Jennyanne's Bipolar Art Project


Part one has been a HUGE success within Bipolar Groups on facebook! Many people have told me they related to it, felt the words, that it really made a difference to them and one woman told me she watched it at least 20 times on repeat! I also had a few friends of friends telling me on Facebook that it helped them feel a bit less alone! 
PLEASE  ****CLICK HERE****  to listen to PART 2  - I've also had some gorgeous feedback about this one too! 

and NOW  READ below for part 3...

I publicly outed myself.
Then I sat and waited,
Tentatively on a shelf.

But no one batted an eyelid!

No one even cared!

I can't believe I spent a year being so bloody scared!

Life went on as if before,
no one even made a fuss!
I carried on as normal,
occasionally I uttered a cuss!

But why am I so accepted?
Why don't you all think I'm mad?
Then I smiled and hugged myself
 it made me feel so glad!

I'm all out in the open,
and NO one gives a damn!
If I could go back in time
I'd get a grip and hit me with a frying pan!

But here's a word of warning 
I want you all to hear

Internalizing stigma
is what makes people live in fear!

There are other people hiding!
Filling their minds with lies!
That's why I'll wear my bipolar badge
and I'll wear the thing with pride!

For after a year of hiding
 I met a woman who was so bold!
She openly just stated

"I've got bipolar"

 it was a GLORY to behold!

So now I'll be that woman!
And I'll shout it day and night
 so others who were scared like me
 will be brave and take the flight!

The stigma is within you
 the rest of the world is fine!
Come on out and join us
I promise you it is divine!

So thank you all for listening!
For letting me say my piece!
I feel so overjoyed that now
I'm no longer wearing my fleece!

The winter time is over,
a new spring has now sprung
 and from my lips will start to come
a glorious new song!

If you know any others in hiding!
Tell them to command their place!

You are a part of the human race!

So this is just a part of me -
I'm dramatic and that's just the way I am -
and if you do not like me -
well - i couldn't give a damn!

Ill no longer delete my outbursts
I'll no longer live in fear
I'm taking up my space in the world,

I'll no longer hide away
I'll just start to live my life
And take it day by day.

I am a bipolar badass -
this is something in my blood
and on occasionally it just means
- from my eyes will flow a flood!
Jennyanne - 

I am an artist  BUT...

I  also have Bipolar Disorder . 
The idea for this project came to me during an episode of hypomania – like many of my artistic ideas do. This one however – was different. Because – Instead of writing it off as some sort of stupid crazy idea – I recognised its value, and I decided to be brave and follow it through.
So even if it goes nowhere – I can tell myself that well – I took a chance AND I empowered myself along the way.

                                                      so - GO FUND ME to make some fabulous sculptures!!!!

I know I’m asking for donations to make some artwork - but genuinely - I’d really just like to make a difference for others going through what I’ve gone through so if you can’t - don’t worry about it! Just share my poems instead xx 

I have recently been listening to the Guilty Feminist  podcast and the audiobook and I decided to stand up and use my voice (If you have never heard of this - GO AND READ THE BOOK NOW - and then listen to the Podcast - EVERY SINGLE EPISODE!!!).

Anyway, I realised that all of my artworks throughout the years – also had value and that I was no longer going to hide or deny these parts of myself.

Since coming out about my Bipolar Disorder and declaring  to my friends and family that I was going public -  I realised that a huge weight had been lifted.

Since diagnosis in September 2018 - I had been carrying a burden that many others in the Bipolar community carry – we have internalised the stigma surrounding our illness .

Hiding my Bipolar was – completely awful so even if nothing more happens then I get to live authentically – well – I haven’t failed. Full disclosure I do believe = empowerment  – and for that alone I am truly grateful. It doesn't seem half as much as a big deal anymore now I've started saying it out loud!

Over the years I was undiagnosed - I tried literally EVERYTHING to fix myself. I was in and out of therapy, read every self help book under the sun, I even coughed up for the Hoffman Process  - which changed my life in innumerable ways and I'll always feel so thankful for it. Yet, even with all the years of work and personal growth I'd done - I was still experiencing  mood swings that were completely ruining my life! Since my diagnosis in September 2018 - my life has finally made sense and I've been seeing a therapist and well - it took me a long time - but I've come to accept my bipolar disorder, I've made huge changes and now - I'm learning to live as best I can with it!
This go fund me project is going to enable me to make some glorious sculptures all about my experiences of bipolar disorder, and I'll hopefully have an exhibition and I'll be highlighting the things I went through just after I got diagnosed - many of these things are experiences shared by others - I have since learned - when I finally started joining support forums and groups on Facebook. 

EVERYONE who donates – will receive a small artwork as a sign of my upmost gratitude for enabling me to make my biggest dream come true - In order to make a difference!

