go and celebrate their creativity. 

You will see portraits of activists – many of whom, like me, are disabled, including Jess Thom (@Touretteshero), Penny Pepper – writer, and Katherine Araniello – performance artist. All mixed with my colourful and more abstract portraits, self-portraits, and, very importantly, my cats. 

I hope my colours invite you to have a conversation and allow you to share your feelings. Bringing our emotions out into the open is very important to staying well and maintaining mental health. What do I mean by that? I have ups and downs (like a bride’s nightie – as John Shuttleworth sang) – the Tower Bridge feeling – it is absolutely essential for me to explore my ups and downs via creativity.

I am exhibiting Colours of My Mind 
from 16 to 21 May
at Nolia’s Gallery
60 Great Suffolk Street, SE1 OBL,
with Private View on Tues 17 May,
from 6 to 9 pm.
Opening hours are Mon to Sat 1 to 6pm, Sun 1 to 4pm.

Other Upcoming Events

From 10 to 22 May, I will also be at the Affordable Art Show at Sprout Arts, 74 Moyser Road, a group show. Private view is on Tues 10 May 6-8pm.

Then at BletchFest, Grange Meadow, Godstone Road, Bletchingley, RH1 4PE, over the weekend of 20 to 22 May. You are welcome to come along and join me.

In June, I have a stall at Camberwell Green SE5 on 4 June as part of the Camberwell Arts Festival.

From 27 to 30 July, I will be running workshops at Turf Projects in the Whitgift Centre in Croydon.

Finally, I am taking part in an Artist Residency at the House of Annetta, 25 Princelet St, EC1 6QH, from May until August 2022.

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