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Hanging on to Moments of Optimism and Clarity

Ian Mckay explores the fragility of life in this new work. He’s interested in how our state of mind can falter when we’re faced with mental ill health.


Although not a sufferer himself – but close to others who have – his nine paintings examine what he imagines it feels like when life becomes a circus of hopeless despair, the light disappears, we become disengaged, slipping away from the familiar, or when unwelcome ‘mad shadows’ appear.


Using his own life studies of the human figure and incorporating found imagery, the work has been influenced by the fashion editor Sally Brampton’s memoir ‘Shoot the Damn Dog’ in which she describes her own depression as, ‘the monster at the throat pulling tight around the neck’.


Mckay hopes this work will further add to people’s understanding of mental illness and notes that although each painting focuses on a figure enclosed in a vacuum of space, there’s also a passage of hope.

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