The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness

The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness is my largest multi-modal project to date, weaving together the worlds of literature, music and visual art in the story of one boy’s journey into mental illness. Through this project I hope that readers and listeners will be offered a visual and auditory experience about beauty and resilience, society and belief, that at its heart expresses hope for a greater understanding and embracing of difference.

The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness is a work for adults/young adults containing 74 artworks and a 50 minute musical work and is published by One Tentacle Publishing.

The narrative unfolds around the metaphor of a tree, growing within the boy, whose flower is ecstasy and whose fruit is sadness. 

This multi-faceted work is inspired by my own lived experiences with bipolar disorder. I have been hospitalised on numerous occasions in mental health facilities and having personally experienced the prejudices and challenges that come from suffering a mental illness, I wanted to offer a sensory insight through words, music and images into the experiences of those who suffer from such debilitating illnesses, particularly psychosis.

My hope is that this work helps further the discussion around mental illness and the challenges that those who suffer must face everyday.

Oil painting of a bird flying out from a city by artist Matt Ottley