Five2Watch: Mental Health

For #Five2Watch this week we've selected five artists who have made work around issues of mental health: Caren Garfen, Joy C Martindale, Carl Rowe, James Paddock and gobscure.

A Bitter Pill, 2017

Caren Garfen

Each hand stitched capsule is filled with the name of a physical symptom associated with eating disorders.

‘Eating disorders linger so long undetected, eroding the body in silence, and then they strike. The secret is out. You’re dying.’ Marya Hornbacher, Wasted, 1999

Caren Garfen

Don't Stop, Keep Going, 2016 - 2018

Joy C Martindale

I can’t think straight – I’m losing it – my head is going to fall off – I can’t do this – I must do this – I’m a lousy mother – I’m tired – I feel dizzy – I need to be quiet – I can’t keep talking, talking, talking – I, I, I. Too many I’s – not enough I. I have to stop –just for a bit – get it together – let everything stop moving – whirling inside me.

How do I help myself get through this?

Whilst making “Don’t Stop, Keep Going”, I have been reflecting on a serious and hard to admit to issue- the tightrope one can feel one is walking as a mother of young children, when exhaustion, sleep deprivation and the need for a break, however short, becomes overwhelming. That's when abnormal notions begin to infiltrate – self doubts and idiotic thoughts that you wouldn’t be having if you could just get a bit more sleep and have a little time alone.

When my children first started school the exhaustion persisted and everything continued to feel like a crazy juggling act. I noticed that when I was very tired I could still work but that my approach was different – it was very much a case of head down and working obsessively on small, singular tasks. At first I thought this might be a problem but then, with this piece, I decided to work with it and channel those sensations of the mind and body short-circuiting, which were countered by the will to persevere, into the work.

Don’t Stop, Keep Going (2016/7/8) Found fabrics, fishing netting, acrylic colour, cotton thread, string, D-shackle, copper ferrules, stainless steel wire rope, long pad eye.

Joy C Martindale

BE, 2021

Carl Rowe

Text painted directly onto wall with screen-printed/painted plywood panels.

BE is a work commissioned by Hospital Rooms for Northside House, a Forensic Mental Health Unit located in Norwich UK.


LOST PERSON, film installation, 2018

James Paddock

After various conversations with mental health professionals, it seems there is a widespread problem in British society today with people suffering from mental illness and social isolation. Since the 1980s, ‘Care in the Community’ has been the primary means of treating physically and mentally disabled people outside of the institution, and within the safety of their own home. However, their entrapment remains unavoidable. Rather be imprisoned within an institution, these individuals are caged within their own homes, closing their curtains and hiding themselves away from the world. These people soon become lost within a culture and society that is otherwise constantly accelerating, ready to turn a blind eye to any obstacle in its path.

‘Lost Person’ is a moving image installation, designed to embody this struggle. The character we are introduced to is screaming out for help, but his words are muted. His voice has been taken away, and our only means of hearing him is through the subtitles that appear silently at the bottom of the screen. His is another lost person.

We hear British sitcom style characters with canned laughter showing a dark side of British society. The film suggests an underlying dislike for the vulnerable in society. Their comedic nature is awkward and uncomfortable to listen to, as if they are there to taunt the man on the screen. We ask, are the voices real or are they a figment of the man’s imagination? Is this juxtaposition of comedy and suffering intended to mock and humiliate? We hear life carrying on outside his window, whilst the character is in isolation. The installation incites us to examine and understand the harsh nature of mental health, as we sit helplessly on the side line.

James Paddock

pillbox outfoxed, 2019


pillbox outfoxed is a critical interrogation of psychiatry using found objects, pillboxes and visual poetry plus sound art. part of our long-term reclaiming languages ov lunacy - a response to the lunacies of psychiatry repeatedly forced on us, giving us heart-attacks, friction burns, broken ribs, homelessnesses, a criminal record & more! 59.4 x 42 cm and 8cm in height

a week of pillboxes containing symbolic items displayed grid-like on a visual poem messing with the words ov psychiatry. fragile tape is also sampled

visuals shown carriageworks leeds, arcadea newcastle, new art gallery walsall (in association with dash)

plus those ov us who have learnt to love our madnesses. sound art

seven days / daze meds-taking - glitches overlayer and a final sung those ov us who have learnt to love our madnesses transcending all

premiered meeting place, perth, arts access australia mar17



Published 21 December 2021