Welcome to our 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 date 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 inArtbox 2, unveiling a range of opinions and artistic perceptions of mental health.
Our third interview with the thoughtful Tanisha Salakoh conducted by Eleanor Forrest.
Eleanor Forrest: How has art helped you express yourself ? and what is your process ?
Art – specifically abstract painting – has for me become an amazing form of expression over the years. Whatever my current mood was at the time of painting (e.g. stress, joy, happiness, anxiety, etc.) would be reflected within the painting via the textures, colours, and application techniques. My painting would represent myself, in that current moment. However, I feel like I used to use painting and creative expression as a form of escapism. I used it as a coping method to dealwith stress – primarily related to being overworked in my previous job – working as an Executive in Corporate Finance.
However, over time I realised that painting didn’t necessarily have to be a form of escapism. I shouldn’t have to only paint when I am under stress or pressure, as being creative has always been an important part of my life and my identity. The more I painted and created, the more I started to recognize the parallels between abstract expression and mindfulness practice. Mindfulness –
similar to abstract expressionism – focuses on the present moment. I am not thinking about what I will paint next. My aim is not to reproduce something that I have previously created. The canvas speaks to me and flows and I let how I feel in the present moment dictate how the painting will turn out.
The benefits of this artistic practice are amazing as I feel so much more calm and relaxed after creating. Whatever issues, or worries that I had before painting, quickly dissipate, and seem trivial.
EF: Do you think a stigma continues to exist regarding mental health illnesses ?
Yes I do, however I think there is less and less stigma regarding mental health as people become more educated, and openly talk about it. About half the population will deal with mental health issues at some point in their life whether it be depression, anxiety, or anything else.
EF: You lived in Manchester for a while, but have recently returned to Canada. Is there a difference in how the UK and Canada regard mental health ?
I think that the attitude regarding mental health in Canada is similar to that of the UK. I believe that mental health and wellness are slowly becoming more important for organisations and employers. Providing EAP programs and and counselling services for staff or offering free wellness classes including yoga are small ways that organisations improve employee wellness.
Additionally, there are “Mental Health Awareness” weeks and days, where people are encouraged to share stories and talk about mental health. All to attempt to remove the stigma around the topic. For example, Bell Let’s Talk is an advocacy program by Bell Canada to promote mental health education, research, awareness, and ending social stigma.
EF: Does more need to be done for people with mental health struggles ?
The more we treat mental health issues like physical health issues, the less stigma there will be around mental health issues. If you catch the flu or break your leg, friends and family are always there to support you, and help you in order for you to make a quick recovery. Mental health should be no different.
Tanisha’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, from 5 pm to midnight.
From the world of Corporate Finance to life as abstract Artist. Tanisha’s impressive avant-garde works are born from the unconscious mind and through abstraction she articulates her thoughts, feelings and emotions. Inspired by Jackson Pollock and Gerhard Richter, Tanisha uses acrylic on canvas to create bold and inspiring work you can access her Instagram account here.