After coming across a new project by Midlands based artist Niamh Treacy, I was keen to find out more and potentially get involved. The project revolves around the production of patchwork quilt consisting of two sides: one representing the lows of suffering from mental health issues and one representing the freedom or relief that may come from overcoming such issues. The project began at the beginning of 2017 which was stage one. This was in collaboration with the mental health charity MIND, where local groups across England and Wales were invited to create two patchwork squares showing both their experiences of suffering with mental health and the freedom or relief that may come from overcoming such an issue.
I discovered the project at the beginning of stage two, where Treacy invited artists who have suffered from mental health issues around the country to cross stitch the pre-made designs. The purpose of this was to open up a dialogue around mental health and help artists express their creativity in a collaborative project.
For myself, the project was a fantastic opportunity to collaborate on one huge project, which so heavily related to my own practice. I was very interested in the dynamic between my own practice which is highly personal and seeks to make my own internal state a visual entity, and this project which still examined mental health, but forced me to consider the states of others, through their own words. By cross stitching other people’s words and emotions, this allowed me to connect to someone I will never know in person.
Treacy also wanted the artists to cross stitch mindfully, which is another method I have used in my practice to gain a stronger connection with my own feelings and emotions. This allowed me to connect with the words of another person on another level. However, I found stitching anonymous people’s words to be such a strange juxtaposition. The words were so personal to someone else, and my method of mindfulness was also so personal to me, but I realised during the process, how impersonal the project actually felt. The connection with the writer of those powerful words will never be known to me, even though I connected with the words and understood why they were written. I had such an urge to know this person, though I felt compelled to keep a distance in order tocomplete the project in the way it was intended.
Overall, I am so grateful to have been chosen to participate in this project, as it has introduced another layer to my continuous inquiries into mental health concerning my art practice, and helped me to understand how others express and deal with mental health, rather than limiting most of my research to examining myself. I am so excited to see the finished piece, and as Treacy is keen to exhibit to piece, updates are sure to follow in terms of a venue and date in the near future.