Lorraine Worsley Carter meets artist Dez, otherwise known as Loveartpix, to find out more about his work on display at Manchester Oxford Road station:
How did your artist journey begin?
Dez: “I am a family man born and raised in the city of Manchester, a creative artist, diagnosed with bipolar in my late 20’s and in more recent years autism. I am very strong on breaking the stigma around mental illness, autism and helping others.
“I use art as my own personal therapy and coping strategy daily. I believe that many other people with mental health issues/autism and in general, could also benefit from expressive art and I want to help promote this.
“I started using a free editing app on my phone one day when I was in a state of mania and found it helped me focus on one individual subject. This eventually became a pattern to which I turned to daily and I believe it helps me channel my thoughts into one subject and not go down a rabbit hole of negativity.
“I feel that creating art and editing on my phone has given me a tool which really helps me stabilise my fluctuating moods and gives me something to turn to when this happens.
I am a strong believer in helping others and have helped raise money by donating artwork to many different charities. Through my art donations I have built up many good relationships with different organisations and also become an advocate for the NSPCC”.
I first discovered your work , all related to Manchester and bees, at a Manchester railway station, how did that come about?
Dez: “I am very proud that my Manchester ‘Bees about town’ collection is a permanent fixture on show to the public at Oxford Road train station and I have other artwork throughout the city centre with more to come.
“I can’t remember which piece came first in my Bee collection. I had an idea to promote old buildings or iconic places in Manchester by adding colour and large bees in an abstract style. Obviously, the Bee is a strong Manchester symbol, so I wanted to represent this in an image. I wanted it to reflect the people of Manchester going about their day to day lives through a visual representation.
“Once I created the first image, I thought I was onto something special and decided to create a collection so I could show more of Manchester’s beautifully diverse architecture and history at the same time.
“The picture I named ‘22 Bees’ I created in memory of everybody who lost their lives in the Manchester bombing. The concept of this image came to me instantly and I was manic to get it created. I asked my partner to take me to Manchester so I could get the photograph of the arena and then we came home, and I started to edit it immediately.
“This is one of the pieces I created where I had a clear image of how it would look, whereas a lot of my pictures have a concept, but I like to take an organic approach. I was also honoured to be asked to create a separate image which is now up at Victoria Station as part of the memorial and tribute to the 22 who tragically lost their lives in the Manchester bombing”.
Have you always been interested in art?
Dez: “Art has always been a passion of mine but I’ve only in the past couple of years really taken time and focused on it and realised the positive affect it has on my mental health. I am self-taught which makes my achievements mean so much to me. I have a lot of ideas I want to try but abstract art is what I really love.
“I have come in contact with so many amazing people through my artwork and it has really helped change my life. Although I don’t get out a lot due to my condition, knowing my art is reaching so many places gives me great satisfaction and gives me a real sense of self-worth – especially knowing it helps others.
“With my art it all depends on the mood that I am in what the outcome will be. I like it to feel organic, but I like to put multiple messages and subliminal meanings in a lot of my images. I create a lot of pieces on current topics and try to give a different spin on them. Being a proud Mancunian, a lot of my art is Manchester focused”.
Have you other interests apart as well as your art?
Dez: “Away from art I am strong on self-education and mindfulness. My mental health condition and autism play a strong part in my life, so I try to manage this with positive thinking, structure and patterns.
You refer to yourself as a Poster Boy for Art Therapy, why is that?
Dez: “I feel very blessed to have found art and not only is it my passion it is my lifeline which I use in my daily life to help with my condition.
“I was diagnosed with bipolar well over 10 years ago, just before what I call the ‘bipolar boom’ where it seemed everyone started to receive the diagnosis.
“I was put on all types of meds throughout the years. Every combination you can think of which they can prescribe for bipolar possible. None of these combinations ever worked in stabilising my moods.
“Some combinations I was taking were so strong that I had no quality of life. I would take them in the morning, the affect would kick in around lunch time (where I would become like a zombie and barely be able to function), this would last till I went to sleep at night. Waking up in the morning I would feel groggy take my meds again, then just as the grogginess would ware off, I would be back in the cycle.
“On one occasion this happened in-front of my dad and he said he saw my eyes roll in the back of my head & my whole demeanour change. Obviously, this wasn’t a healthy way of life or existence.
“Years passed by living this way, trialling different medications with all types of side effects. Going to appointments with psychiatrists every couple of months to see how and if the meds was settling.
“I was referred to CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) twice in all these years… The first time was in the early years of my diagnosis and I found it very helpful. The psychiatrist was German I think, and after our first initial hour session I went back, and I felt she had broken my life down quite clearly as I saw it. The sessions were very stressful as you can imagine, talking about past issues and trauma, but I felt we was making progress. These sessions were cut short due to her having to move on. So, I was back to square one.
“So finally, many years later, I had my Autism Assessment around the time I started the Clinical Assessment Treatment therapy (CAT).
“The Autism assessment suggested I showed strong signs of high functioning Autism – something I wasn’t aware of.
“I suggested this to my psychologist who I was seeing for the (CAT), and she strongly agreed and changed her approach to her usual process.
“Due to Covid my therapy went on all through 2020 which really helped me assess my condition. I feel that what I would normally call mania can also be explained as meltdowns which to me makes far more sense. As I never knew much about autism (especially high functioning) it was a big learning curve and I also felt like it was a big piece to the puzzle. The more I learned the more it all made sense and I am surprised it has never been picked up before in all the years of assessments.
“My psychiatrist had already given me the diagnosis of autism to go with my diagnosis of bipolar and recently, I received a call to explain that I have been given a full diagnosis of autism (high functioning) and that I will be referred to a life coach to hopefully give me some coping skills”.
I noticed that on your website, there is a very poignant piece of art showing a man and a clock, what was your reasoning for this?
Dez: “I created the picture of a male silhouette shortly after receiving the news as regards my diagnosis of Autism. I created it one night on my phone. The male represents myself, walking towards the sunset, while the looming numbers of time whirl over me – representing from then till now.
“I have always had an issue and fear of time and it’s power. Time dictates everything I believe – for better or for worse… It is the one thing that is eternal!
“Hoping for good but expecting ups and downs… life’s journey… only time will tell!”
To read Dez’s full blog on mental health and also to see more of his work, including ‘The Male Silhouette’ go to his website.