I have sat on this photo for almost a year.
Why? Because I know some people will find it confronting.
Well, yes it is. It's supposed to be confronting. Art is doing a good job if it challenges your head space, sometimes that means making people uncomfortable.
This is Dan.
Many years back he was in a horrific accident, and ever since has struggled with the physical and mental scars.
When we discussed mental health, we were thinking of a way to depict his own battle in one image. It's a tough ask, but the photo speaks for itself I think.
I'm sure there will be people who don't like this image. They (perhaps you) will think that it might lead someone to self harm. Personally, I don't agree. Funny that it seems to be people who have never suffered from mental illness dictating what they think is ok to see, ok to discuss. The "experts". The experts are no more an expert than the ones who suffer every day. Oh no you can't discuss or depict the reality. Just show us the recovery. Doesn't work like that.
People hide away, locked up with shame and self hate.
This depicts the reality for Dan. Why should we hide that? I can post you a million beautiful sunrises, a million photos of gorgeous dogs, and of course I love them, but it doesn't tell you a story like this photo does.
The Facebook police will no doubt tell me it's inappropriate. I doubt it would ever make it to the short list on a portrait prize.
I love that the mental illness stigma is slowly lessening, but it's not gone. All the RUOK? posts are great, but if people cannot see the reality of what people suffer from then it's all hot air and meaningless. "I will forward the chain post on FB but please don't expect me to actually look at anything confronting!, it make me uncomfortable".
This is REAL. This should be included in the discussion.
For the more we talk, the more we feel supported and not so completely alone, and that's what can give us the courage to face another day.