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'REALITIES' exhibition launched at the Institute

A new art exhibition highlighting the realities of living with a mental illness is being unveiled at The Institute of Mental Health.

The exhibition 'REALITIES', developed by local artist Rachel Oxley, will be unveiled at the Institute building at the University of Nottingham's Jubilee Campus on Friday 21 November.

The Arts have been a key feature of the Institute building since it opened in 2012. Art can be a therapeutic activity that helps people to tell their story. It can also educate and help to improve personal wellbeing.

Professor Paul Crawford, Director of the Centre for Social Futures at the Institute commented: "We are very proud to be supporting Rachel's exhibition. The Institute is a creative community and it is fitting that service user art has been promoted and will continue to have dedicated space.

The art that has been on display at the Institute has often created debate, it has brought colour and darkness in varied measures, and it shifts and influences the mental spaces of staff and visitors. Rachel's exhibition grounds us in the landscape of living with mental turmoil, and the challenges that face
too many people."

Rachel is a 64 year old mother of three who had a successful career in education until she was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). Since being diagnosed she spent many years in psychiatric services and it was during this time that she was first introduced to drawing. From there she went to local community art classes and then on to University and successfully achieved a Degree and graduated this year after completing a Masters in Fine Art.

'REALITIES' projects the internal psychological experiences of her mental illness into a body of work that communicates with the viewers. Rachel commented: "There is a great deal of stigma attached to mental illness. People are hesitant to discuss the topic and those with mental illness
can feel isolated and often hide their condition from friends, family, work colleagues and employers.

Through my exhibition, I hope to enable the viewer to have a glimpse of my experiences and to encourage people to talk about mental health to those around them."

The Institute has an ongoing calendar of art exhibitions in order to provide a platform for local artists and service users to show their work. The exhibitions are
scheduled around the main summer open exhibition which will be unveiled in May 2015 and will focus on 'Dreams'. More information can be found on
the Institute of Mental Health website - www.institutemh.org.uk.