What Goes On In The Mind? Sarah Mayhew Craddock finds out

Do you see what I see, or feel what I feel?

What Goes On In the Mind is an exhibition organised by Oxford-based art organisation AIMS and London-based Mental Spaghetti, exploring art and mental health that invites viewers to stand in the shoes, and step into the minds of others.

The exhibition, which continues at Oxford Town Hall until July 4, features work by 18 artists from across the South East, both emerging and established, and all with experience of mental health issues.

Work ranges from painting to illustrations, textiles and sculptures and offers an invaluable insight into the relationship between art, mental health and wellbeing. This is work that reaches out and offers a deeper and richer understanding of the world around us and the people within.

“This is an opportunity for the public to see some thought-provoking artwork that communicates through barriers that might otherwise be up,” says artist and Mental Spaghetti founding member Marie-Louise Plum. “It’s an opportunity to start a dialogue about subjects that we might not ordinarily feel comfortable talking about.”

Engaging with and creating art has been cited to improve motivation, increase social engagement, improve concentration, enhance self-confidence, engender more positive self-esteem, increase resilience and create a more relaxed state of mind; as well as the more predictable outcomes of increasing self-expression and self-understanding, begging the question of why we don’t all participate more actively in art.

“This may be anecdotal evidence, however, it marries up with research that identifies measurable health benefits and makes the case for funding community arts and wellbeing programmes.

“All our artists have incredible life stories and are sharing intimate accounts of experiences and emotions that many of us have experienced but can be reluctant to share.”

Those artists include art school graduate, lecturer and cult art-rock band David Devant and his Spirit Wife songwriter and singer, Mikey Georgeson. He was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder after an accident, “following a high-speed police pursuit and head-on collision with a vehicle stealing Royal Wedding medallions from local mint. All fact!”

He describes his bright, impasto oil paintings, as “a distillation of a desire to capture what I consider to be episodic globules in the glistening, sticky fluid called paint.”

Other artists include fellow musician and writer John Moore who has strummed guitars for The Jesus And Mary Chain, John Moore And The Expressway and Black Box Recorder and was once described by Nathaniel Cramp in the NME as being “…on a lifelong mission to corrupt the nation’s youth” so his work could make for interesting viewing!

This is an exhibition of personal struggles that many will relate to. It might not make for easy viewing, but given that ultimately we all walk a similar path, it may well prove purgative, reassuring, interesting, and eye-opening.

Where and when
See What Goes On in the Mind until July 4 at Oxford Town Hall, St Aldates mentalspaghetti.org