Suddenly Something Really Interesting

Last night news trickled through on Twitter that Robin Williams had died, apparently from suicide. He’d had problems throughout his life with drink and drugs, and was battling depression.

News of his death hit me like a truck – I’m not one to get sentimental or attached to celebrities, but it suddenly became apparent what a void was left in the world.

But also, with all of the links to his best moments, and folk remembering their favourite films, a huge amount of people started talking about depression. It was quite something, to see my entire feed comprised of people saying “Get help!”, “Talk about it!” and such.

While it’s not that easy most of the time, at least people were talking. And folk, including me, started talking to each other about their experiences of depression. A Facebook friend this morning came out as having struggled with it for years, and I recognised the sense of a burden lifted. In 2012, I started on Citalopram, a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). I also started CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), and embarked on a journey to try and get control of my anxiety and depression.

I decided to use art to help me through it, and started a webcomic called ‘Suddenly Something Really Interesting’, or SSRI 🙂 It helped me to get stuff off my chest, but what really helped was the huge amount of people who got in touch to say that they felt the same. A huge number of whom were also creative people. I even did a series of Guest Posts, where cartoonists and comic creators I knew did a strip of their own, outlining their own experiences.

It was a really great thing, but like all things like this, came to a sputtering end once I started to “feel better”. And when the depression returned, I was in a different place, loaded down with work, and not in the mood to go back to SSRI.

While I’m not currently intending to start it up again (although I might do a couple of update strips), I wanted to share the comic with people who might not have seen it first time round.

It’s scrappy, it was designed so that I could bust the strips out as quickly as I had the idea, and while I’ve been tempted to go back and redraw them, I think they stand more for where I was at the time than as any kind of artistic statement.

So if you’re interested, ‘Suddenly Something Really Interesting’ has its own WordPress blog, a blog that has had over 16,000 views and 63 followers, all of whom I feel guilty about because my most recent posts have all been me trying to pimp my other work… 

It’s here: http://suddenlysomethingreallyinteresting.com/

The best way to read it is to use the menu links at the top. They’re separated by year, and in ascending chronological order, so you can start at the beginning and work your way through until you get bored…

And if you’d like to, feel free to get in touch and let me know what you think.

Rotarot

Poster of Rotarot exhibition

In November 2013, following the final exhibition of Cosmic Designs’ ‘I Am Art’ project, I unveiled my first solo show at The Virginia Gallery, ‘Rotarot’.

 

N.B. This post contains artistic nudity. Read on at your own risk! 

Here’s the original blurb: A brand new exhibition of work by Garry Mac. All 22 cards of the Major Arcana of the Tarot, reimagined as an autobiographical journey of awakening, through growth, creativity, mental health and sexuality.

00 Ass

01 Will 02 Intuition 03 Creation

As an artist with a deep interest in all things occult and magic-related, I’ve been exploring the Tarot for years. I personally don’t see it as useful for “fortune-telling” of the kind we see at fayres, phonelines etc, but instead as a proper tool for divination. You’ll notice that there’s some debate on that Wiki page about the legitimacy of divination, which is often mistaken for that fortune-telling I mentioned. So how do I see it?

04 Oppression 05 Knowledge 06 Outercourse

 

I see divination as a complex mix of psychology, inspiration and synchronicity. I think that divination works best when practised by the questioner themselves, so there’s no room for charlatanry or confusion, but it does (and has, superbly, in my experience) worked with other people. I don’t like the supernatural or paranormal explanations of how it works – I believe that magic itself is nothing more than straddling the strange line between art and science, where inspiration lives. It’s that space, the liminal place, that gives rise to leaps of logic and an ability to “connect-the-dots” that often reveals truths that are difficult to see in the cold, rational light of day.

07 Belligerence 08 Constraint 09 Quarantine

 

Anyway, whether or not you believe in the legitimacy of tarot as divination or not, often the cards themselves provide a wealth of artistic and spiritual inspiration. I’m particularly fond of Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Deck, painted by Lady Frieda Harris. These images are an explosion of the scientific and artistic into a symbol system that still clung to medieval imagery that was trite and outdated to many modern readers.

