Mind State: A personal project about mental health

For years now I have been trying and failing to come up with a visual project about mental health/illness. In fact I've also written several blog posts about this topic after seeing a slew of creatives all discussing how they struggle with mental health online, but I have always deleted them. Depression still feels a bit of a taboo subject or something people still see as an over exaggeration, something you will 'snap out of', or even a call for attention-I think that's why I have always deleted my scribbling. 

For the record I was diagnosed with depression around my 20s, I remember my doctor saying it was surprising it hadn't appeared earlier considering my medical history up to that point. While mine was only a mild case and I was off medication soon afterwards over the years its always been there, lurking in the background. Around my 30s I found myself in a job I hated for 5 years and in a volatile relationship that I could not seem to get out of that had me dipping back into past troubles-I was almost always angry, felt insanely alone and trapped.  I had figured out tricks or ways to balance myself-music in my headphones was one of these (later on the use of Twitter was another way of release). I used to have headphones in or close to me pretty much all the time just in case I needed to drown out/calm my thoughts quickly. In fact I still have music in or around me when needed, but while these tricks helped, they didnt get me out of the situations/feeling better.

Without going into too many details, in the back half of 2016 I felt a change happening again. In my 20s there had been a breaking point (literally) that got me to the doctors and when I was in that bad job/relationship years later there was a chance breaking point there that got me into a better place then too. In January 2017 mind racing almost hourly, countless near sleepless nights, feeling physically sick almost daily and added amounts of anxiousness every time I had to deal with certain matters or people a breaking point would happen again. 

It would be on a beach in West Sussex close to my family home where I had been so many times in the past to walk and clear my mind. This time I had my pinhole camera and a bunch of Polaroid film. The fresh air, the rain, the empty winter beach always does wonders for me-Photographically and mentally something clicked. In that moment I knew what had to be done to balance the troubles that was making me unhappy in my day to day and I knew exactly how to make a series of photos representing the levels of depression, anxiety and stress that has fluctuated in and out of my life. 

What follows is the start of a series of images shot entirely on old Polaroid 4x5 Film stock with a pinhole camera-The process itself to get these photos is often serene and relfection filled. The images are of isolated objects with a circle that represents me and how I have been feeling either in that week or memories of the past. The grey circle represents the anxiety/stress/depression, the larger the circle the more intense the moment was. It has been an incredibly cathartic process. 

There are many out there that suffer and don't/cant reach out or aren't fortunate to have the support and loved ones I am glad to have in my life. As I have found in the past few weeks after slowing releasing this series, you (we) are not alone, my hope is that by sharing this personal experience and series that it touches someone somewhere, maybe even help.

*Update: the follwing photos have been changed since inital post. Due to the nature of a long project, one gets better with equipment, materials and gets a better vision (in theory). There is now also a Instagram Page where you can view the full set as they happen: mindstateproject

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Art of the Building 2016 competition finalist

Hello, 

Apologies for the slow blogging of late, its been a pretty full on last few months after The Other Art Fair with little time to sit down and update. 

This morning I woke up to the BBC website informing me that I had been selected in the final 15 of the 'Art of the Building 2016' competiton run by the Chartered Institute of Building with my triple exposure 4x5 interpreation of the Foster + Partners "The Gherkin". 

A fantastic way to end the year and an honour to be selected amongst the thousands of entries. It now goes to a public vote: So, here I am asking if you like this photo to please click the link below and vote for it. It would be very very muchly appreciated, and of course a Happy Christmas to you all :)

http://www.artofbuilding.org/vote

Limited Edition Prints of 'The Gherkin" are also available for sale via Saatchi Art on the link below:

https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Photography-The-Gherkin/160701/2820987/view

Open House London: Roca Gallery

Leaving behind the disappointment that was Battersea Power Station (see previous blog) i rushed over to Roca Gallery and as i could no longer see any of the other places i whizzed over before it closed. 

The Roca Gallery is a beautiful space, its main function is to serve as a showroom however it is designed by Zaha Hadid Architects known for their/her futuristic, space aged designs. 

