Therapy turns into exhibition for artists

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For what started as therapy for three Nelson artists has led to an exhibition featuring their work.

Phill Sigglekow, Finn Smith and Marina McPherson have all dealt with varying degrees of mental health illness, but art has proven to be a welcome distraction and inspiration for them. Next week, the three Magenta artists will have their work take centre stage at the Creative Lights exhibition at NMIT.

The exhibition is being organised by NMIT arts and media students Petra Malkova and Jess Shirley at the G-Space and will open next Tuesday night, June 9. Magenta Creative Space is an art group for people with mental illness. It meets several times a week in a building at the back of Old St Johns on Hardy St.

Phill Sigglekow was one of the first to use Magenta and he says it’s given him a creative outlet. “My experience in having a mental illness has been helped by painting. When I first started my paintings were very graphic and it showed a lot of pain and suffering, because that’s how I felt. But it’s amazing how it’s actually evolved into what it is now.”

Phill paints superheroes almost exclusively. “I see their powers as uplifting for me and I respect their powers. I’ve found a good niche. I’ve sold quite a few works in my time.”

Like Phill, Marina has also been a part of an exhibition before, but says she’s excited about this latest exhibition. “I did art at college but I didn’t get back into it until I went to Ngawhatu Hospital and I’ve enjoyed it since. My art is about contentment – it’s my middle ground, a place where I’m not high or low. I do it day-to-day to keep well.”

Finn found art after a breakdown. “When I first broke down I felt quite isolated because a lot of my friends had moved overseas, so being able to talk to people online, get to know them and then draw their portraits helped. I got such great feedback that I had people asking me to draw them.”

The three artists are great friends and say everyone is welcome to attend the exhibition. It will be open all day from June 10 to June 12.