My Mental Helmet
Vince Laws made My Mental Helmet as a response to a call-out for visual representations of mental health experience. Imagine wearing a crash helmet 24/7. The poem was longer but had to be cut, brutally, as it was being painted, so it would all fit on the helmet.
Vince is HIV+ and deals with fluctuating fatigue, depression, stress and anxiety. He has been protesting the Work Capability Assessment since 2010.
“I want these Work Capability Assessment’s to stop. They are very stressful. It’s like I can’t do anything while in this process, the uncertainty is so great. Will they stop my benefits without warning as they did before? Make me appeal, fill out forms, and jump through hoops that the government itself has accepted are not fit for purpose, especially for those with mental health issues and fluctuating symptoms. It’s very cruel. The process itself traumatises me year on year, again and again. It’s like breaking someone’s leg every year to check they can’t walk. It’s madness. That can’t be right or helpful.”
My Mental Helmet
is safer darker heavier
harder to communicate
here I am alone
insulated from the throng
crying in car parks
round and round
ripples in a goldfish bowl
but you can’t sleep
when you think about it…
|The Norwich Dandies is a group of contemporary artists, poets and performers who first came together at St Margaret’s Church of Art on St Benedict’s Street, Norwich, in May 2010.
This film, ‘Dandifest The Movie’, commissioned by the Dandies, shows the 2014 launch, highlighting the work of Vince Laws, Eloise O’Hare, Christina Sabberton, Ann Nicholls, and Dugald Ferguson.
Within the 6 minute film Vince performs the poem My Mental Helmet.
The film was made by Shelly Telly, aka Michelle Savage.
The next Dandifest is being planned for April/May 2017. firstname.lastname@example.org
“Dandifest brought so many people together to celebrate art, creativity and diversity. Norwich has not had anything like this for a long, time. It made art accessible; not just in terms of physical access, which was acknowledged, but culturally. I saw people walk past and then come back to investigate, amazed at what they saw. St Margaret’s Church of Art is a shrine to those artists who still believe in the community approach of bringing art to everyone.”
Ann Young, Disability Arts Online
“Independent art by people who have the cultural enrichment of society as one of their evident aims is something everyone can get involved in, for their subject matter is us and everyone and their art is about our lives, our dreams and our dressing-up boxes.“
Marcus Dickey Horley, Tate Modern
Alice: Work Capability Assessment
Vince Laws has taken illustrations by John Tenniel, from Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking-Glass And What Alice Found There, and updated them with 21st century speech bubbles. Here, The Walrus & The Carpenter have led the innocent oysters along the beach, with offers of ‘a pleasant walk, a pleasant talk’, only to sit on a rock and eat the lot.
“We must help you all back into work…” says the Walrus.
“Yes! Fill out this form…” says the Carpenter, offering a Work Capability Assessment form.
“Work Capability Assessments are an outrage. How dare healthy wealthy people devise state sanction torture for people with disabilities. This is harassment at the very least, and has led to much increased suffering, and many early deaths, including hundreds of suicides. The DWP and Iain Duncan Smith have done all they can to hide the numbers of people dying, but one day he and others will be in court facing charges and I intend to do everything I can to help bring that about as soon as possible.”
Here’s a section from my soon to be published poetry comic, A Very Queer Nazi Faust, in which Iain Duncan Smith dies on every page….
Thank you Mr Speaker.
I’d like to ask the Prime Minister a question sent to me by Paul.
I’d like to, but Paul is dead. The DWP considered Paul to have such severe mental health problems there was no prospect of Paul being able to work.
Yet Paul was sanctioned, effectively, for not being able to open his own post.
A pile of brown envelopes lay next to Paul’s body and note.
Under this Government, the disabled are labelled the low-hanging-fruit, easy pickings, cut, cut, cut!
This Government knew Paul couldn’t cope, yet people like Paul are dying every day despite report after report after report!
And what are the Right Honourable Members opposite doing about this cruel and criminal sport?
Nothing! Why not?
One can only conclude that the deaths will continue because Death is what this Government wants!
See more disabled people’s art here We’re not Superhuman. We’re human, just like you.