Dale vN Marshall’s latest exhibition – I am not a child – aims to help to raise awareness of mental health in the young, drawing inspiration from his time painting and talking with teenagers in Edinburgh, living with conditions like anxiety, ADHD, autism and circumstantial trauma.
Originally a graffiti artist with the tag 'Vermin’ who spray painted Bristol’s streets, in 1999, Marshall was sectioned into one of Britain's oldest psychiatric hospitals, St Lawrence's in Cornwall.
His graffiti days of expressive freedom and youthful rebellion, alongside his experiences at St Lawrence’s are the inspiration for this collection, alongside his former Welsh studio which was in a former Victorian workhouse, redolent of suffering and poverty.
Marshall’s session with youngsters included Edinburgh-based theatre company, The Acting Scene and performance poet, Jenny Lindsay to stimulate a shared experience, while also raising awareness of mental trauma and honing in on what is affecting youngsters in our current climate.
Feedback from the children were telling, commenting that “we have to play roles in life to get by and I have a lot of thoughts but I’m afraid I’ll be put down” – which highlights the concept of being listened to but not being heard when you are a teenager.
What they chose to reveal about their lives and Marshall’s own experiences comes together to produce a powerful and emotional multi-media feast, with the works involving symbolic language of abstract expression, text and mark-making and the use of materials ranging from needles, threads and acrylic, to wax crayons and watercolours.
The result is a visceral exploration, shining a light on our innermost thoughts and feelings, beyond just language to tell a compelling story, with Marshall determined to ensure cross-generational influence, with the teens inspiring Marshall with their courageousness as he revisited his own trauma and mental breakdown, as Vanesa Brodick from VB Fine Art comments:
“This exhibition is about shared experiences and giving the youngsters a platform to be heard. This body of work will make us stop in our tracks and think about what today’s teenagers might be going through. What came across loud and clear during the time we spent with the youngsters is that they all seemed to feel that they were heard but not listened to and that they were unique. Dale spoke to the group on an equal footing and, in turn, they gave Dale renewed courage to re-visit his darkest moments from his own youth. All of their stories are complex, individual, yet powerfully interwoven.
Dale vN Marshall: I am not a child
Opening Reception: Wednesday 3rd August, 6.30-8.30pm
Exhibition runs from Thursday 4th August – Saturday 3rd September 2016
Scottish Storytelling Centre | 43-45 High Street | EH1 1SR
Lindsay Corr is Marketing and Communications Manager for TRACS, based at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.