Closing my eyes,
seeing emptiness, however endless,
hearing sounds of days already had,
voices of lonely goodbyes.
In cornfields we escaped,
laying in beautiful memories beneath future possibilities,
Time is only relevant to my existence,
numbers, hands, faces – clocks stop.
Pendulous over my metaphorical cliff.
Blue surrounds me,
mist kisses me as tears precipitates,
waves crashing below.
Dreaming takes forever,
passing hours – drifting.
Life tries to wake me with flickers of light,
clasping tightly at the reigns of this delusion.
The breeze carries a scent with it,
brushing my hair against my face,
familiarity sinks into the pit of my stomach,
I know this place.
This residence has no name,
no directions given, or maps written.
Stepping through a cerebral maze,
with the house getting further away.
This world between states,
of mind and power.
My consciousness hesitates,
not wanting to let me go.
Art and Poetry by Charlotte Farhan
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask by filling in this form:
She was thought to be different from an early age,
no one understood her language or seclusion.
Being made to witness their madness on a rampage,
their sadness transparent – was she the intrusion?
When looking up at the stars she could see her home,
the planet she was created on – was so far from here.
Abandoned, dropped in a deep-sea of monochrome,
swimming to the ragged shore – a reluctant sightseer.
A heart larger than most – with beats like a bass drum,
She fights the worlds battles – a leader with forlorn hope.
Her voice soothes you – allowing you to overcome,
Eyes so open they see like the Hubble Telescope,
As an alien she lives amongst us in vibrant blues,
she disguises herself as she waits in purgatory.
Her hope is to free this earth of beliefs disabused,
Your life is fragile – never forget; memento mori.
If you have any questions on my work, if you wish for me to exhibit in your gallery or would like to purchase a piece , please contact me via the form below, thank you.
Just over a year ago I decided to take down all my art for sale on my website and removed my art from galleries. This was not due to not selling work or a moody tantrum, this was in fact thought out over some time, which was needed as my mind was riddled with questions such as “will this sell” and “is this going to be popular with customers and collectors”. The part of me which was now in charge of my creativity was also doing mental spreadsheets and customer surveys.
Now I am not saying this is not a way to sell art, as there are many successful commercial artists who take to art as they would any business. However this is not for me, I am not driven by money and my philosophy is very anti-capitalistic and personally I dislike any art which is made in the hope of selling for obscene amounts of cash.
The arts have been growing more elitist and individualistic since the 20th century, which historian Walter Benjamin called “The Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” The commodity of art and creativity is now a marketable idea and product to be sold on mass, even though the world we live in is in no way accommodating to the life of an artist, unless you are the lucky few (which is mainly white, middle/upper class men) then you can not replicate the same success as any outlet which churns out art prints of generic tastes to be sold at your local department store. Visual art is taken for granted in our world, imagine the world without it? Removing these visuals from our surroundings would be an extreme shock to our senses, yet we do not value it enough. Art becomes a throw away item, something you donate or sell at a carboot sale or even toss in a skip.
My husband and I are by no means rich, we are actually under the living wage by quite a bit in the UK, which is why the pressure arises in me at the idea that the only thing I can do well and do from home due to my disabilities was not going to feed us or house us on a regular basis – making me believe that myself and my art were worthless. Which left me hollow and without purpose, so as with everything in my life, this became a question of survival.
Tackling mental illness, sexual violence, capitalism, war and being an outsider artist in general meant that automatically my work would not be considered commercial or be the kind of art that the general population wish to put in their living rooms. Nonetheless this is not of any concern of mine, as the artist my purpose is to create, the rest is not up to me. Over this year many of my followers and fans have asked to buy my art or asked where my art is on sale, but still I did not give in. The journey was not over as I still could hear the faint voice of capitalism whispering in my ear.
With this in mind the idea of selling art became something which actually started to terrify me, the thought that if I started again the muse would leap from my mind, with nothing left to nourish me. So I continued on my quest for my cathartic creativity. Which is what led me to reexamine my roots in art – the reason I had begun and the reason it had saved me from hurting myself for so many years. I remembered painting and drawing as a child when my world was falling apart around me, with no adults to guide me; my art was a comfort and allowed me to express feeling which my young brain could not process with language. Furthermore art therapy had saved me when I was in psychiatric hospitals or therapy, never did I think of “selling art” at these moments, there were no thoughts just creativity exploding from me in every direction with a “fuck you” attitude to match.
