My name is Jack Haslam I am a learning disabled artist /printmaker living in Islington in London, I am 28 years old.
What is your relationship with your own mind?
I have a very difficult relationship with my own mind, I have psychosis and aspergers syndrome making it difficult for me to work out whats true in my life and what is imaginary, there are two Jacks at work in my mind playing against each other. There are also numerous other people bothering me in my thoughts mostly all day despite the meds.
How do you work with / through your condition?
This has been a blessing and a total curse. A blessing, as its made me hyper creative, with an amazing memory for detail, I am very obsessive so I get a lot done although only when I am well, this has helped me with my carer as an Artist.
How does your mind like to go about creating a piece?
I like to draw animals and there have been times I have been very obsessed with them. Anteaters are my favourites. I also like self portraits. Sometimes I change mediums as my OCD gets in the way of drawing or painting, if the paper is not right or the pencil is too long or two short then I will struggle to produce anything. If this happens I will try sculpture or in the case of my chosen piece of work,”voices my head”, digital embroidery.
What hurdles does your mind present in this process?
When I am creating a piece I have to be careful my OCD does not stop me finishing a crucial piece of the drawing like an eye or an arm or tail. If this happens its very frustrating.
How do you overcome these hurdles?
I overcome these hurdles by having a strict routine with my work desk and pencils, paper etc, sounds, light and my mother pottering (as I work at home ) can really bother me so I need to be quiet. If I make a mistake I will just start again, over and over if necessary.
What has art taught you about your own mind?
Art and my artistic nature and imagination has given me a means of communication with others, and some much needed self esteem. It forms is bridge between myself and the viewer. Sometimes socialising and small talk are very difficult for me as I am socially impaired and find it difficult understanding and communicating. I do have several good friends though who understand me. I can be quite demanding and hard work. The comfort and routine of life calms me and helps me understand how my mind works. People like the art, they praise me and smile. I guess thats good thing.
Please describe your piece, the aims, process, outcomes etc.
The piece of work I have contributed is called Voices In My Head. It’s a digital embroidery and is approx 70x80cms. It appeared in the Shape Open 2018 in London. It really says it all regarding my mental state, I have been struggling with anti -psychotic meds since I was a teenager and I am trying to reduce them as they effect my ability to be creative, however, I have gained some success regardless of my problems. I have been nominated for wildlife artist of the year many times and exhibited in many shows in the Mall gallery and I just had my first one man show in the Attenborough arts centre Leicester.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I hope one day to get off the medication that have made it more difficult to access my creativity due to its sedative effects. In some ways I feel my life has been stolen by my mental illness but I have been given a gift in return and I have to use it. It would also be really nice to be able to appreciate and understand my successes with my art in the real world. At the moment I am working on a film about my relationship with food.
Find Jack here: instagram.com/haslam492/