VODKA O’CLOCK 1518
NICKY MORTLOCK ON CREATING THROUGH ILLNESS
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NICKY MORTLOCK joins us for the first time to talk about her art program and its special purpose, ARTI PEEPS.
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ArtiPeeps: ‘Nurturing Creativity and Well-being Through Collaboration’
Providing innovative creative opportunities for emerging creatives from all disciplines
Nicky lives with Bipolar Affective Disorder. She founded an online art community, ARTI PEEPS, as a way for her to find creative outlets for her own talents as well as to act as curator for talented people all over the world. Originally, the group was a women’s art group that she put together as part of her own mental health recovery. They are Arts Council funded and have over 40 creatives participating.
She worked for the BBC as a drama script editor and she also has past experience in art management. When she found herself in crisis, she wrote poetry as a way to express herself though she never intended to share it.
“I think it’s very important to realize that there are ebbs and flows in life; and if you accept that, then you can be less hard on yourself when your creativity does diminish. And it’s a sort of going through your life and knowing that it does return, you can gain faith in that very process.” ~Nicky Mortlock
RECOVERY THROUGH ART
I asked Nicky specifically about how poetry helped her overcome obstacles.
“It was a real reflection of my mental state and my mental processes. It was like my very core was pouring out of me and when I came to read it, when I was well, I realized that I couldn’t actually show it to anybody because it was like my psychology on a plate almost.” ~NM
We dove into the subject of insecurity which is something that everyone feels from time to time, of course, but when you’re trying to build something creatively, it can be debilitating.
ARTI PEEPS PROJECTS
Exhibitions, though online, are still curated and have deadlines for when they must be ready to post. There are large scale projects simultaneously with smaller ones like weekend showcases.
At the moment, the Arti Peeps website is being redesigned and will have a forum with memberships. Nicky hopes it won’t take longer than a year to get that built and operating.
The Nine Realms inspired by Norse mythology. Poets have been writing poems about that with a deadline. To help support the Nine Realms project, they launched an IndieGoGo campaign on April 20 for the commissioning costs of a bespoke oak and ash carved viking boat to be carved for the project.
They’re also planning on going on tour to different cities around the world.
CHALLENGES OF MENTAL HEALTH DISABILITIES
Nicky is from England and we discussed what we could about the US and UK guidelines for disabilities acts in terms of getting and keeping jobs. She openly says she needs to be home and within the conditions of her comfort/wellness zone. That not only addresses the location such as working from home, but also includes hours per day which can vary.
Perception of mental illnesses can be a huge hindrance to the average patient. Looking at the sensationalized news stories like the pilot who recently crashed a plane full of 149 other people besides himself. That means everyone else has to try and see vulnerabilities and have compassion, if it’s accurate.
Then there are times when the media, the public, and the politicians need what’s called “the perfect patient.” The perfect patient is someone who has a lot of klout, like a celebrity, and sometimes coupled with a condition that is not in their control like addiction, depression, breast cancer, etc. Which then gives people the presentation of a face and someone to relate to. Sometimes when something like addiction is part of the equation, there’s less sympathy. For example, compare the differences in public reaction to the deathS of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams versus cancer treatments like Angelina Jolie and Roger Ebert.
“It takes a lot of courage to embrace the whole of a person.” ~NM
Nicky often talks about the practice of compassion and mindfulness. She credits her mother with caring for her every day. The thought that there are so many people who don’t have a good support system or even a mediocre one, people that may be homeless or LGBT teens that runaway, it’s all overwhelming. It at least gives a different perspective. I personally end up feeling guilt every single day because I know there are people suffering “more” as if mental health is a competition.
“You need someone there telling you that you’re all right.” ~NM
Often you can hide your mental illness and Nicky says that this behavior can make things challenging in their own way. She calls that version of herself presented to other people “Big Nicky” and what that did was diminish her own achievements. She felt that “Big Nicky” was the one who had accomplished everything.
- The work of Jon Kabat-Zinn
- “MINDFUL COMPASSION: How the Science of Compassion Can Help You Understand Your Emotions, Live in the Present, and Connect Deeply with Others” by Paul Gilbert and Choden
- “DARING GREATLY: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brene Brown
- “MARBLES: MANIA, DEPRESSION, MICHELANGELO AND ME: A GRAPHIC MEMOIR” by Ellen Forney
- “PSYCHIATRIC TALES” by Daryl Cunningham
TIPS FOR WRITERS
I asked Nicky what tips she would give to anyone creating a character with Bipolar Disorder. She said that despite BPD having extremes, she would like to see someone who is battling in the middle and getting by with BPD so it wouldn’t always be an exaggerated version. Her example was the show HOMELAND.