The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art’s latest exhibition explores ideas, perceptions and conversations around mental health. Tyne Metropolitan College’s HND Fine Art student Jane Graham was shortlisted from over 15 applicants to exhibit three pieces of work, representing her experience of mental health. 

Challenging perceptions of mental health is still a glaring issue in today’s society, the stigma and discrimination attached can often be as debilitating as the condition. Statistics show that individuals who are experiencing a mental health problem are more likely to self-harm or suffer from violence than commit a violent act towards others. 

The Exhibition was developed through regional charities, North Tyneside Art Studio (NTAS), Newcastle and Gateshead Art studio (NGAS) and Launchpad in partnership with the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in recognition of World Mental Health day.  Jane, who has studio space at NTAS, was invited to exhibit after officials were impressed with how Jane addressed the subject of Mental Health within her work.

Jane said of the experience: “When I found out I had been shortlisted I couldn’t believe it! To exhibit at the Baltic is a once in a life time opportunity and at such a prestigious gallery in the North East is truly an honour”.

With a passion for art from an early age, Jane’s work explores feelings of isolation and loneliness and the attitudes of society towards mental health, from not being believed to the destructive ‘sort yourself out’ mentality.

Inspired by the childhood classic, Alice in Wonderland; for its juxtaposition of childhood innocence and the isolation felt by sufferers, Jane was invited to deliver a speech at the Baltic for the bARTer project and exhibition, describing the opportunity as an emotional rollercoaster that has left Jane feeling stronger, describing the process as lifting off her own ‘metaphorical mask’ as she begins the next chapter of her life.  Jane hopes the bARTer project can change the public’s view of people with mental health conditions and look beyond this to see an individual who can achieve amazing things.

Jane’s tutor at TyneMet College, award-winning artist Dr John O’Rourke said: “This is such a personal achievement for Jane, all of the team and students were rooting for her. It’s been such a pleasure to watch Jane’s progression and it’s a fantastic piece for her portfolio.  While studying on this course Jane, and all of her fellow students, will be expected to exhibit and create site-specific works in a variety of locations within the local community.  In addition to the exhibition’s role in challenging prejudices relating to mental health issues, Jane’s high profile presentation at the Baltic is also the perfect beginning for an ongoing range of public art and exhibition opportunities.”

For more information about the wide range of courses available at The Creative Studios, based at TyneMet’s Queen Alexandra Campus in North Shields, see http://creativestudios.tynemet.ac.uk/