Artist Bill Hawkins gives us an incredible insight into what it is like to live with mental illness, and how he has found light in art therapy. You can view Bills work, along with a range of other talented artists at The Dax Centre until June 7th.
Oh… why did I say yes to writing a blog post for Sane Australia?
I cannot be bothered! I can barely get out of bed, let alone write something. From the moment I woke up I felt terrible, I wish I was still asleep. Sitting on the cusp of lucidity, half-awake was when the metamorphosis began…
As soon as I became fully conscious I transformed into a cockroach. Commands from a higher being bled into my world, an internal daemon dictating actions to my recently animated corpse.
This spirit screams hideously terrifying things into my ears, tremendously sickening things, absolutely ghastly things like; “Get out of bed”, “Put on clothes”, “Finish that article you have been putting off” and the worst command of all… “Go to work!”.
Yuck. I hate work so much. I usually like my job but when I feel like this, anything outside of my room inspires complete contempt. When I’m in my room it feels like I’m underwater. I feel comfortable because my world is small, and I control it. When I’m in a room full of people the world seems so large and chaotic. The big world dominates me. I think that’s why I like painting.
Ciggies, 2018, acrylic on linen, 138 x 122cm, copyright & courtesy of the artist, Bill Hawkins
When I paint I can see the paint move as it responds to my actions, I command it. My perspective then alters from being very narrow to extremely broad. The paint acts as a portal, carrying me up to a high vantage point where I am able to see my place within the universal order.
From this point I can see that although there is an entity which dominates me, I dominate the paint. There is an ultimate chain of command which passes through me, I realise that I hold as much power as the daemon. Wow, what a great feeling! I think everything is going to be ok now.
Sometimes I think that percolators are actually robotic angels sent to earth from another dimension.
Because at the moment I’m not painting, I’m in my room and I still can’t get out of bed to finish writing this blog post! I just can’t seem to do it; my world has shrunk so quickly that I’m unable to think of anything outside of this room. This is happening much faster than usual, I think I’m in trouble.
The depression has shrunk my perception of time so violently that I can’t see more than five minutes into the future or the past. The signifiers are broken and have thrown away all meaning, I can’t speak.
All hope is lost as I realise that I am stuck in this language-less purgatory where nothing works and there is no way. I would say “Oh well, I guess I’m stuck here forever.” But this place has no language, it hasn’t arrived here yet. All I can do is watch in mourning for a dead language that has never lived.
Morning, 2018, acrylic on linen, 138 x 122cm, copyright & courtesy of the artist, Bill Hawkins
“Have you tried exercise?” my doctor once said. I can slightly move my limbs, but it takes great effort, it’s like the connections between my thoughts and body have become loose. All hope is lost. Then, into my invisible cage there enters from the heavens an external source: that angelic percolator. “Yes! There is percolator, percolator is!”.
It seems onomatopoeic to me as it pierces through the mist and somehow transcends my melancholy. There is purpose now, there is coffee. This robotic angel spits black mead into my half dead lips like a bird feeding its starving chick.
The inanimate gives life to the animate and the touch of aluminium has never felt so warm. My black lips twitch, I can now finish writing.