The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is delighted to premiere three new short films on the theme My Normality.

The films, by Jordy Deelight, Jack Webb and Eilidh Morris, are the first three of eight new pieces of work commissioned by SMHAF as part of its 2021 programme. The remaining five My Normality commissions will be showcased throughout the summer. All My Normality commissions will be available to view here.

Two in the Morning, One at Night is a 25-minute film by Edinburgh-based artist Jordy Deelight. Jordy says: “In this film I combine the visual art of drag make up with pill capsules, prescriptions & medical utensils, and a script that looks at the transformative ways that kaftrio changed my cystic fibrosis physically and mirtazapine helped me deal with my mental health and work through past trauma with online therapy. I made the film in collaboration with Mandy Rayner, Glasgow based creative, activist and stand-up comedian, who has worked with the Empowered Woman Project, TEDx, BBC and much more, focusing her work on mental health recovery, intersectional feminism & the decriminalisation of sex workers, and Raelene Goody, an actress and singer based in Gatwick, England, who has worked in film and theatre, as well as an advocate for Cystic Fibrosis and mental health.”

The film explores trauma and suicide. If you are affected by any of the issues explored, you can call the Cystic Fibrosis Trust on 0300 373 1000 or the Samaritans on 116 113.

Vessels is a five-minute film created by spoken word poet Eilidh Morris in collaboration with musician Johnny Threshold, filmed in Dundee and Tayport. Eiildh says: “Being commissioned by SMHAF to create Vessels was an unexpected and meaningful gesture for me. My favourite-cafe-to-write-in had just re-opened, and I found myself there, teary-eyed, watching the theme of this new piece play out in real time - the Normality of daily life and the question of what Normal is. My spoken word poetry has always been a form of expression and reflection, but it was especially cathartic in this instance to translate these feelings onto paper because the “real world” was right there. I turned to analogy as comfort, stories of ships and great voyages manifesting as a way to process the feelings, symptoms and experience of living with mental illness and trauma. It does no good to pretend these things don’t affect me. But I also believe there is a way to exist, even thrive, in a world that feels full of tidal waves.”

 

Like Stone is a seven-minute film by dancer and choreographer Jack Webb, about embracing ‘standing steady like stone’ as a state of normality. Jack says: 'Challenging, stimulating and a pleasure to make, the process of creating Like Stone has been one of simplifying and distillation of ideas, images and movement. It has been a fantastic opportunity to think gently and slowly about how to communicate just enough to the viewer whilst leaving space for their own experience to exist within the film. It has given me a renewed belief in patience, waiting and trust in the power of stillness, space and simplicity in times of chaos.'

The film contains flashing imagery.

Andrew Eaton-Lewis, arts programme officer for the Mental Health Foundation, said: “With this commission we wanted to explore what ‘normality’ means to artists across Scotland, during lockdown in particular but also before and after. Individually and collectively, these first three commissioned pieces are a powerful demonstration of how lockdown can impact on people’s mental health in complex ways depending on what their ‘normality’ was before it began. Eilidh’s film is an evocative expression of anxiety about life going back to ‘normal’. For Jordy, lockdown coincided with the beginning of two courses of medication that were transformative, while Jack’s film encourages us to reflect on some of the things that life in lockdown can teach us, encouraging us, as he puts it, ‘to resist the pull of speed, fear, and productivity’. We expect our five remaining commissions also to portray very different normalities, resulting in a collective portrait of mental health in 2021.”

The other five artists creating My Normality commissions are Bonnie MacRae, Djana Gabrielle, Iona Roberts, Isla Cowan and Nikki Kilburn. Find out more about their creative practice and their work commissioned for this project here.