She Exhibition Piece 9 -She Reached

Alison James. 2022. She Reached. Mixed Media. 1520mm x 760mm.

This is the ninth 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.

The last time we were with her, she was finding her way. Turning thoughts that were heavy and tumultuous into things of beauty and symbolic of strength. She was beginning to bear the weight of these words and own them. And from here, she would learn to stand and reach.

This moment stands out brightly in my mind like the last one, as being a pivotal point where things turned around. I knew I didn’t want to sit in this dark place anymore. I didn’t want to struggle by myself and feel separate from everyone and everything. I knew that to find a new normal, I needed to gather all my courage and reach. It was a big ask. To come from storm and shadows and void, where I had lived for so long and had this weird kind of stockholm relationship with, and reach for something that was unfamiliar to me and uncertain.

Like the child that she was, she and I stumbled a lot in these moments. But time and again, she stood and she reached. There were days when I didn’t want to and days when I just could not. There were days when I screamed at the world about the unfairness of it all and how I didn’t want to do this anymore. That it was too hard and too much and I wanted it all to stop. But we still reached.

My psychologist and I were putting strategies into place. Practicing them over and over again so I knew what to do, when and how. I was recognising thoughts that were no longer acceptable in the mindscape I needed to build and finding the consistency of it was paying off. This painting is chaos and confusion and determination. There is so much happening that your eye is caught on many things at once. It was a moment of change caught in time and thrown into a painting that took months of building and rebuilding and transformation. I hated it, I loved it, I wanted to scrap it and throw it against the wall, I wanted to frame it and keep it forever…how I felt about this piece was parallel to how I also felt about this moment in my life.

This is the largest of all my pieces. She stands lifesize. She is that wild child still, caught in the storm and reaching for your hand. The void is around her, but it is less significant now. She stands tall and holds out her hand as if to ask for a hand up. If you were to stand beside this painting and look down upon it, you would see the child she is and you would feel compelled to take her tiny, skinny little hand. Her head is overlarge and stuffed with thoughts, like a young child, she is yet to grow into the size of it.

No longer bowed by the weight of thoughts, she can see the way out and knows her time in this place is ending. The void around her is a palpable thing. You can see it in the texture of the background, this movement and the creep of it over her in places as if it tries but is hesitant to hold onto her, and the melt of it as it drips down the canvas.

She also looks like she is melting. The splatter of paint drips from her and over her as if she is becoming less tangible here. And perhaps she is. This was still her place, she still was a part of it, but soon there would be a new normal because she stood up and….

She reached.

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

2 Comments on “She Exhibition Piece 9 -She Reached

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

  2. Pingback: She Exhibition Piece 10 – She Dreamed – AlisonJamesArt

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