Then I thought of the other experiences with art which had suffocated me and led me to become silent. Such as secondary school when my teacher decided her and I had a “personality clash” and that I was just a disobedient child who would not concentrate on the topics at hand. Which is hard for me for many reasons. In class a blank piece of paper would be set down for me, with an objective given, such as to draw a still life of some sort – my mind could not confine itself to the simple still life set out before me, other things would appear in my vision and these would have to be incorporated, different colours emerged which others did not see. Which is what drove my art teacher mad, she would get so angry at me and I just could not understand? This was my best and favourite subject and my way of communicating but it was shut down and I stopped trying and taking part.
When later in life I decided to go to art college at 17, having only been out of hospital a short while, the intensity of my emotions and coming from an art therapy environment did not merge well within the confines of academic art. This time I had learnt from previous experiences that my voice was too loud or too raw and with the social pressures of adolescents, which made me want to conform so as to be seen as “normal” and not the crazy girl, I simply muted myself and my creative voice. Which meant yet again the teachers found me difficult, leading me to leave after a year.
With this retrospective, the mission was clear and simple; my work needed to come from the place which has been unheard and abandoned for so long. It is not pretty or comfortable, but it is my genuine voice and my message to the world – with the aim of helping others who like me have been pushed down and silenced. During my year off from the headache that is consumerism, my mind was able to redevelop the meaning behind my journey as an artist. It is true that for me the message in my work is far more important to me than if it is “sellable”, which meant that finding my voice was the most important aspect for my exploration thus far.
Now I am ready to sell my work again and put my work back in galleries, Knowing that the selling is a bonus and the galleries allow my art to be seen and my message to heard by more people. There is now no whispers asking me consumerist questions and there is no compromise to my philosophy. Now I am secure with my art and purpose which means my muse has returned.
If you ever find yourself in this predicament as an artist (of any discipline) then I would recommend a similar period of time away from the suffocation that is our capitalist, consumer driven world, find your roots in your work, work towards your purpose and do not compromise this for anything.
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This piece of art represents the cognitive vulnerability of abandonment in early childhood.
The figure is genderless and ageless, almost fetus like, with an adult sized body; however retaining a childlike energy conveyed by the rough scribbles and marks made around the figure.
The colours remain playful, yet remind me of a false sense of safety and the forced love which was present in my visual world as a child.
The coarse oranges, cold blues and gender repressing pinks all mixed in with the greyness of the 1980s.
Reminding me of my plastic toys which were my main source of comfort as well as the adult world I was fully submerged in where I was a plaything, a doll or an inconvenience.
The cold as stone faces became distorted shapes and the words which hurt my childlike naivety (which should not have been heard) felt like tiny knives piercing my thin emotional skin.
This piece of art was created on emotional impulse.
A way to express myself through this period of time where I am exploring my childhood in hope of aiding my recovery and management of my mental illnesses.
A way to raise awareness, to allow for a visual representation to be seen by others.
I know I am not alone in this experience.
I would like to invite you as a reader of this to share any kind of creativity you choose to express yourself through. Contact me or visit my nonprofit Art Saves Lives International and send us a submission and we will share your expressions with others, with the hope of us all using creative outlets to communicate difficult and important subjects.
ART CREATES CHANGE!
ART CAN HEAL!
If you are interested in this artwork for your collection, for an exhibition, charity event or would like to buy a print, please use the form below:
Having any unseen illness is a struggle and for obvious reasons. Some say mental illness is not a physical illness which I strongly disagree with, how can the brain not be physical? Having had severe psychiatric illnesses since the age of 11 would make some assume I would be well adjusted by now or even that I must know my own illness through and through. These are all incorrect assumptions.
The fact is my life has become more of a struggle with age. Being 30 now has made me want to take charge more than ever but to my surprise it is proving far harder than I would have imagined as my younger self. As a young teenager I did not understand and just felt out of place and suicidal. Then as an older adolescent I just became reckless and would put myself in dangerous situations. My twenties became a decade of denial, I did not want medication, therapy, hospitalisation or even to really admit my illnesses to my friends. I drowned my emotions and masked symptoms and behaviours with alcohol and drugs.
