She Exhibition Piece 5 – She Struggled

Alison James. 2022. She Struggled. 610mm x 450mm.

This is the fifth artwork in my SHE Exhibition Series, which is based around mental health themes. As a narrative series of works, each piece tells a part of a whole story.

Last post we were left falling and I would love to tell you that it was all easy breezy and everything was peachy keen from those moments on but you know this isn’t the end of the narrative right? So THAT isn’t going to happen. I WILL tell you that we struggled.

She and I fought. It was really hard to let go of those thoughts and patterns that had forged pathways in my brain that were so well worn that I automatically followed them. And you know what the horrible truth about that is? I didn’t want to. Well, that is not quite true…part of me DID want to but part of me did not. It was HARD. It required constant monitoring and redirecting of my thoughts in order to change the toxic patterns I had spent so long building up and believing in. In turn, that was exhausting.

It was also frightening. In some ways, it felt more frightening than the overwhelming nature of the mental struggle I had been through. At some point, that mental mindscape I had been in felt normal. I was used to sitting in it and it was what I knew for so very long that to suddenly up and leave it felt…strange and uncomfortable.

It is like…when you have a comfy chair you like to sit in that you have had forever. The foam padding is thin so you can feel the springs in places. It’s kind of dirty and you really don’t want to put your hand down the side of it because you don’t know what you will end up touching down there and it has a bit of a funky smell to it. But it is your chair and even though it is uncomfortable and gross and you would really actually like a new chair, you sit in it anyway. Then someone tells you that you can’t sit in that chair anymore because it is giving you a bad back and you are allergic to the dust that puffs out of it when you sit on it. And you are like…but…I like this chair. And so it goes back and forth.

That was what was happening in my sessions with my psychologist. I remember being told about therapy, “Do it, even if it feels stupid.” So I did. We tried many things. Some things worked and some things did not. We went back and forth.

So this piece is all about that struggle. It’s about feeling locked in and wanting to break out. I don’t know how many of you remember a band called A-HA and the video they did of a song called, “Take on me” but there is a part where the guy in the comic book is trying to break free of the page he is on and that is what I think of everytime I look at this piece. I drew it as comic book cells and each one is a different part of the struggle that is happening. Again, the noise of the lino block printing method helps to add to the movement and tension of the piece. The simplicity of the figures makes you examine the poses more closely and the grouping of the cells together as a singular page is intended to reveal the often conflicting nature of the struggle.

That was how it went for what felt like a very long time. It was hard, and in those moments I tried to remind myself that the new moments I was heading for could not possibly worse than the moments I had been in. But in THIS moment…

She struggled.

Please do know that if you need help, crisis support is available

24 hours, 7 days

Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

or check out some of these links…

Beyond Blue

Black Dog Institute


And this is also a really good article by Australia Counselling outlining different mental health resources in Australia and what they do

One Comment on “She Exhibition Piece 5 – She Struggled

  1. Pingback: SHE – a narrative journey though acceptance of the mental struggle mindscape. – AlisonJamesArt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: