elizabeth turnbull
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Visions and Rainbows


Special message from Elizabeth… September 2014


It is only of recent times that I have realized how long ago it is that I've suffered from depression, without knowing what it was — even the word for it. A life full of fears and phobias that I kept to myself (still do), but which I marched at quite fiercely in my own quiet way.  Trying not to let them rule my life. But finally, without knowing the names then, I had what I call an 'almost breakdown' and a 'nearly life attempt' (the word is suicide) without knowing that was what it was.  A silent  cry for help.  After that I realised I had to do something, to help myself.  I had felt I'd nothing inside myself, for myself — I'd given all my strength to 'being there' for my family.

Art came to me as something I could only do myself — I didn't know anything about it, or the art world.  As time went by I came to feel that, in doing my art I was putting some sort of energy out into the world; and later still, that what I was saying in my art and writing may help others' sufferings in some way.


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When I walked in the door of the exhibition Outsiders at London's Hayward Gallery in 1979 I immediately felt "This is home!"  I had always felt outside of the art world I knew.

Since talking to the sympathetic curators at The Dax Centre about my art, to help in their selection of work I am donating to their collection, I have begun to see other deeper meanings to a few works (profound for me).  This doesn't surprise me now — I have, right from the beginning, been aware of 'something other' inside — but I have to wait for it.  I know it as Self (or Inner Being that knows all, but must become aware in oneself).


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In 1981 at the Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland I was profoundly affected on seeing upstairs a small, waist-high glass cabinet.  In this cabinet were two small pieces of torn paper, on each just three pencil strokes! This opened in me the ecstatic realization of how strong the creative need to express oneself is.  This poor, disadvantaged man made his marks — they had such grace for me and I've never forgotten them.

Just recently I've come across a custom of the Kalahari Bushmen.  When one man is travelling away, another will stand watching him until he is out of sight.  This man keeps looking for the other to return; as the figure gets closer the watching man says "I see you!".  The other answers "I'm here!"

To me, this what the the man with his three pencil strokes is saying… "I'm here!" 

As all of us — "I'm here!"

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Much of what follows in the telling of my artistic journey was written years ago, before I was brave enough to 'come out' to the fierceness of my depression.











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