No Labels Series


The symbolic art portrayed in this series has only one subject. She graciously allowed me to photograph her in her natural element after a stint in rehab. The energy between us was one of spontaneity and creativity. While in this process, it got me thinking about the stigma attached to mental illness. And that is why I decided to call this series ‘No Labels’.

Salvador Dali, Paul Gaugin, Edvard Munch, Jackson Pollock, Michelangelo Buonarroti, and Sylvia Plath had something in common. They experienced life in duality. Traits such as being open to experience, exploratory risk-taking, and tolerance to ambiguity made them see and feel and understand more. But they also hurt more easily and so were more prone to experience suffering and dark moods.

Munch wrote in his diary: “My fear of life is necessary to me, as is my illness,” he once wrote. “Without anxiety and illness, I am a ship without a rudder…My sufferings are part of myself and my art.”

Van Gogh wrote in a letter to his brother: “I am unable to describe exactly what is the matter with me. Now and then there are feelings of emptiness and fatigue in the head… at times I have attacks of melancholy and atrocious remorse.”

When we encounter someone who is “different” we should strive not to label, but rather cultivate an understanding of the privilege to have met someone brave enough to face their demons and wrestle through the dark until the break of dawn.

The inception of this series commenced in April and continued through May 2017.

Showing all 11 results

No Labels #056

Statement: Jackson Pollock's creative genius has had a profound influence on many artists, but he suffered from bipolar disorder and alcoholism for most of his life. Might we be willing to consider that mental illness is not only mood swings and every label associated with it, but also a place from which beauty, creativity, productivity, and insight are conceived?

No Labels #084

Statement: Edvard Munch feared inheriting a mental illness that ran in his family. Perhaps he discovered relief while he was painting, because in the creative process you can only be in the moment. Having the feeling of living in the moment is like walking in gold dust after having been in a dark, damp and lonely prison cell.

No Labels #086

Statement: Salvador Dalí and his contribution to the history of art is a perfect example for highlighting the fact that abnormality is not necessarily disagreeable – or to be so readily dismissed as a sign of neurological disease. For without his instability, Dalí may not have created the great art that he did.

No Labels #133

Statement: Vincent Van Gogh, his paintings being celebrated as some of the most influential art of all time, was combating frequent episodes of depression and paralysing anxiety. His art was his therapy and he found an unflinching sense of purpose through his painting, seeing his psychological struggles as his artistic truth.

No Labels #174

Statement: Paul Gauguin suffered from mental health challenges which led him to attempt suicide several times. Talking about mental health helps improve our communities by making it more acceptable for those suffering from mental illnesses to seek help, learn to cope, and get on the road to recovery.

No Labels #195

Statement: Michelangelo Buonarroti was celebrated as Europe’s greatest living artist, and today he is held up as one of the greatest artists of all time, yet he displayed symptoms of Aspergers. Is it so bad that an individual has an all absorbing interest in something which causes no harm, but creates beauty in an otherwise dull and less colourful world?  

No Labels #221

Statement: For centuries mental health disorders have received a negative perception because sufferers of mental disorders were thought to be demon-possessed or to be suffering from some other supernatural affliction.

No Labels #222

Statement: Francesco Goya's preoccupation with insanity and the treatment of the mentally ill was perhaps a reflection of his declining mental health and psychical state in his latter years. He captured the torments of the mind, yet the freedom of imagination in a way that speaks to us all.

No Labels #287

Statement: Sometimes we put on a show for the people around us by pretending that everything is fine, when in reality we are busy drowning.

No Labels #304

Statement: Whether you have been diagnosed with a mental illness or not does not make you impervious to feelings of shame, hopelessness and isolation.

No Labels #322

Statement: May your plans for good be birthed in fertile soil, and may they multiply before your eyes and benefit many. Description: This artistic work is a portrait of a woman. She graciously allowed me to photograph her in her natural environment at home. The energy between us was spontaneous and creative, and I realised that I was in the company of someone with immense talent. At this particular juncture, she picked up a string of fairy lights and began to move to the rhythm of the music playing in the background.