In honour of mental health day last week, we've teamed up with The Connor Brothers and a selection of our artists for a competition to raise funds for CALM; a
charity dedicated to preventing male suicide, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK.
We invited The Connor Brothers' Mike Snelle to write an article on the issue and it's personal significance to him and The Connor Brothers:
Three months ago my brother hanged himself by a dog lead in the annex of my Mum’s house. He was in a coma for five days. When he came around he’d lost four years of memories, and couldn’t make new ones at all. This wasn’t my first encounter with suicide. It wasn’t even my first encounter in the past couple of years. Eighteen months earlier a different sibling attempted to gas himself in the car. We sectioned him and he spent six weeks in a chronically underfunded mental hospital in rural South Wales, allowed out only for my Dad’s funeral.
Perhaps it’s stating the obvious to say I’m from a family with mental health issues. I’ve got them myself. In 2012, not for the first time, I experienced a suicidal depression and ended up being given an emergency referral to a psychiatrist who diagnosed me as bipolar and prescribed me a mixture of anti-psychotics and mood stabilisers which I continue to take to this day. It was during that time I ended up living with James and that’s when The Connor Brothers was born. Born, in fact, out of a conversation about addiction and mental health. When I first met him James was three years in to a serious heroin addiction which almost killed him, and his addicted behaviour continued to cause chaos, damaging both himself and people around him, for years after the surgical implant that which stopped him taking heroin. It’s only recently that he’s come to acknowledge that addiction too is a mental health issue.
In some way or other, mental health issues, either our own or those of people close to us, affect almost everyone, but we don’t talk about it. Not really. Not like we need to. Like many others, I know first hand how damaging suicide can be. It’s a bigger problem than any of us like to acknowledge. Particularly amongst men. Twelve men, all of them someone’s child, father, brother, colleague or friend, kill themselves in the UK every day. That’s eighty four men each week. More men under 45 die by suicide than any other cause. It’s not cancer, or road accidents, or violent deaths that’s the biggest killer of men. It’s depression. But even this is a distortion of the true situation. Twelve men successfully take their own lives every day. There are no statistics for attempted suicides but the number must be countless times higher. There is an unspoken crisis going on. An epidemic of mental illness.
Recently we’ve teamed up with the charity CALM - The Campaign Against Living Miserably - who’s aim is reduce the number of deaths in the UK caused by suicide. They run a help line for those in crisis. They also work tirelessly to reduce the stigma around mental health issues, and to normalise the conversation around them. Because it is normal to struggle sometimes and it’s OK to admit it. Strength and vulnerability, contrary to what society might project, are not mutually exclusive qualities. Part of normalising the conversation is admitting our own mental health issues. It’s not a fun experience but it might be the only way for us as a society to get over the shame that prevents us seeking help. Acknowledging our own struggles might encourage others to admit theirs, and to break the silence that all too often can prove deadly.
CALM recently did a project with Mark Jenkins - an artist both James and I admire. He produced 84 sculptures, each based on actual men who’d taken their own lives, and exhibited them on the top of the ITV Tower. It was a powerful project and turned the numbers, which can feel abstract, into something real. It was an example of what art, at is best, can do.
Hang-Up have invited us, and a number of other artists they work with, to support CALM by donating a piece of art in order to raise money for them. Each of these works will be sold for £84, representing the number of men who take their own lives each week, and will be available by raffle through their instagram page. All of the proceeds will be donated to CALM. We are grateful to both Hang Up and the artists involved for supporting the cause, and for not being fearful of being part of the conversation about mental health.
Every day for the next 6 days we will be posting 2 works on our instagram page, each one donated
by a different Hang-Up artist. The price of each piece will be £84 representing the weekly number of male suicides. Each piece will be sold at this
symbolic price to one of the lucky followers who take part. All proceeds are of course going to aid CALM in its efforts to prevent this issue. What
do you have to do?
Firstly, make sure you are following our instagram and keeping an eye out for works posted daily. For any works you'd like to be in the running for simply:
- Like the post
- Tag 3 friends in the comments
- Share the photo to your story, making sure to tag us @hangupgallery (so we see it!), CALM @thecalmzone, the artist whose work you're sharing and hashtag
- Win a print for just £84!
- The best part? You can enter the running for multiple pieces so no need to choose just one!
After the competition is over one lucky contestant will be chosen for each piece and contacted directly to take it home with them.
Below are the 12 works our amazing artists have kindly donated and the days they will be posted...
Wednesday 17th: Bonnie and Clyde and Oddly Head
Thursday 18th: Maria Rivans and Mark Powell
Friday 19th: Lauren Baker and Johnathan Reiner
Saturday 20th: Rosie Emerson and Joe Webb
Sunday 21st: Darryl DMC McDaniels and Magnus Gjoen
Monday 22nd: Delphine Lebourgeois and The Connor Brothers
A Little More About The Connor Brothers' Work with CALM
Mental health is an important issue to the Connor Brothers, perhaps even central to their practice. The artists have used their platform continuously to
raise awareness on this issue and open a discussion around it, arguably the most vital part of tackling it. They have been working with CALM for some
time now, raising funds for the charity on many occasions. Two weeks ago, at the Other Art Fair, which we had the pleasure of attending, the duo raised
over £20.000 for the charity through their sales of 12 large prints and 84 smaller pieces, numbers that echo the devastating statistics of male suicide.
They also did a number of talks with CALM, discussing mental health, male suicide, masculinity and art as therapy.
Above: Hang-Up attends the Connor Brothers talk at the Hoxton Hotel. From left to right, Martin Robinson, writter of The Book of Man,Simon Gunning,
CEO of CALM and James Golding and Mike Snelle, of The Connor Brothers.
Get ready to like, comment and share away. Good luck to everyone. A massive thank you to Mike Snelle for his piece, the Connor Brothers for introducing
us to CALM and organising the competition with us, all the artist for donating their beautiful pieces and of course CALM for the work they do for
this important cause. For any questions don't hesitate to get in touch through firstname.lastname@example.org
Above: Project 84 by Mark Jenkins