Looking to art for mental wellness
The relationship between art and mental health is well documented. As a means of expression, art can contribute to building awareness and literacy of mental health, and can help others understand the lived experience of mental illness.
For the artist, it can play an important role in the recovery journey, promoting wellbeing and reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Tamworth artist Hugh Oliveiro visited NeuRA recently to discuss his artwork “MOOD”, which he gifted to NeuRA as part of mental health month. It is currently on display in the NeuRA lobby.
“MOOD is an allegorical work, subtly addressing the conditions of mental health so prevalent in our world today,” says Hugh.
“I have aimed to create an aura of melancholia in a surreal luna landscape.
“It is symbolically enhanced by a profile in a dreamlike state of oblivion, reflecting despair, rejection and loneliness…falling silently into darkness like autumn leaves, detached…alone, locked in silence.”
Hugh explains that it was important to not make the painting confronting.
“I wished to make it more acceptable as a work but then by embellishing it with symbols, subtly create in the viewer’s mind questions that they themselves could relate to.”
The face is the focal point of the work. It is embellished by symbols including the moon and autumn leaves, which represent mental illness.
“Behind all of that, in a non-confronting, but interesting and rugged landscape, is a voice waiting to be heard.”
A laser beam through the painting is an overall of symbol of science, says Hugh.
“The beacon of light heralds the work of scientific research in the 21st century coming to the aid of humankind, and to shed light where there is darkness.”
Hugh’s final message is to embrace the little things.
“I think in such a technical world today, there are little things that enhance your life, simple things like nature or a beautiful day,” he says.
“Look towards nature, look towards what is around you and make little things count. Be not afraid to express yourself, and don’t think of yourself as less, but more.”
Hugh hopes that anyone who sees ‘MOOD’ can get involved in the work, and relate to it to create their own meaning.
“I am honoured to be able to create this work for NeuRA and to support it in this way.”
The artist’s journey
Art and mental wellness