Art has helped rebuild Mark Pearson’s confidence and sense of self amid his ongoing battle with chronic depression. A fragment of light in times of darkness, art has uncovered many opportunities for Mark – which he has willingly grabbed with both hands.
“I’m a draftsman by trade, so I’ve always been involved in mechanical engineering type drawings – but I didn’t get involved in arty drawings until about nine years ago in hospital. The art facilitator saw my sketches and encouraged me to have a go at painting. I didn’t think I could do it, but she helped me out.”
“I found that art was a creative outlet which really helped with the depression. It was something I could do that made me feel good about myself; something I could be proud of. Art seemed to be something where other people said, ‘you’re really good at this’ and that doesn’t happen too often in life. I was able to focus on that when everything else was quite crappy.”
As he continued to develop his craft, Mark discovered further benefits to his wellbeing.
“I got involved in different art groups, which made me more social. Sometimes I had to talk about my work, how I did it and why I did it. All those things are really useful. I’ve been able to meet new people and attend exhibitions as well.”
“Art adds another dimension to my life. If you’ve just got work and home, work and home, that gets fairly tedious. Through art, you discover another really interesting layer to life. I’ve also found that having a focus on art changes the way you look at things out there in the wider world; you start looking for ideas and things that you really appreciate.”
|"City Hall" by Mark Pearson on display at the 2022 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition.
Mark’s 2022 entry into the Recovered Futures Art Exhibition is a perfect example of him being inspired by his local surroundings. Recently trying his hand at print-making, Mark submitted a print of Brisbane City Hall – the very location that the exhibition was being held.
“I looked at City Hall, which I’ve always admired, and started to think about what I could do with it and how it would look from an artistic perspective. I started to piece things together from there. Being a long-time visitor but first-time exhibitor, it was a thrill to sell my work. Not only that, someone else got in touch with me on social media to arrange a print of my artwork.”
Mark’s mental health experience and passion for art has allowed him to explore a fulfilling new career path. Seven years ago, he started as arts and crafts facilitator at RBWH’s mental health ward. Through his work, Mark guides people to express themselves in a healthy way, while enjoying some escapism for a moment in time.
“In my role, I don’t have expertise that I offer, it’s more about working alongside people, understanding their struggles and doing what I can to help them. The days are long for people on the ward, sitting around waiting for doctors. I think it’s good to step away from the clinical, diagnostical space and do something creative.”
Mark believes the exhibition does a lot to normalise mental illness, while encouraging people who are going through it to keep fighting the good fight.
“The exhibition is doing great things, in terms of taking up a prominent place in the city. It helps put the topic of mental health front and centre in the community.”
“I hope that by connecting with the art, people can get an appreciation for what people are going through – and maybe see themselves in others’ stories. When you’re feeling low, it can be so hard to keep moving forwards. But you can do it. Look up, reach out, just keep moving ahead – even in little ways.”
Follow Mark on Facebook and visit his website.