“Are you ok?”: Gary James McQueen
Despite a vast improvement over the last few decades, mental health is still a huge taboo in our society, and many people are afraid to speak out about their own mental health problems for the fear of being judged.
For Gary James McQueen, these issues are incredibly personal – his uncle, the late visionary Alexander McQueen, tragically lost his life to the struggle against depression and anxiety, and Gary also deals with his own mental health issues.
For the loved ones of a person suffering with their mental health, it can be difficult to connect with them, for a number of reasons. Gary has produced a range of greeting cards for Thortful.com, which you might send to a friend to demonstrate you are there for them in a very simple way. Speaking to OX Magazine’s Jack Rayner, Gary explained his inspiration behind the cards further.
“The story as a whole is this idea of recycling creative energy. It’s about taking Lee [Alexander]’s love and everything that inspired him, and creating this collection dedicated to him. The collection is broken down into three stories: life, death and rebirth. For me that really sums up the life cycle of creative energy.
“The ‘life’ part of the story evokes Lee’s love of birds and the vibrant modernist palette, and the ‘death’ part is a nod to the Victorian era, the ivory trade, and the effect that had on endangered species – something that was very close to Lee’s heart. As for the ‘rebirth’ part, I see the creative spirit as the feminine spirit in all of us, so in this case it’s represented by these bodies floating through the void: being reborn.
“When I create art I step away from reality for a while, and I think that’s quite relevant to those who are suffering from depression. Just looking at art can take you away for a while and allow you to forget about things. Also, mental illness can be quite hard to talk about, and it’s even harder for the one suffering because they might have a lot of guilt – I’ve suffered with it and I certainly felt a lot of guilt to the people around me. You don’t want to ‘bring people down’ with you, as illogical as that sounds. At the same time, it’s hard for the people around you because you can seem quite isolated and hard to communicate with when you’re suffering. So, I thought of these cards just as a way of letting someone know that you’re thinking of them.
“For me it’s been a way of exorcising my demons as well. As an artist I get driven crazy by ideas anyway so to get them out there for people to see is really beneficial.”
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