10 Hallucination 11 Comedown 12 Immolation

 

So when I was deciding on a theme and medium for a solo show, I decided that I wanted to do my own version of the major arcana – the main symbolic cards in the deck that express archetypal concepts and pure, universal ideas.

13 Annihilation 14 Restraint 15 Bondage

 

I also wanted it to be modern, and to walk the line between personal and universal. So in the end, I came up with a semi-autobiographical series of images that charted my journey from childhood to adulthood, taking in my awareness of my artistic inspiration, my spiritual growth, my struggles with mental health and my acceptance of myself as being a queer man.

16 Realisation 17 Inspiration 18 Rumination

I spent the majority of my research time on this finding ways to create new cards that still related to the original ones – that the correspondences allowed anyone aware of the original cards to at least make the leaps required to understand these – while still allowing the new viewer to make their own connections and correspondences.

19 Consciousness 20 Remedy 21 Integration

 

 

This ended up being one of the most personal artistic projects I’ve ever undertaken. Not only was it liberating to explore my own past through the creation of the images, finding a massive sense of closure in the process, but the act of publicly showing the work in a solo exhibition forced me out of my own comfort zone. It’s made me bolder, and more keen to get my work out there.

Rotarot is over, and I’ve moved onto other things, but I’m still considering collecting it together as a book, with notes and thoughts on the meanings and creation of the cards. So many people who came to the launch night and to the gallery afterwards were really interested in the cards and their meanings. I also realised that I’d quite like to come back to the tarot over the years, and tackle them from different perspectives.

I’m loathe to go into the deeper meanings of each card publicly at this point, but the image below contains a sentence for each card that relates to its deeper meanings. If you’re interested to know more about the meanings contained within, feel free to message me and I’d be happy to talk about them in more detail.

Rotarot Phrases

 

Pride House Logo

Pride House 2014

Pride House Logo

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pride_House

The link above will take you to the Wikipedia page for Pride House, while the following link takes you to the website for Pride House Glasgow 2014, as run by Leap Sports.

http://pridehouseglasgow.co.uk/

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Back in May, Lucy Holmes-Elliot, one of the founders of the fantastic Lock Up Your Daughters and recipient of the 2013 LGBT History Month Cultural Commission, in which she completed a project called ‘Queer Window’, was contacted by Leap Sports to deliver an arts project as part of the Culture strand of the Commonwealth Games.

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As this year’s recipient of a commission, I was also contacted, and we discussed the possibility of Lucy re-showing her ‘Queer Window’ work, and me showing work-in-progress of ‘In My Day’, the then-tentative-title of my commission.

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We decided instead to step out of both our comfort zones, but to bolster each other by working together. We proposed a residency called ‘Gameface’ – a live art project in which we would talk to and photograph visitors to Pride House, before digitally sketching them and painting portraits directly onto the wall.

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Both of us were used to working in a quite detailed and controlled way, so we instead decided to paint quick, temporary Fauvist style portraits that we would paint directly over. Going against our natural tendencies was terrifying but in the end incredibly liberating. We got to talk to many wonderful people, and painted around six portraits that formed a backdrop to the main stage area. And we met a host of politicians, including the First Minister Alex Salmond, Deputy PM Nick Clegg and Labour’s Margaret Curran, who all seemed genuinely interested in the work Pride House was doing and Lucy and I’s residency.

Pride House 2014 was a fantastic venue and project, and it’s a testament to Leap Sports’ work, along with that of the staff and volunteers, that it has sparked renewed interested in an LGBT Centre in Glasgow as a space where people can relax, take part in activities, get information and be part of the community. I’m really grateful to have been part of it!

Scroll down to see more of our work – click to embiggen!

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Well hello there

This is a brand new blog acting as a container for all my art stuffs, hence the typical generic “first post”. Expect to see my comic work, bits and pieces of writing, works-in-progress, how-tos, general thoughts, pin ups, painting, animations and whatever else I decide to share with the big wide world.

Freak Out Squares issue 2 page 1

Preview page of Freak Out Squares Issue 2, written by Harry French.