A Wakefield woman who has battled with mental health problems for most of her life has recently had great success with her paintings, being exhibited as far away as Norway!

Pauline Quinnin has suffered from mental health problems including depression, severe post traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety, anorexia, agoraphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder. All very common conditions. Pauline made a choice not to use drugs, and instead turns to creativity to relieve her symptoms.

Pauline began painting when she had finished writing a book, and had never had any formal training in art. She has produced over 700 paintings in the last year, having taken part in the ‘Inspire’ project, an arts and creativity project run by the South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust. Pauline was encouraged to display her work at the World Mental Health Day celebrations.

Speaking about her first exhibition, she said, ‘The exhibition itself gave me mixed feelings, I was kind of embarrassed but thought that if it was helping other people in any small way, and was helping reduce the stigma of mental health problems, then I should just grin and bear it. But now, I am so proud of what I’ve achieved.’

Since then, Pauline has had work exhibited at the Wakefield Arts Mill and at the Art of Oak shop in Wakefield. Her work has also been displayed in Leeds, Hebden Bridge and Cornwall. In December an exhibition is opening in Norway, Pauline commented, ‘It’s an incredible feeling to know that people in another country are going to be looking at my work.’

Pauline continued, ‘I made a choice not to use drugs, but an alternative therapy instead. I don’t see this as mental illness anymore, I see it as creativity inside me that’s trapped and can’t get out. If I’m painting I haven’t got the symptoms captured inside me, as I think symptoms are created out of frustration. But now, it’s like, in forty years, I’ve finally got a chance."

Pauline is taking part in a special event being held at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th December 2003. The events are being held to mark the end of Inspire project, and will showcase the work produced during the project, as well as give people a chance to take part in art, photography and music workshops.


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