However, mental illness does not just disappear in fact it spreads like an infection and causes more illness until the infection is so severe the body crashes and there is no other option but to admit defeat and seek medical attention. This is what happened to me at 28 and has been a uphill struggle since. Although this has made my life more difficult it has not stopped me having a successful marriage and a progressing career.
A detailed list of the unseen illnesses I suffer from
Here is a list of my unseen mental illnesses the definition and severity. The list is done from the most severe to the least. As well as identifying which illness (untreated) led to another.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, warfare, serious injury, or threats of imminent death. The diagnosis may be given when a group of symptoms, such as disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyper-arousal, continue for more than a month after the occurrence of a traumatic event
Borderline Personality Disorder – is a cluster-B personality disorder, is a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image and emotions. Impulsive behaviours, self-injury, experiencing severe mood swings, feelings of emptiness, and intense anger.
Depersonalisation Disorder – is a mental disorder in which the sufferer is affected by persistent or recurrent feelings of depersonalization and derealization. It is classified as a dissociative disorderand an independent neurotic disorder. Feeling disconnected from one’s physicality or body, feeling detached from one’s own thoughts or emotions, feeling as if one is disconnected from reality, and a sense of feeling as if one is dreaming or in a dreamlike state.
Agoraphobia – Anxiety about being places or situations from which escape might be difficult or in which help may not be available in the event of having a panic attack. Situations are avoided or endured with marked distress, many require a carer or companion.
General Anxiety Disorder – is a neurological anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry
Panic Disorder – is an anxiety disordercharacterized by recurring panic attacks. It may also include significant behavioural changes lasting at least a month and of ongoing worry about the implications or concern about having other attacks
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry (obsessions), repetitive behaviours aimed at reducing the associated anxiety (compulsions), or a combination of such obsessions and compulsions.
Diabetes – Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly.This is because the pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin, or not enough insulin, to help glucose enter the body’s cells – or the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – is a condition in which a woman has an imbalance of female sex hormones. This may lead to changes in the menstrual cycle, cysts in the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant, fatigue and chronic pain.
Anorexia Nervosa (Restricting type) – individual does not utilize binge eating nor displays purging behaviour as their main strategy for weight loss. Instead, the individual uses restricting food intake, fasting, diet pills, and/or exercise as a means for losing weight.
Chronic Erythema nodosum – is a type of skin inflammation that is located in a part of the fatty layer of skin. EN results in reddish, painful, tender lumps most commonly located in the front of the legs below the knees. With chronic pain and tightening of the skin.
Depressive Psychosis – refers to a major depressive episode that is accompanied by psychotic symptoms.
With these unseen illnesses it is hard to explain on any given day why I can’t do what I need to do, or why some days I am able to do these said things. As someone who as had these issues longer than not, I am unaware sometimes that people take me at face value and as I appear “well” or “normal” to a certain extent people can often disbelieve if told or just can’t understand as I am not in a straight jacket, rocking in a corner, dribbling or fit into any other misconception or stereotype people have about mental illness.
So this can prove to be very distressing in our world. As a survivor and someone who will not give up, I am left with only one option and that is to share my story, educate and break down these rigid ideas of what mental illness is. Mental illness does not mean you cannot have a life, friends, family and a career. However it does mean you may need to alter your opinions on what social norms you wish to follow or like myself hope to create a diversity in our society that will accommodate us all better. Such as attitudes towards work, money, health care, relationships and appropriate behaviour. These are all areas which may need to be reinvented and philosophised to draw the best conclusion for your life.
You will still be met with certain attitudes and archaic beliefs.
TOP 10 WORST THINGS SAID TO A PERSON WITH MENTAL ILLNESS
“Don’t tell people you have mental health problems, they will not understand.”
” You always seem so happy, confident, well… I can’t believe you have a mental illness.”
” Everyone feels like this sometimes.”
” Why can’t you work in proper job?”
” Stop focusing on the past, negative, bad times…”
” Get over it!”
” You would be fine if you just went out.”
” Your illness is a state of mind.”
” Stop mentioning your illness it brings people down and makes you seem like an attention seeker.”
” I don’t believe in mental illness.”
