Gail Howard is a visual artist based in Cardiff, often engaged with artist and user led collaboration, negotiation and reimagining, the work is site and people responsive, focusing on dialogue, engagement and process. As a long term mental health service user with an autoimmune/chronic pain condition which often necessitates working from her ‘bed studio’, painting and hand making are intrinsic to her practice; current subjects/themes include daytime tv and the mental health ‘experts’ who populate it, the commodification of the wellbeing agenda and the rise of the online support group.
‘Sometimes but not always, my work evolves as a direct result of my own experiences as a psychiatric inpatient, and long term mental health service user; the treatment I received therein, particularly the excessive use of ECT, the disintegration of OT services and the lack of access to meaningful activity for inpatients are all subjects which recur’
Frustrated by the ‘wellbeing’ agenda espoused by the arts in health movement from the perspectives of both a service-user perspective and an artist, Howard’s ongoing Brief History of Healing project seeks to promote the benefits of art and the act of making, particularly in relation to social and institutional care. It is also a means of providing a platform for the patients' voice, putting the patient narrative above the multiple narratives created by layers of social, economic, political and institutional constraints.
Recent exhibitions have included Without Borders Elysium Gallery, Swansea and Rima Rupa Biennale, Yogyakarta, Indonesian Art Institute, both 2021; Oriel Davies, DAC art prize, Ty sy'n Siarad (scream into the void motherf*ckers) 2020, artists & their pets TOMA space, Southend 2020. Previous exhibitions include Births, Deaths and Shuffles, Cardiff Contemporary 2014, Subtweet Retweet - Tweet Me Up Tate Tanks, London 2012 and Mothers & Sons Collins Gallery Glasgow, Whistlers Mother Centenary Festival 2004. In 2018 she set up the Basket Exchange which led to the Brief History of Healing project, a partnership with ArcadeCampfa.
Alongside and as part of her practice Gail is a co founder of Made in Roath and Pam (people’s artist movement) a hyper local Cardiff based organisation that runs festivals, artist residencies and a small library, a studio group and community darkroom.She is the lead artist on the Housecall Outreach Project, working with LINKS Community Mental Health Team, Gail has worked with g39 as a curator for the Tu Fewn commission, specifically in the context of disability and the arts, using the concept of ‘adaptive resilience’ and the social model in relation to arts venues.
The artist was in the following exhibitions: In Retrospect g39 Fellowship FOUR Links :www.gailhoward.net