I’m going to make a series of multiples – small bas reliefs - as a token of my thanks. Stress REALLY triggers my illness - if I raise money to make my artworks - I won't need to do other work as much and I REALLY need to take care of myself in order to stay well - I've spent enough of my life being sick - I'd really like to avoid it again in the future hahaha and I have learned that I can't work more than part time - thankfully my family supports me. 

The following are things that are incredibly important to me and have helped me grow into the person that I am today – despite my bipolar disorder.
SO - If you believe that art has the power to change the world – I urge you to get involved and enable me to create a body of work through which I research living with my condition. These artworks and this project are my way of helping to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.
And even if you DON'T think art has the power to change the world (but it really does) - and you just think I'm a wonderful human being and you would like me to be able to create these artworks, have a little exhibition and get my head around the whole 'bipolar disorder/ incurable mental illness thing' - well - that would be really nice too!
It’s just that I strongly believe this work will have a real potential for raising awareness of what it is like to actually live with bipolar disorder and showing others some shared experience by exploring the common themes and issues we grapple with while coming to terms with and accepting our diagnosis.
We wonder if we will ever be loved, we disclose and are told 'Diagnosis are just for doctors who don't know what they are talking about - here - read this book - its the answer to all of your problems' or "my opinion on the cause of mood disorders is THIS..." "bipolar disorder isn't real", or "yes, but you don't really have it" or "Everyone is a LITTLE bipolar" - Our experience is CONSTANTLY invalidated. People offer their opinions so carelessly and then wonder why we get angry and frustrated! So alongside coming to terms with it ourselves and how we feel about it - we have to navigate this entire landscape of OTHER people's thoughts and feelings too.  It really is true – a lot of the stuff people say to those diagnosed with mental illnesses would NEVER be said to those diagnosed with physical illness and this really needs to end - we'd be so much closer to recovery and acceptance and wellness! 

Guys  - its FINE to have your opinions - but why not just keep them to yourself? What good is going to come from it?
 SO - 
You have the opportunity here to help create some real and lasting change!
Perhaps these works will reach people who are also undiagnosed or confused about who they are and encourage them to seek help.
I lived for 22 years with this illness before I finally got the answers I was looking for – not for want of trying I might add– and that – was a REALLY hard ride! Not only for me however - but also for my family and friends, my ex-partner and the odd gentleman or two who I happened to meet along the way - oops! 
and THEN - because I internalised so much shame around being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder - it took me 9 months before I told the majority of people in my life = literally – that video you just watched – was me telling everyone I know. I lost my voice around this issue  and ask ANYONE I know - I am a BIG user of my voice - pretty much 24/7 – that’s a family trait by the way  - it is NOT due to bipolar disorder hehehe.

Now however - I intend to have a go at becoming an advocate for change. The artworks I will make for this project will probably be a series of sculptures that talk about the things I grieve over, the things I have to make peace with in order to function, the things that repeat and repeat within my mind and the endless conversations that my nearest and dearest have had to deal with over and over and OVER again. 
Potentially this work could reach others who have kept themselves hidden and enable them to become empowered and decide to take up their own space in the world too! 
If any of you are reading this - PLEASE read this sentence over and over again:
So even if this project enables ONE other person with my condition to feel less alone - well - I've done my job! and YOU would have helped me to do that - and isn't that a noble goal!

I call my work in general 'The Art of Vulnerability' - and it’s all about my experience of being a human - I am an autoethnographic artist - I research living my life through my work. 

Though every time a depression would hit – I devalued it, thought it was rubbish and not worth celebrating or even talking about. I once shelved my practice for 5 entire years due to internalizing stigma about my value and its worth.  However now  - since becoming acquainted with the guilty feminist - I realise its value and am proud of my work once again. Feminism tells us that women’s voices matter, sharing our experiences matter – and from now on – I will not give up. I know people connect with my work – and during my most recent depression – I STILL felt this way – this had NEVER happened before for me! I am growing AND I am healing!
Themes within my work so far have included – Aspiration, Emotionality and Conflict (Fairy Tale, 2003), Growth and Aspiration (Love, Lust and Pain, 2006, The I AM Story 2010), Relationships and Love (This Cuckoo Thing, 2007, Tell Me Something About Your First Love 2008-2011), The meaning of Life (Unanswerable Questions, 2006-2008), Perceptions of the Self (Mirror Mirror 2005 and An Intimate Distance, 2008), Mortality and mental health problems (The Tale of Annie Get Your Gun, 2010, A Life Lived Through Lillies 2012), Personal Growth and negative patterns (Mandala, 2018) and Education, vulnerability and empowerment  (An elegy aimed at the arrogant, 2012 & 2018, Reclaiming my Red).
Examples of my work:

ME with 'An Intimate Distance' (Detail). 

