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Art Exhibition Raises Mental Health Awareness

A mother’s painful and poignant path through grief to acceptance following the loss of her daughter is explored in a new art exhibition opening next week at Newcastle’s Brampton Museum.

‘On the Edge and In Between – A journey towards acceptance and healing’ features the ceramic sculptures and photography of North Staffordshire-based artist Ieva Alskne, whose 22-year-old daughter Evie took her own life.

Evie had been suffering from borderline personality disorder, and the devastating effect of her death, in turn, led to Ieva being admitted to hospital and battling mental health issues herself.

Whilst in hospital, Ieva ran pottery classes for staff and patients, and channelled her grief into her own work; her  two-month Brampton Museum exhibition – the launch of which coincides with national Mental Health Awareness Week* – is designed to draw attention to mental health issues in young people.

“There is no preparation, guidelines or instruction book on how to process and deal with such a tragedy and we must find our own path of acceptance and deal with it in our own way,” said Ieva, of Sneyd Green, Stoke-on-Trent.

“It’s easy to head towards self-destruction, lose hope and simply give up – I constantly fight the overwhelming anxiety that sweeps over me like an unwanted visitor, but I fight on, focus on my art as and when my mind allows me and hopefully fight each day towards understanding of both the loss of my daughter and my own sense of worth.

“One of my therapists encouraged me to express what I feel, and not to feel guilt about not making ‘uplifting and happy’ art. So my current body of work might not be pretty or technically perfect, but it is an honest display of raw emotion…”

Bev Jennings, Visual Arts Officer at the Borough Council, added: “With Princes William and Harry recently opening up to publicly discuss their own mental health experiences, the theme and aims of Ieva’s exhibition are very timely.

“It will almost certainly be extremely challenging viewing for many visitors, but if it raises awareness of what is an extremely important issue, then it will have been a success.” Ieva’s sculptures and photographs can be viewed in ‘On the Edge and In Between’ at the Brampton Museum from 8 May-11 July.