With mental health at the forefront of national news and social media during the pandemic it seems prescient in these (nearly) post-lockdown days to take a long hard look at the issues and stories surrounding this much-misunderstood reality.
Out of Sight Out of Mind is an ambitious multi-media exhibition created by over one hundred exhibitors who have a lived experience of an issue many of us avoid or vaguely engage with. Now in its ninth year, the exhibition is host to paintings, drawings, prints, films, sculptures and installations which not only demonstrate the multiplicity of conditions collected under such a loosely-termed categorisation but reveal personal expressions via some truly ground-breaking art.
Many of the pieces could hold their own in any contemporary art space. Notable works include Long Walk to Freedom by S J Ferguson, a dark, wispy and juddering contemplation of despair, while Defiance by Ashley Mowatt is a fearless confrontational nude perched on an orange chair, created with scrubbed chalk marks. Trio of Pots by Marianne Macintosh displays a set of mischievous pottery that messes with the form’s usual tidy lines, creating gnarled, twisted and squashed objects that maintain an air of stubborn, funky chic.
Elsewhere, former medical student Lauren Stonebanks has created a stunning pressed flower image of her much-missed canine pal not seen since lockdown – Dandie Dinmont Flower Power is a buoyant array of chirpy bronzes on a purple background framed by symmetrical fuchsias. Other stand out images include Safety (Pin) by Jonathan Bell and Summer by Anne Denniss.
Noteworthy installations include a crawling wiry creature created by Heather Bell called Hollowed Out and African Glimpse (pictured), a draped sculpture by Maryam Yahia, featuring stunning brightly coloured tribal masks with somewhat gloomy expressions and blank eyes creating a solemn air of melancholy.
Some works are brash, in-your-face challenges while others are quiet, contemplative and dark, but the exhibition as a whole is an affirmation of some lively and brooding talent. Some exhibitors seek to confront society, politics and their own experiences, while others are simply reaching out, addressing our commonalities.
As well as the live exhibition there’s an online gallery and special ‘Meet the Exhibitors’ zoom event on the 26th October. However you view it, this year’s exhibition will stimulate, inspire and startle in equal measure.
With thanks to Malcolm McGonigle for this review. All images by Ian Dodds.