Living with my unseen illnesses everyday is just a fact of life. I don’t feel bitter or unlucky. All I wish for is that the world would see us and accept us. We are here on this planet and we deserve a voice and consideration. My wish is to stop negative associations with unseen illness, to break down the separation between mental and physical illness, to allow people the freedom to speak of their illnesses in social and work settings without the fear of stigma and unfair treatment.
My unseen world is not unseen because of shame or fear. It is unseen because many choose not to see it. It is unseen because people don’t listen and it is unseen because I gave up explaining. However now I am not giving up, I shall explain and speak up and I shall not hide the truth. This will not change things over night but it will be my change, my contribution. I am a warrioress and my fight has just begun.
A week ago today I was half way through my first solo two day exhibition at NSH Arts in London, Mile End. I was feeling very excited and felt very blessed that the evening before had gone so well and how wonderfully I had been received. My exhibition was organised by Art Saves Lives an organisation which I am a resident artist for in London. The exhibition was my largest yet with 26 paintings.
The Venue – NSH Arts – London
“A classic Georgian House the east end of London, 439 Mile End Road has been refurbished to offer a versatile set of spaces intended for exhibition of 2D and 3D installations, music, theatre and study. The scale is defined by the domestic setting – but the possibilities are dramatic – including opera and indoor/outdoor exhibitions.”
Nick Hugh the director was so helpful and operates his venue and organisation with a relaxed professionalism which is calming for the artist and audience.
“Art Saves Lives is a not-for-profit arts organisation dedicated to providing inspirational and inclusive arts experiences to engage marginalised and underprivileged young artists in the UK. We offer our artists a plethora of multi-media visual arts, performing arts and film opportunities to unleash their artistic potential and transform their lives.”
Mr Dean Stalham – Company Director, organised my exhibition and promoted it. Dean was amazing and I am very grateful for his help and dedication.
Exhibition Poster – created by Art Saves Lives
Here is my exhibition for all those who could not attend and for those who are just finding out about my art. I hope you will feel as if you were there.
Breaking Through During Waking – An Exhibition by Charlotte Farhan
My vision for this exhibition was a collection of my best work which represented my journey so far. From childhood memories, life stories and events, with political and religious comments and parts of my inner self which begged to be exposed and exploded from my mind on to canvas. My work is always reflective and is meant to provoke discussion and to reflect positive energy from colour.
Rainbow Street (Amman) & Amman at Dusk – By Charlotte Farhan
Amman at Dusk – By Charlotte Farhan
Amman, is a city which reminds me of how strong I am and reminds me of the adventure and diversity which exists on our planet. I have faced many fears to visit this amazing city in Jordan where my husband is from. It is a spiritual home where I found an inner peace on my second visit in 2011.
Amman, Rainbow Street – By Charlotte Farhan
“Rainbow Street” is in the historic area of Jabal Amman, Jordan. This is the home of the artistic community located at the heart of Amman’s oldest neighbourhood. An inspirational and energetic vibe is felt here.
PTSD – By Charlotte Farhan
This is a reflective piece. It is painted in a naïve style. This represents the image my inner child would paint to explain the emotions attached to this condition. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe condition that may develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events.
During my exhibition the fabulously talented pianist Fabio Tedde played his music. Fabio’s music set the scene for a relaxed evening. Pleasure for the ears and the eyes was our collaboration.
Here are some videos of Fabio Tedde for you to listen to
The Wonderful singer/songwriter Lánre also sang three amazing songs and the one she picked especially for my exhibition, was this song called “inspiration”
Lánre – Inspiration
Lánre is a beautiful women with true soul which runs deep and pleases the ears with a delightful ease and passion. A rising star who has a long and bright future ahead, watch this space because Lánre is coming!!
We also had inspiring guest speakers and were supported by Community Options with Ian bland, speaking about the organisation and who runs a creativity project for Art Saves Lives called Credo.
The Service User Network (S.U.N) is a group peer support service which helps people cope with personality disorder and emotional/behavioural difficulties.
It aims to help service users feel more supported, less excluded and more empowered. This is achieved through learning new coping strategies, which can help people have fewer crises, and be able to access other services more simply when needed.
