My Secret Garden: Amanda Weckwerth

“My Secret Garden” is a project that has transformed a retail space in the bustling Northgate Shopping Centre into a multi-media arts installation; giving the public an embodied appreciation of the lived experience of people with mental health and substance use issues. The overall aim of this project is to foster empathy for those who live with mental illness, and challenge stigma by showcasing high-caliber work of artists with gifts. This installation will coincide with CMHA’s Mental Health Awareness Week, May 6th to 12th, and will remain installed until June 2, 2018. Come to the closing reception on June 2nd, 2018:

Inspired by Amanda Weckwerth, this project is her first solo exhibition – following nicely on her commercial success, and two juries’ recognition of her high caliber work. A life-sized cardboard image of lead artist, Amanda Weckwerth, performing “normalcy” will greet passersby at the entrance, inviting them into the space. You, an audience member, will see a raised bed of unruly grass at the centre of the space, and beyond that, projected on the back wall, a video art work – composed of idyllic suburban scenes with occasional ruptures of abstract imagery that is dark and stormy.

A gallery attendant will invite you to trim the grass, with the aim of creating a perfect lawn. But the tools provided will make the exercise virtually impossible. At the same time, you will be immersed in a soundscape simulating internal dialogue, intrusive thoughts, and experiences of social stigma. Hopefully, having a better understanding of the stigma experienced by those living with mental health issues, you will then be invited to write or draw your response to the installation on sticky notes that will be posted on the side walls of the space.