Hello and thank you so much for finding your way to Paint the Town Grey. As this is the first page of the website, you will probably need a quick resume of what on earth Paint the Town Grey is, unless you have been badgered, bullied or blackmailed by Peter Conlin to visit this site.
I have had to live with mental health issues, namely depression, most of my life and basically it sucks, it is also greatly misunderstood by most people.
One thing about mental health issues is that it can be incredibly debilitating, it can be so intense as to virtually make you a zombie (*),. My father, who struggled with depression and anxiety, regularly said that he did not live life he merely existed. I myself have felt that that on many occasions, but I do have periods of incredible motivation. In May 2016 I met an incredibly talent artist at a mental health group. At the end of the session she told me that she had not done any art for three years.
The problem, as it often is with mental health issues, cyclical.
She was too ill to do any work/art
This made her feel miserable, a waste, a drain on society, depressed
As a result she became less likely to do any art.
I decided, there and then, that I wanted to help that lady. I already had my own studio in Thornaby, thanks to the very wonderful and brilliant Navigator North, and I started to think about a similar project but for artists with mental health issues. And so my friends, the idea for Paint the Town Grey was born.
It was spurred on when I became friends with another artist, she had all her art equipment at her home but did not have a clear space to work in. She would look at the equipment and again because of the negative cycle similar to above would become lower and lower in mood and less and less likely to produce any art.
At about the same time, I planned to start writing the ‘Brief history of Smogsville-on-Teas’’. I am embarrassed to say (actually no I’m not) but my intention was to take the urine out of Stockton-on-Tees. I started to research the history of this awful, unexciting, drab, concrete monstrosity, or a town in the North of England, a town that did not even have a decent record shop during much of my teens (records look it up kids) and seemed to have yet another shop go into liquidation every month or two.
I was aware of some of the history, the friction match (John Walker), the Stockton to Darlington Railway and I was impressed, yeah for about a minute. However, when you go into this town’s history fully, you read about the castle, the riots of 1933, the famous people, Ivy Close, Will Hay, Ridley and Tony Scott and you look at pictures of the amazing buildings that used to live on the High Street before the disaster that is the Castle Gate Centre, the Empire Theatre, the Victoria Building, you may suddenly be gripped with a small feeling called ‘pride’
These two aspects combined made me want to start a mini revolution, a resolution in Stockton-on-Tees. To take one of the empty buildings and develop studio space for artists with mental health issues, now wouldn’t that be worth something.