S.U.N works alongside mainstream services
Inspiring and informative talks – Thank you
Exhibition Photos – By Mohammed Farhan & Edited By Charlotte Farhan
I hope you have enjoyed my exhibition
Thank you for visiting – your support is gratefully received
If you are interested in my work please visit my website
On Thursday the 25th of July and Friday the 26th of July, this week! I am having my first ever London exhibition and you are invited to attend. It is organised by Art Saves Lives as I am a resident artist of theirs, here is what they said on the invitation “Brilliant young artist Charlotte Farhan is having her first London exhibition showcasing her wonderful talents at the sublime NSH ARTS gallery in MIle End”.
My art is inspired by my inner world. I explore different themes in my work such as Women & Femininity, Religion, Politics and Nature and it’s beauty. I have also started a new collection which I shall be showcasing in this exhibition and it is exploring my mental illness and the mind in general from an art therapy point of view. Plus there is at least one or two from all my previous collections.
Please come to view original visual art at a brilliant venue.
PLEASE SUPPORT! On for two nights only- one not to be missed.
We are supported by Community Options and have two wonderful guest speakers confirmed for the 25th- Ian bland, who runs a creativity project for Art Saves Lives called Credo and Philip Singh, who runs a council funded user led mental health support group… Part of a network of 33 groups in tower hamlets called SUN.
There will also be live music played by The Piano Man himself- Pianist-Composer Fabio Tedde and a Special guest Singer-Songwriter Lánre
This week I have chosen a very special painting which is called Our Tree. This painting is of a time and place which I hold close to my heart. When I was 15 I was admitted to a psychiatric unit at this old Victorian hospital in Epsom, Surrey. You would have to see it to believe it! Maybe due to my state of mind and my age as soon as I arrived at Woodside adolescent Unit, West Park hospital it was as if I had entered a very strange
world, a dream like world.
The grounds were massive, the buildings were mostly derelict and secret gardens and passages had emerged due to the overgrowth of plants and trees surrounding the buildings. It was a gorgeous summer and as my world outside the hospital had ended, the new world inside the grounds of the hospital had only just begun.
Whilst at Woodside, I met a girl called Jenny. Jenny was tall, dark-haired and always wore black and never wore shoes. Jenny did not speak to anyone and seemed so shy and scared I did not know how to approach her, but I knew I had to know this girl.
Jenny and I became very close, she would only speak to me and we developed our own way of communicating when others were around us. The Doctors and Nurses did not like this and thought I was manipulating Jenny, which could not be further from the truth! One beautiful August day, after creative writing therapy Jenny and I decided to make a run for it. We had discussed it many times before and even made little plans and had looked for the best way to do it. So we pretended we were just going to the vending machine and then made a break for it. Behind our ward there were endless fields and trees. We decided to run to the furthest fence, which we knew was the edge of the grounds. In the fence there was a hole which had been previously cut out from the chicken wire, someone had clearly thought of this escape before. So we ducked under and left the hospital grounds.
Almost as if we had entered another dimension or Universe this field looked glorious and almost as if it was all that existed in this alternate celestial space , as if it had been created for us, and only us. An endless field of golden corn. As we walked through the field which was on a hill we reached the highest point and saw a gloriously large field tree on its own, as if no one had discovered it. We decided to go and take some shade
and have a rest under its large arms of luscious leaves listening to that whispering and rustling from the breeze. We sat in the shade for hours, talking, sleeping, day dreaming, hoping that we could hold on to this perfect moment in time, hoping that the realities of why we were here and the cruel world in which we came from, would not reclaim us and that we could stay there forever.
Unfortunately Jenny and I could not stay there forever. Reality claimed us back and the world cruelly gobbled us back up. Jenny never got to leave Woodside properly, several years later after I had left and Jenny had become a day patient, Jenny took her own life one cold bitter day in December. A very large part of myself died that day, I was never angry at Jenny for leaving our world, because I knew she had not left “our world” she had returned to it. Jenny had gone back to the golden field, she was home.
This painting is a representation of that world, I made the scene different by adding the surreal large moon setting in the background, which gives off a very bright white light, and this was to represent the alternate Universe we were in. I made it night-time to symbolise the sadness and loss I feel without Jenny, which is why I choose cold blues instead of vivid greens. I added pink blossom to the tree to express my love and the romance I felt with Jenny. I kept the gold in the corn field to signify the beauty and magic which was felt.
So this painting is in honour of my beautiful Jenny, this was “our tree” I hope you like it and can see what I have tried to do. Please feel free to comment and leave feedback.