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Blog - Yvonne J Foster

Transition, Reflection and Storytelling


It seems that I have been in a period of transition and reflection. My most recent exhibition Drawing Insight at Pallant House Gallery has finished.

Being part of a collaborative project with it’s fair share of ups and downs, has left me with many questions. What do I do and why? is one that keeps appearing and it’s a question that I haven’t had an answer to.

The Drawing Insight project is a culmination of work created between October 2016 and March 2017 by an Outside In artist (myself) and two alumni artists from the MA at Chichester University.

From the very beginning we talked openly about mental health and suicide. All three of us had unique stories of difficult times in our lives and wondered if it would be obvious to the outsider which one of us was dealing with it as a disability. We began to explore what it was to have shared human experiences and deal with grief and loss.

Handwritten notebook

Back in 2013, not long after my breakdown, I was the keynote speaker at an event for World Suicide Prevention Day in Brighton. I stood up in front a room full of people and told my story.

But why? My answer was always “…because I was asked to.”

I think I have a clearer understanding now. I’m a storyteller. I’ve found a purpose to what I do and a way of getting joy out of life. It’s not just making and creating that fires and inspires me, it’s finding the story in whatever I’m doing and expressing it visually.

The most important piece of work I created during the Drawing Insight project was put together during the last few weeks. ‘Drawing Insight: The Narrative’ is a visual representation of what happened and how I felt during the collaborative process. It is a pictorial diary of key events.

Having mental health issues, I have so often found myself misunderstood. Trying to explain why I’m behaving in an unexpected way, whilst simultaneously dealing with invisible past traumas is nigh on impossible. Being calm and centred enough to explain it in words takes a long time but drawing a picture or visually telling a story is quicker, easier and far more powerful.

You can see more images of ‘Drawing Insight: The Narrative’ on Instagram.


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