This is me pictured with a sculpture I cast from my own body 10 years earlier - these pieces live in The Artworks in Halifax - they are details from the 2008 piece - An Intimate Distance - created by casting 6 womens bodies as a homage to Rosemary Bettertons seminal text AND they grappled with my own and many other womens 'insecurities about our own bodies and the male gaze'.

Reclaiming my Red

 This piece was created and exhibited in Liverpool as part of the Not Just Collective in February 2018, It was about me Reclaiming my SCOUSE Red - and talks about how I 'transform myself in public - like the ladybird does (despite the abject horror it causes to my family - sorry dudes - but a girls got to do what a girls got to do!) and it's about finally coming to terms with and freeing myself from an incident of rape when I was 18 years old. It also took inspiration from Eduardo Galeano's book 'Open Veins of Latin America' - which was about the rape of a continent - See what I did there?? For more information on this piece AND what all of the gemstones are - check out the info on my website.
Here are a few surviving audio recordings of pieces I have made - if you are interested too.
The I AM story  - performed in many a venue including the University of Cambridge AND a conference for social change in Vienna!

 This video is of a performance of 'An Elegy aimed at the Arrogant... Written on a beermat in Manchester after a performance of The I AM story - I was out of my comfort zone, in a place where I didn't feel accepted... MANY of the women in the audience that day emailed me afterwards and told me they identified with my story and that they loved it - however at the time - they too held their voices.
There are a few other bits and bobs on my website  or on soundcloud  and if you're super interested - you can download a copy of my masters thesis - here! 

HOWEVER - I am not just asking for money. I intend to send EVERYONE who donates a small bas relief so DIG DEEP PEOPLE.
And make SURE you come to visit my Exhibition! I’ll hopefully be taking part in one regarding breaking the stigma around mental health during mental health awareness month - May 2020!
These bas reliefs are roughly 10cm by 10cm x 5cm deep and are created by handcarving the various designs drawn by the artist into a clay/wax mould before casting it in plaster and then creating a silicone mould to create multiples within. They will then be cast with strong plaster and ready to hang upon your wall - each item is signed. 
I would like these to be part of the final exhibition before sending them on to people who have supported my project - they will highlight how far reaching this project was able to get and the impact that it has had. 

This is an idea of what a Bas Relief looks like - this one was created by Robert - a young artist who I showed the process to.
IF YOU DONATE £250 or more – you will receive a full day workshop for up to 12 people!

Make your OWN Bas Relief – workshop- get up to 10 other people with you and spend a day with the me - creating your own Bas relief. Learn about the process and how to sketch your ideas, create a mould and take a cast in plaster to take home with you. 
The bas reliefs you will create are roughly 20cm by 20cm x 5cm deep and are created by handcarving the design into a clay mould before casting it in strong plaster and then it will be ready to hang upon your wall - each item is signed - by YOU.
I would like these to be part of the final exhibition if at all possible - so I may ask if we can borrow them for the month of May 2020 - if you agree of course. 
These workshops are for up to 12 people - and can either be hosted in major cities within the uk for an additional cost (room hire) OR - you can just invite me to your office or home for £250.

If you book a workshop - you don't HAVE to keep your design a square (like the jigsaw one above) - I will show you the process and you can be as DARING as you like! And PLEASE don't worry if you THINK you cannot draw - listen to the I AM story - I thought I couldn't draw once too!
So EVEN if you can't afford to donate - and you ain't got a bean - simply SHARING this gofundme page - will make a difference - even if JUST THIS PAGE reaches someone else who is hiding themselves away because they have Bipolar Disorder or some other mental illness and it helps them to feel less alone in a moment of crisis - well – it’s had an impact, I’m happy I outed myself and I'll die happy (NOT that I am planning on dying any time soon however! - Just throwing that out there - for anyone who's concerned! hehehe) 
Much love, Jennyanne XX

PS - I'd LOVE to turn this project into a Phd - Employing feminism as a tool for empowerment: An investigation into ending the stigma surrounding Bipolar Disorder through Art Practice. So - if you're part of a university and you like the sound of this - preferably in Liverpool (I really want to come home!!) PLEASE get in touch and let me know where to apply!!!

Id like for this to be BIGGER than just me in my mums garage working around work so if you know of anywhere I can approach for funding or you're some sort of patron of the arts and feels as passionately about this as I do - PLEASE ALSO get in touch!

WHAT?!?!!? If you don't ask you don't get right?? I like to be the squeaky wheel! :)

:) Take care and THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading all of this! Love always, Jennyanne XXX



  • Emma Gotch 
    • £5 
    • 6 mos
  • Cristina Porro 
    • £30 
    • 7 mos
  • Amanda Hayley 
    • £20 
    • 7 mos
  • Yvonne Driver 
    • £50 
    • 7 mos
  • David Ward 
    • £250 
    • 7 mos


Jennyanne Smith 
Allerton, Yorkshire and the Humber, United Kingdom
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