This year I took a leap of faith to become an artist: a dream I’d harboured for most of my life, but became a distinct possibility when I discovered my passion for eggshell art.
As I’ve built up my social media accounts, I have become increasingly open and comfortable with sharing the things that matter most to me; it’s the first time that I’ve felt able to be authentic online.
For the first time online, I have spoken about mental health, my bipolar diagnosis, and how this connects with my art.
I was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder (type two) in 2018, after nearly 15 years of engaging with mental health services. It took an inpatient stay on a psychosis ward to receive the diagnosis and medication I so badly needed to help stabilise. I’m currently changing medication again, so I’ve turned to my art during a turbulent time to help ground and focus me.
Creating is such a vital part of my self-care, and my creativity is deeply intertwined with both my personality and my bipolar nature. The Japanese world view of wabi sabi inspires both my life and my artwork. It encourages us to discover beauty in those things that are imperfect, transient, or incomplete.
My work with eggshells captures some of my thoughts on living with a mental health condition. The eggshells might be considered broken by some, or indeed waste, but to me the fragile fragments hold infinite possibilities for beauty.
I try very hard to no longer to see myself as broken. Instead I try to remind myself daily that with a lot of care and love from myself and those close to me, I can forge strength and create beauty and goodness in my life.
The Japanese world view of wabi sabi inspires both my life and my artwork. It encourages us to discover beauty in those things that are imperfect, transient, or incomplete.
It’s a mindset that is very much still a work of progress for me, and my art practice is always evolving too, but I find it calming to remind myself that imperfection and fragility can be the most wonderful strengths.
Here’s an illustration of what bipolar disorder can be like (full credit to @crazyheadcomics). It’s not so scary once you understand it a little more. Do keep talking about mental health, challenge stigma, discover your own self care recipe, and thank you for reading. 💕
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Nicola Burton is an Essex artist producing chicken art, egg art, eggshell art, feather art, chicken-themed gifts, unique art gifts, contemporary art for your home, and bespoke commissioned art.