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Art and Mental Health

Updated: May 13, 2023

Evidence has shown that the practice of some form of art has been proven to increase positive mental health. The arts have also been found to be effective tools form mindfulness, effective for managing mental health. Now that this has been proven by science, many schools, corrective systems and workplaces have begun to include it in their schedules.

Here we talk to an artist and friend of the gallery to gain more of an insight on how art can help us.

Would you like to introduce yourself ?

"Hello, I am Ani Littical and I own tastymoonsauce. I’m a neurodivergent, disabled artist creating a mixture of streetart, mixed media, digital collages and abstract expressionism pieces. I also sell merchandise as well as art prints and canvasses, both in person and through my web shop."

Can you tell us about your journey in art? When did you discover your interest in art?

"I frequently try new styles for personal growth, so what I produce is quite fluid. As a small child, I adored creating drawings, paintings, and using nature to create scenes and pictures – whether it was sticking leaves and seeds to paper, or building pebble mansions. Now, I lean heavily on the influences of Pollock, Matisse, Magritte, Haring, Blek Le Rat, Dali, and many current street artists from my own generation. I create glorious messes, political pieces, and recently I mastered my art tablet and began creating digital collages and digital abstract expressionism pieces."

How do you think Art has helped you in your journey?

"Coming from a family with a high work ethic, I was pushed from a young age into academia, as I was the first truly academic member of the family, an anomaly it seemed. But whilst I believed I’d be a teacher one day, it was my creative writing and doodling which captivated me, alongside my 24/7 need for music."

Are there any artists that inspire you?

"Music has always featured heavily in my stories, poems and artwork. My music helps me to regulate myself, and heavily influences my mood and productivity. In my late teens, I often drew pictures of my thoughts while I was listening to bands such as The Levellers, VNV Nation, Infected Mushroom. Music can give me really vivid imagery."

What makes you more creative?

"Doodling has always helped me concentrate in lectures, and later in my life its been a comfort and something to keep my hands busy, an autistic stim. It’s calming. Difficult, because I have chronic carpal tunnel syndrome in my hands and fingers. But soothing nonetheless."

What are your ambitions in art? Where do you want to go in your journey?

"I’ve tried to push myself to open stalls over the past two decades, whether its selling the tie-dyed baby and children’s clothes I can make, or selling the odd toys I used to sew. A mixture of anxiety disorder and my physical disabilities (and rampant imposter syndrome!) have always prevented me from doing so. But in 2017 I met some new friends online and discovered the SSOSVA – The Secret Society of Supervillain Artists – and became a part of their art collective. We are a super bunch of artists – street artists, contemporary artists, abstract artists, satirical artists, you name it – and we often raise money, host art galleries and auctions, we boost each other up and support everyone regardless of where they are on their artist journey. Meeting the SSOSVA is when my real journey began.

I knew, from my early twenties, that I’d probably never be a teacher. Not in the conventional sense, at least. I’d been working as a learning support assistant for other autistic and neurodivergent children at secondary education level, but I was struggling with being up and focused so early in the morning five days a week, and didn’t understand why. I didn’t understand many of the non-academic things I was expected to know, whether it was the unwritten rules or the social conventions. I burnt out.

Since then, I have found it incredibly hard to find employment due to my disabilities and neurodivergence; I am also now in a wheelchair. I was due to begin work in another secondary school the same week the covid lockdown first happened, and the job was removed by the time schools reopened in the September. By this point I was already leaning heavily on my artwork to get me through such a stressful time. Things had to change.

Now, I’m the parent of two autistic children and my drive and determination to work and support myself means I also get to spend my working time creating with my children. They rely on art much the same way I myself do. My eldest child is just opening his first web shop like me, with my support. What I am now doing and striving for, is leaving me with an immense sense of achievement and self-worth. My ethics, political leanings and ardent advocacy for any marginalized groups, is first and foremost in my creations. I am teaching my children about what is important, and showing them how much one person can really do, in spite of our hurdles.

My current ambitions are to publish at least one of the books I’ve written (I have a big autobiographical art book to finish) and to be earning enough through my merchandise and art prints, to be fully self-sufficient. I’m unsure if I’ll ever want to open an actual shop, I’d like to see how running stalls makes me feel, first. But I envisage my future being full of happy creativity, happy sales through affordable art ideals, and possibly doing family art workshops to share how amazing it feels to create without rules. There are far too many rules, and it has taken me decades to learn to break them!"

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