The world is a place of opposites: order and chaos, dark and light, evil and good. A gene neuglin 3 has been suggested to be influential both in creative thought and in depressive illness. The inspiration of many great artists lies in a terrible despair and madness that is in turmoil deep within them. Their creativity being an escape from those depths of despair.

Vincent Van Gogh was a man who fought this battle throughout his life and gave us a new vision of colour and form.

‘A FLOWERING TORMENT’ Dimensions: 95 cm tall x 45 cm wide x 26 cm deep


 Head bent down in absinth stupor,

body racked with physical decay.

Syphilis and malnutrition being the order of the day.

Driven to a madness, frenzy,

by a need to create, to paint.

To prove a worth to those that watch,

yet riddled with a crouching doubt;

that’s hiding in the shadows and surfacing in dreams,

whisperings and mutterings that become his screams.

A drink, a whore, distracting,

keeping him awake.

A brief escape, an interlude from those terrors of the night.

A lament of the lost,

echoes in a shrill from deep within

and the harpies of oblivion screech from the ledges of his mind

stealing all salvation, in surrender, bare repost.

Sanity destroyed, lost in pits of black despair

a worthless, useless, self-conception,

swirling in the vortex behind the mad-man’s stare.

In lucid flashes, through breaking clouds

are cast wild visions wrapped in pure joy.

Whilst on his palette spreading wide

the blood red streaks of sunset sky.

Orange cloaked on landscape,

yellow on the hay.

Red and Orange, Yellow Bright,

his flamed battalions of the light.

From the dark corners of his mind

he unleashed these armies to the fight,

spreading them on canvas wide

with a Necromancer’s touch.

Glorious emotions singing through his brush.

Letting out his hope, his joy

in tumultuous outpourings.

Redefining lights perception

               in a deconstructed paradigm.              

                           Rob T

The poetry looks at two facets of Vincent Van Gogh, the first half delves into the depths of darkness that faced him; how terrible fits of depression possibly associated with a bi polar condition possessed him and took him to the very edge of desperation. These episodes consumed his life and probably played a large part in his incapability to create stable relationships and his father’s disappointment in him. At one point his father was going to have him committed to an asylum.

Finally he retreated to Arles, wherein more stable or less chaotic interludes he continued his painting and his experimentation with the use of colour, creating vibrant compositions that present his unique vision of the world.

The poetry portrays these events as light streaming in; an escape from his dark side; not separate but intimately linked; reflecting his whole character. Recent research indicates a genetic link between creativity and depressive illness so maybe the wonder of his creation is not despite his illness but a consequence of it.

The sculpture seeks to expand this narrative with one side reflecting the periods of darkness; the bright and unsettling colour patches illustrates the torment in his mind; their intrusion into the body of the glass and the border; the way they pervaded his whole existence. The rough formed faces, with coloured glass screams and the words convey the continuing mutterings within his head that undermined his self-worth and haunted him. The stand on this side is a bar table with his name scratched on and stains of absinth glasses that reflect his escape through alcohol and other self-abuse.

The glass reflects the height of his success (at least in terms of the modern world’s money’s worth) but the flash of red in the top corner shows that the spectre of his depressive bouts is ever-present.

The carving on the bright side emulates the skill and beauty of his work; the sunflowers echoing the stained glass are cut into the surface of the wood. The wild screams of his nightmares from the other side become the centres of light of the flowers. These images are reflected in the base of the piece. In the corner there still lurks one of his demons, which is also reflected in the base, they are always there.

Compassion – all of us are challenged at some points during our lives and some are challenged throughout it. Part of compassion for others is about remembering that, in bringing them joy we unburden them and allow the good things to shine through.