The Architect: taken from Roca Biog

Zaha Hadid: "is the founder of Zaha Hadid Architects, was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize (considered to be the Nobel Prize of architecture) in 2004 and is internationally known for both her theoretical and academic work. Each of her dynamic and innovative projects build on over thirty years of revolutionary exploration and research in the interrelated fields of urbanism, architecture and design. Hadid’s interest lies in the rigorous interface between architecture, landscape and geology as her practice integrates natural topography and human-made systems, leading to experimentation with cutting-edge technologies" 

Its a wonderful space, and although they had a talk going on (sounded good from what I could hear) i set about taking some photos. This is why i love architectural photography and why i have persisted in Open House up till now, it might be my day job, but sometimes the places have already been shot and this is the only way i will get a stab at it, albeit by trying to avoid the public and without my tripod and favoured Tilt Shift lens. Still we use what we have at hand..... 

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Open House London: Battersea Power Station

Its September and that can only mean one thing..... my birthday! Well, yes.. that and Open House London. In case you don't know Open House is an organisation that in conjunction with many private, public and residential owners/architects/designers/buildings offers the public, for two days free admission to see, wander around and listen to tours about the buildings that are so prevalent in our lives. Sounds good right? And for the most part it is, its a wonderful idea to get people interested in architecture and design but there is a big BUT for all it's wonderful attributes and the amazing task in getting all these wonderful buildings open it falls short quite often in communication and basic organisation and leaves many frustrated and annoyed. I have now tried three times, all three years have been a pain in the back side. 

This has been this year:

So Open House offered the public once final chance to see inside the beautiful Battersea Power Station before it gets turned into horrible modern "luxury" apartments, shop and cinema complex that age quickly and that the average Joe Bloggs of this city couldn't and wont be able to afford, i am glad something is being done to this building but just not that, anyway thats another conversation for another day. Open House had advertised that Battersea was going to be open in the media heavily, so they should have known that alot of people would turn up right? Weeeeeeeeell, seemingly not. 

Below is a map, the station on the right, the reds dots indicating the queue to get in. I turned up around 10:15m, the end of the queue was at Albert Bridge, at one point Twitter was saying it stretched well over 1 mile long!

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The building opened at 11am, by the time i got under Chelsea Bridge 3 hours had passed, the police were called in, and everyone was told they wouldn't be getting in. Oh, i didn't tell you that another queue had decided to form elsewhere and were pushing into the main one! Total chaos. Luckily they let us proceed although had said it would/could be another 2 hrs! It was at this point i nearly gave up but i didn't and eventually i got inside. 

SO then, i would love to show you lots of photos of one of the countries most iconic landmarks but i cannot. Once inside you followed a covered tunnel that led to a covered marquee, which then finally led to a patch of earth in the open, maybe total of 600-800 sq ft (see picture below-blue area) with only really the back wall to look at, a portion of the right side Wing and some stairs to exit the building on the left-where if you could fight past all the people looking up with their phones, iPads, cameras, or taking "selfiess" of themselves (not kidding) you could see the opposite wing of the building. To be honest there would be no point in me taking photos because one quick google and you can see thousands of the same thing instagrammed, retweeted, hashtagged and facebooked. I left feeling swindled. 

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I've seen what the inside of the station looks like thanks to Urban photographers who have balls the size of brass knobs, its sensational, there is an incredible control room (that will probably be dismantled and stuck in a museum), we didn't see any of that, the huge wing, not allowed down.... i am not stupid, the insurance to let that many people in must've been staggering and i am sure due to health and safety alot of it cant have thousands of people wandering around-but however, even if they had opened up the "wing" (picture below) then it would've been a bit less crammed and would've given people more sense of the wonderful space that it truly is..... sadly my love for this building was lost amongst the sea of snappers clambering over themselves to say "i was here"

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This is not the first time this has happened with Open House, every year people turn up wait and get told to go away, places haven't opened and the "oh we're sorry we didn't expect so many people" line is tired and boring. Its been going for years you should expect it, we expect it so why don't you???? Battersea Power Station staff said to us "they were over subscribed" and it was a surprise, come on, really? Then why does it happen every year at Lloyds, Bank of England the Gherkin etc etc? These big places should be ballot only, there should've been staff to walk the line to tell people it would be a long (very) long wait, but there wasn't and i wasted most of the day and only got to see one other place thanks to it.

I'm sure the restrictions aren't probably Open House's fault but the organisation and lack of communication is. i appluad its intent, its a very good idea but its now so big it needs looking at.....i personally wont be doing it ever again.

On a final note: i have tried several times to contact the owners/tours to visit the control room as they used to do tours for architects and architectural visits and no one ever got back to me, there seems to be one way to see the true Battersea Power Station that was hidden from us and everyone today and over last few years............ i'll leave you to google that!!