A Quick Chat with Ian Judson Ahead of his Exhibition, 'Migrant Journey, Border Control'.

Before each exhibition, I really like to meet with the artist to find out a bit about them, what inspires them and how their exhibition came about.

Ian Judson of Killamarsh Arts and Minds is a regular face at West Studios with his work within the community and bringing us items to sell in our Gallery Shop. It has been fascinating but also humbling to find out more about his incredible journey of self-discovery and struggles with his own mental health.

For more information on the exhibition,  click here .

For more information on the exhibition, click here.

Hello Ian! Could you tell us the name of your exhibition?

Migrant Journey, Border Control.

What materials have you used to create the work in the exhibition?

Material used- Plywood sheeting, mount board sheets, oil pastels, permanent felt tips, highlighters, acrylic paints, chalk, photo copied photos from previous works for backgrounds, architect plans, copying machine for A1 black and white images. Sculptors- recycled materials e.g. cardboard, paper, plaster etc.

What is the theme for the exhibition; what have you taken inspiration from to create this exhibition?

The theme for the exhibition is to look into the simplicity of the images to find your own thoughts and story; to feel the pain, the journey risking their lives, the unexpected, suffering, lost souls, lost identities to lose family and friends, desperation to find a new home and safety, hope at the border controls and, if accepted, into a new world and life… Is their real journey just about to start?

Being a lost soul and lost identity in my own way within mental illness for many years, wandering and out of sanity and mental health hospital wards. People looking like lost souls, lost identity not wanted by many. I became the same. These lost souls became the most special family I have ever had at the time. Some of us thankfully survived to find some of the wellbeing and recovery. My eyes were opened forever. I now look at life in such a different way hence the voluntary work I now do. The workshop community we now run is so many people’s sanctuary. 

What made you chose West Studios when deciding where you should exhibit your work?

I chose West Studios because in our community wellbeing and art therapy workshop, named Art and Minds, myself and dear friend Barry (a fellow artist with a history of acute depression) supported and helped to run a mental health recovery clinic with Chesterfield NHS Mental Health Occupation Therapists that was based at West Studios for six weeks last year.

When I first took ill having a breakdown 20 years ago, I started my own journey to recovery by being supported by the Hartington Mental Health Wing Art Occupational Therapist to attend the west block art college (now West Studios) on a mature student 2 year access course. Eventually, I did Fine Art Sculpture at Sheffield Hallam Uni. The tutors and staff were brilliant with such caring friendships and they still are. This became the first start of my recovery drive over the future years. To be back and support West Studios is an amazing privilege.

I realise now when developing my art and expressing myself through the teachings at West Studios, it has helped big time in saving my life. I owe Chesterfield Art College so much.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to tell us about?

Yes our community workshop in Killamarsh Art and Minds, has many ongoing projects to support others with mental health, social isolation and loneliness. Our new project, which we have already started, is to encourage our volunteers who enjoy artwork to have exhibitions and selling their works in the West Studio gallery. One volunteer has already started an art foundation course in the main art college.

We try to help build their self-esteem, motivation and confidence, to support them eventually having a possible career in art. We couldn’t do this without West Studios team. If we all work together, care, listen and understand, we all are on the right path. Thankyou.

An example of work from Ian’s imminent exhibition, ‘Migrant Journey, Border Control’.

An example of work from Ian’s imminent exhibition, ‘Migrant Journey, Border Control’.

If you would like to find out more about Ian’s work with Arts & Minds, S41Local magazine has a brilliant article. Find it here.

This exhibition will be on from 8th March until 29th March. We request that visitors call West Studios ahead of viewing to make sure you can have access to all the rooms that the work is displayed in. Our number is (01246)500799 and our email address is hello@weststudios.co.uk