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Dale Tyler-Lodge

Please share a bit about you and your artistic background. 

 

My name is Dale Tyler-Lodge, I'm 42 and I live in Lincolnshire with my partner Matt, our two dogs and our bearded dragon. I first got into art during the first lockdown as a way of channelling my anxiety and how I was feeling.

 

The type of artist I am - Hmm, that's a hard one to quantify! I guess I'd call myself a mixed media mannequin artist that also does a bit of photography! I started out upcycling discarded mannequins into lamps and homewares, but soon discovered that I would use them as a tool for self expression.

How is your work influenced or informed by mental health?

 

The vast majority of my expressive art is inspired by my own experiences, especially those relating to anxiety or self image. A lot of the pieces have reference to mental health or allude to the things I find stressful. I use my works to express whatever is making me feel trapped, or what feels like it is trapped inside me.

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Dale Tyler-Lodge 

I started using art as an outlet during the first lockdown. I've struggled with anxiety since my teenage years, but the restrictions that suddenly came out of nowhere had a really negative affect on me. As well as that feeling of being caged and restrained, I also struggled to accept a lot of the contradictory information in the media, the division it caused and the illogical nature of a lot of the 'rules'. Also, due to 'socialising' being something that could only be done online, I found myself spending more time on social media. The fakery and falseness of it started to have an even worse affect on my mental health. I had recently acquired five or six broken shop mannequins, so I took one outside on a sunny day and started doodling how I felt on it. It grew from there!

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'Hostage to Vanity'

Do you feel that your creative practices help with your mental health and wellbeing?

 

100%. For anyone experiencing mental health struggles, I would heartily recommend using some form of creative art to express and explore it. Creative practices not only take me out of my own head and give my mind something to focus on, they allow me to almost get hold of what I'm feeling and in a way 'trap' it in a piece of artwork. It makes it feel like a way to remove the emotion from myself and turn it into something separate – an art object that I can then observe and, in a way, admire.

Please talk through one of your pieces with us - perhaps outlining your artistic process and meaning/intention behind the work.


Whilst many of my works allude to mental health, I would have to say that the most important and relevant for me was my installation titled the 'Four Influencers of the Apocalypse'. The piece consists of Famine, War, Pestilence and Death, but with a modern day social media spin. In my take, the 'plagues' they are spreading are the mental health conditions they contribute to causing via their internet 'influence'. Famine's plague is eating disorders. Pestilence brings fear and anxiety. Death spreads poor self-image / self-confidence and War brings depression, division, paranoia and self-doubt.

Incidentally, Death started life as the doodling mannequin I mentioned above! She was the first of the four and was what led to the piece existing. They were completed as a centrepiece to the exhibition I curated and hosted in October 2021 titled 'Unhooked: The Exhibition'.

Can you tell me about some of the previous exhibitions you have been involved in?

 

'Unhooked 21' was, I'm delighted to say, a massive success! It showcased the works of fourteen featured artists, providing them with a platform to raise awareness and understanding of issues surrounding mental health. There was an auction to raise funds for Mind on the opening night, and overall the exhibition raised £2,899. We have already set a date for 'Unhooked: Unlocked 22' - stay tuned!

Any lessons you have learned from your artistic journey and ongoing practice?
 

The main thing I have learned and embraced is not to let people shape your art. It has to come from the heart or it's not going to work. For the first couple of years I tried to make my work 'sellable', worrying about what people would think – especially the owners of the galleries I was exhibiting in.

I was taken to task one day by one of them for having an anarchy symbol in a piece. The lecture made me almost feel dirty and wrong for creating the peice.

It's strange because there are many creatives in the Lincolnshire area, but many still feel they have to fit in a box and not stand out. And to me this is a real shame because art is all about self expression.

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Dale with 'The Four Influencers of the Apocalypse' 

If you lose that, you lose the entire meaning. One of our artists was actually flatly told his work was 'unsellable' because it expressed his struggles and experiences.

 

It can be quite disheartening at times, as it can leave you feeling like there's something wrong with you for wanting to paint and create those things! You have to remind yourself that the simple issue is that people are not used to that, and the only way they will become more used to it is to show them! It can be a mental battle but I'm hoping that with time and effort, things can change.

What's next for you?

 

In addition to 'Unhooked 22', we are very excited to announce that we will be opening our own gallery this Spring! After experiencing the above mentioned feeling of judgement, I spoke to several other artists who all said they'd had the same thing happen to them. Myself and Matt decided that, given that no one else was going to do it, you can't sit there waiting for the day someone else opens 'that' gallery that smashes the narrative. We would make it happen ourselves! Let's face it, Banksy and Co have made a go of not painting watercolours, instead being 'controversial' and expressing their feelings!

Therefore, we will soon be launching the NTKO art gallery in Louth, Lincolnshire. NTKO stands for Not That Kind Of art gallery, which I think sums up our vision perfectly! As well as frequent open calls for artists who don't feel that can exhibit with 'normal' art galleries, we will also be running art as therapy sessions and hosting many awareness / fund raising exhibitions.

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'Big Sister'

Connect with Dale on Instagram.