Don't get rid of my devils,
my angels might go too.
I draw to clear my head. I have bipolar disorder with psychosis and it shapes my life. Art helps me to manage my illness, it is an absolute necessity. If I was offered life without bipolar I would turn it down. It is who I am and without it there would be no art work.
I started drawing while in hospital five years ago. Before this first admission my head was a ticking time bomb. I thought my life was normal. I thought the way I conducted myself and viewed others was normal. Once in hospital I unravelled, unable to cope as my illness worsened. I was introduced to different therapies and found that art helped me the most. It allowed me to focus, emptying my head of all the bad thoughts and visions weighing me down. I haven’t stopped drawing since.
When unwell I can produce a completed picture every 2-3 days. In a recent stay in hospital I finished 10 pieces.
I use A2 paper and gel pens, all my work is black and white as colour would not work with this subject. Every picture is personal, a piece of me, of my innermost thoughts and feelings. Each picture is unique. Once my head is empty the piece is complete.
Without my artwork I would not be here today. It gives me the freedom to live my life. I like to think of drawing as my second language.
I was offered my first solo exhibition in 2010, and was amazed at the reception I got. This inspired me to submit elsewhere and whenever I am selected or even short listed I feel a great sense of achievement and pride. These are hard emotions to accept for someone with an illness like mine. My work was also used by the Birmingham Rep for their brochure about Bedlam – a festival of mad ideas. 10,000 copies were printed and distributed across Birmingham.
Recently my artwork has become a more organised chaos. It has evolved, as I have, as my illness has.
© 2015: Jason Clarke
Extract from 'all-in-order'