My journey started 30 years ago when a family member suffered with mental health issues and was sectioned under the UK Mental Health Act (1983) and admitted to a psychiatric wing in a hospital.
My name is Garfield and I'm a Conceptual Artist and Social Scientist.
I watched her being medicated & sedated over several weeks to control her behaviour. This was the start for her of a 30 year period in and out of hospital.
This was a truly traumatic & distressing time in her life, but also for me to witness. I quickly realised that medication alone was not the only answer in treating her issues.
Depression, stress, and anxiety, is common to all of us to some degree, learning to manage these situations effectively is not something we are taught at school or university.
I wanted and needed to fix things, but how?? I had no detailed knowledge of what she was experiencing or the science behind it.
So, 30 years ago I embarked on studying & researching to understand the workings of the mind which led me to talking therapies (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic Counselling, and Eriksonian Hypnothetapy) and I became a practitioner.
All throughout this time the conceptual art I was creating became strongly influenced by my research. It soon became clear and obvious to me that in some way my art would play a part in the methodologies I was developing.
Notting Hill Gallery, London 1994
With my knowledge of talking therapies and alongside my family member's long-term psychiatric medication, I was able to help her manage her thoughts & behaviour and live her best life.
During one of our sessions she said that when I was with her and we were talking she felt positive, good, clear & balanced but when she was on her own (often in the evenings and nights) she found it hardest to cope with negative thoughts.
It was then that I created a minimalistic black & white self-portrait (the Symbol) and used it with her with a technique called Positive Anchoring & Positive Triggering.
From that point forward during all of our sessions, when she was talking about feeling good, positive, and balanced, I would 'Anchor' those positive feelings to looking at the symbol.
The Symbol of GAH!
This repeated action of 'Anchoring' her positive feelings to the symbol enabled her to manage her negative thoughts so that when she was on her own and beginning to have these negative thoughts she could mindfully 'Focus on the Symbol, and Listen to her Breath' to 'Trigger' her positive feelings.
For the first time in years she felt like she had some real control of her condition.
Because of this success I started to develop the symbol creating conceptual compositions using several mediums, always with the symbol front and centre. In addition, I researched with scientists, academics and experts to further develop my methodologies which culminated with the creation of 'The Art of GAH!' and 'GAH FreeToBeYou'.
I now focus full time with my art practice so that I can develop multi-sensory creations that will have the ability to connect with all the human senses and become a positive anchor, a positive trigger, and a catalyst in the behaviour change process.
My intention is to create artworks for everyday people that will influence them to positively manage their negative moods and behaviours so they can have the freedom to be happy, be at peace & satisfied, or just have the freedom to be the best they can be.
Special thanks for the guidance and inspiration from your work:
Prof. Stephen Scrivener – Chelsea College of Art & Design – London UK | Prof. Donald A Wilson – Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research – New York USA | Prof. Elizabeth Kuipers – Department of Psychology King’s College London UK | Prof. Maria Larsson – Department of Psychology Stockholm University – Stockholm Sweden | Prof. Paul Bebbington – Department of Mental Health Sciences Univesity College London UK | Prof. Yuri Masaoka – Department of Physiology Showa University – Tokyo Japan | Anne Hilde Vassbø Hagen – Institutt for Psykologisk Rådgivning – Bergen Norway | Sarah McCartney – Mistress of Perfume mastery @4160 Tuesdays – London UK | Callum Langston-Bolt – Les Senteurs – London UK | Sabina Andron – IKWIL Arts Facilitation – London UK.