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It's impossible to walk the streets of New York without referencing a multitude of film and television images. In a fleeting moment of sunshine yellow, Chris Sowe’s gritty landscapes leads to an imaginary space beneath the elevated railway. Here he discovers Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle, a ghost of The French Connection still patrolling the darkest corners of Brooklyn.

Gatleys Head

These images are a response to the need for better communication and understanding of mental illness.

I first met Chris when I was in hospital undergoing electric therapy (ECT) Since then, through our friendship, we have begun a creative collaboration to explain and explore my experience of Paranoid Schizophrenia through Chris’s images.


It’s not easy to explore this illness even when the suffering has ended. The personal wounds are deep and the vulnerability in exposing them cannot be underestimated.


I have always been concerned that the illness has no recognisable wound, if there was a wound then there would also be a recognition of suffering.


I believe that these images come as close as we can get to explaining the full savagery of the illness. What is new for me is the ability it gives me to describe the illness, while remaining relatively detached from the creative act. I do not know the result until after the event. It’s not until later that I can see this visual metaphor of a remembered experience. A sign, as close as we can get to the experience of mental illness, an image that says “This is what it is like”. 


Stephen Gatley

© Chris Sowe 2022 All Rights Reserved

© everyone+everything festival 2022

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