Smash the silence, release your pain, feed your heart. They’re the powerful words emblazoned above The Southbank to mark the #LostHoursWalk - CALM’s first ever owned event and a chance to bring suicide out of the shadows and deal with grief differently and defiantly.
On October 26th as the clocks go back, almost 1000 people are taking to the streets of London to unite against suicide. We teamed up with CALM supporter, print artist and Instagram legend The Fandangoe Kid (Annie Nicholson) to create a message of hope and positivity around the route’s 8 mile mark.
@fandangoekid has been making loud and vibrant typographical prints that tackle societal stigma, taboo and death since her own personal experience of loss. After losing almost all of her family in an accident, Annie learnt that support services for her and people like her were lacking what she needed.
“I experienced the loss of pretty much my whole family as a young woman, and at that time, there were just no platforms for talking about grief. Death was still very much a taboo subject matter and there were no outlets for me as a younger woman.
“I remember thinking, ‘I actually don't know if I will survive this,’ and I remember thinking to myself, ‘if I do, I'm going to just use this experience to create platforms through my work, which can be useful to other people’."
Annie began creating art work exploring her emotions and relation to the grief that she was experiencing. Since then she’s continued to put grief, death and survival at the forefront of her work.
“I really, really feel there's so much value in opening this subject up. There are so many circumstances in which you can lose people, but all of us will experience death in some way in our lives and making that part of the daily narrative is really essential.
“I went through a period of being really very isolated in my grief, but, I think, by opening up we are able to sort of connect to each other in more ways than we are divided.”
With the Lost Hours Mural, Annie hopes her message of unity and support in the face of grief will help the walkers on the night, as well as the thousands of visitors and passers by that will see it between October and December.
“There's all kinds of loss in the world and I think everyone's experienced it. You can have a breakup, your pet can die, you can experience major trauma; no one's trauma, pain or heartbreak should be overlooked. We'll all battle with our mental health at some point, and every feeling is valid. Hopefully the mural will unite people and show we're all flawed, but there's always someone in the world who loves you”
Appealing to wider audiences, and audiences who may not engage in traditional artistic spaces like galleries and exhibitions, is key to what Annie does. Her frank yet empowering messages are always in public spaces where they’ll be seen by the people who need them most. She’s exhibited across London and the world, always with bold and affirmative messages that help contribute to breaking down barriers and stigma.
“I never exhibit in a gallery space and I have a really strong remit around that. Having worked with young people for years and years, particularly young people in my neighbourhood in Hackney, so many of them have said to me, ‘ we don't feel like we have a place in a gallery we would never go in.’
“My messages around grief, trauma, and traumatic loss, I want them to be in the public realm. I want them to be accessed by the people who need the most. I think hopefully that message will have a bit of a life of its own. That’s the thing with public art. It's not yours. You create it and you unleash it into the world. You do get a real connection, but then you let them go and it feels like they take on a life of their own.”