The Institute of Mental Health's new autumn/winter 2018/2019 has now been announced. The institute is working with artist Andy Farr to create a series of paintings that will help people to understand post-traumatic stress.

Each painting will be based on a personal account of the impact of trauma on someone’s life. The paintings will show how people can grow during their recovery, as well as helping others to understand the feelings that trauma can create.

The first exhibition of paintings will be exhibited at the institute in Nottingham from 10th October 2018 - which coincides with World Mental Health Day - until 1st March 2019.

Andy’s work will feed into the institute’s “Arts and Trauma” Managed Innovation Network (MIN). This will provide a multi-disciplinary and creative platform to raise awareness, and new knowledge, on issues surrounding trauma. Investigating a wide range of trauma, from birth to war trauma, this is a rare opportunity to reflect and gain new insights on trauma studies and the therapeutic role of the arts.

Andy is an award-winning artist with a particular interest in mental health. His most recent series of paintings were based on exploring the effect of his father’s bipolar disorder on his childhood. A process, he says, enabled him to come to terms with his own trauma and move forward.

You can find out more about the exhibition, via Andy’s website it will then tour to other venues in 2019. The project is supported by Arts Council England and the Arts and Trauma MIN.

Andy says:

“My hope is that the exhibition of moving and thought-provoking depictions of what it is like to suffer and recover from mental health problems will raise awareness and consciousness of the issues surrounding trauma. Providing new insights into people’s experience of a wide range of types of suffering from birth trauma to war trauma. As well providing potentially positive therapeutic outcomes for those directly involved.”

Examples of paintings from the exhibition:

Twisted Rose

Twisted Rose WEB

“Twisted Rose” was inspired by “Mac’s” story. He suffered childhood abuse, and after therapy describes himself as feeling like “A twisted rose, growing out of the dark into the light, but still carrying the scars of his past”.


Burning Brighter

Burning Brighter WEB

“Burning Brighter” tells Danny’s story. His recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) inspired his song writing. Danny is lead singer of the band Embrace.

As he says: “The illness that had smashed me to pieces, the horror that had me fighting for air, isolated and trapped behind an ice wall now enabled me to see the world with growing clarity … Colours burned brighter, orchestras played in my head. I felt so alive … Songs poured out of me.”