Project Ability is proud to support the artistic talent of Alan Straiton, as part of the 20I7 Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.
Straiton has shown great determination and strength in the development of his artistic practice, despite many life challenges and periods of mental instability. He still focuses mainly on painting but regularly explores photography, collage and print-making, as well as some writing. He is an active member of the studios, taking part in various workshops as well as our fortnightly Walking Group. His thoughtfully composed, often abstract paintings evidence the intellect, understanding and respect Alan has for the contemporary art world.
His work investigates topical issues, seen in the title of his painting ‘Brexit’, and also the integration of technologies into domestic and intimate settings, as is portrayed in ‘Contemporary Couple’. His paintings embody and embrace paint. Straiton uses his artistic practice as a medium to keep him grounded whilst allowing him to express his concerns and appreciation of the complexities – and mysteries- of the human psyche.
Alan Straiton was born in August 1962, in Hamilton Lanarkshire. In his early teens he received a Kodak Compact and with this camera he took great delight in recording his sister’s wedding. Later he purchased for himself a Pentax K1000, a manual ‘student camera’, and still uses it to the present day. Photography and film opened a doorway into the arts which would later be viewed by the artist as a saviour, helping to keep his mind active and healthy.
By the end of the 90’s, Straiton had discovered painting. It was also around this time that he suffered a substantial mental health crisis which left him homeless. Straiton found himself in a state of mental instability and uncertainty and was admitted into hospital. Shortly after his admittance the Consultant Psychiatrist recognised Straiton’s artistic tendencies and referred him to an art therapist.
“Wow, what a thing the Art Room became. The art facilitator was nervy at that time, as I had a thing about banging paintings off the table. Looking back I realise how unwell I was then.”
Leaving hospital in ’98, after a long intensive visit, Straiton found himself living in a new flat and decided to have some professional art tutelage. He attended the University of Strathclyde’s Adult and Continuing Education Department where he did many different courses (with a focus on life drawing) and received a Certificate In Applied Art.
“From 2000 to 2010 I became a revolving door patient (in and out of hospital). The Community Psychiatric Nurse at this time asked if I would like a referral to an arts organisation, Project Ability. I said I sure would. And I found myself one fortunate man, to become an artist within the studios of Project Ability’s ReConnect programme – A life saver”
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Project Ability, Gallery II, 103 Trongate, Glasgow, G1 5HD