Animi x ArtBox: Mental Health Series – Rory Spencer

Welcome to our mental health series looking at the relationship between art and mental health, titled Animi, the Latin word for the mind. 

As some of you may know, we’re hosting our second ArtBox on the 13th of December, bringing you a not-so-silent art auction in aid of the mental health charity, Manchester Mind.  ArtBox involves a range of artists, both underground and professional, both local and based in lands afar. The event also involves live music and a selection of Funraising’s most coveted DJs. Animi comes in preparation for this special event, where Funraising’s most inquisitive writers speak with the artists involved in Artbox 2, unveiling a range of opinions and artistic perceptions of mental health. To find out how things went down last year, check out our review here.

In our third interview, Ornella Navari caught up with Rory Spencer.

Ornella Navari: Tell me about your artistic process.

My process is dominated by a need to be effectively productive. I don’t enjoy feeling lazy but often find myself lapsing into indolence if I feel like I have nothing worth working on. When I’m in the mood to act on creative impulses I try to be the most available to those moments.

Before, I studied Illustration at Manchester School of Art, and spent much of my time there painting and drawing. Trying to work as I live, saying yes to whatever idea occurred, and manifesting it close to the original inspiration. I prefer working with that immediacy, time dilutes the energy of inspiration and I believe you should make your first mark after that initial moment of coherency. It’s been a long while since I have painted, stress and debt have caught up to me, and I refuse to paint in fragments. Long stretches of time are essential but are sadly hard to find these days.

How has art helped you express yourself ?

In general, creating and discussing art has increased my confidence and decision-making. I find what I learn to be broadly applicable to the rest of my life.

How important is art in developing discussion around mental health? 

Art as a means of expression is like any other, it works best when there is communication. So the discussion of mental health in art works best when we don’t just consider a work in isolation, but also consider the context in which it was made and where it now stands since its creation. As attitudes towards assessment and treatment of mental health are progressively modernising, older works become critically indicative artefacts from which we can derive new consideration of our modern ailments.

Do you think a stigma continues to exist regarding mental health illnesses ?

Thankfully less and less. I think this new ground we are all breaking together can lead to confusions. If you have the broad term of ‘mental health’ to scapegoat you can unintentionally limit your progress, but it is for the greater good that it continues to be discussed and stigmas exorcised.

You mentioned your involvement in Penny Thoughts, which I’ve seen around Manchester and on your Instagram. Tell us more about what it is. How did you get involved with it and what’s your role?

Penny Thoughts is a single page, double sided, publication printed every two weeks gathering submissions from Manchester and the world beyond. It is a low pressure environment. Everyone, with something doodled in their margin, is encouraged to share it in print, hopefully encouraging them to continue their practice no matter their level of art education. I founded Penny Thoughts with my friend Jack Rientoul early this summer after realising early in the last year of my degree that this was

something many people would be interested in. I knew I would need a project to sustain myself in the maelstrom of debt and depression that immediately followed graduation. Everyone can create something, and we want Penny Thoughts to be the place they make their first mark. If anyone wants to submit our email address is, and our Instagram where you can view past issues.

Rory’s art will be available for purchase at Funraising’s silent art auction event, ArtBox, which is raising funds for the charity Manchester Mind. The auction will take place on December 13th, Solomon’s Cafe in Withington, from 5:30pm to midnight. 

Aside from working as a life model and running Penny Thoughts, which can be found across various spots in Manchester. Rory’s art takes a focus on appreciating objects and situations found in every day life and putting attention on them through varying mediums like paint and intricate line drawings. To see more of what Rory gets upto, his Instagram can be followed here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *