A lot has happened in 2016 in the world of Haydn Gardner. Unfortunately I started the year in a rather bad depressive period but despite this I was pushing myself to undergo the beginnings of Messy Miscreation. I started the year attending a course to start a business with the Princes Trust. I had a wonderful mentor helping me through the paperwork and all the “businessy” things I needed to learn in order to make it work.
During this time I was creating the starting point of what my practice became this past year as I experimented with perspex sheets and different materials. This is when I began painting which I now have framed and have been to exhibitions. It’s really strange to think that the work I made during this stage in my life has been with me throughout it and still marks a turning point.
In March I attended Autism Con in London selling prints and original paintings where I made my first sale of the year. I sold an original piece I had created only a month before the event and it’s then I realised that I could do this. One of my personal battles is the knowledge that wanting to be an artist holds a certain stigma and unfortunately I do use that against myself sometimes but this was a great combat against those views.
In April I officially started Messy Miscreation as a business and worked towards setting up my online store along with a website. I got prints of my work made and put them out into the world for everyone to see which was a terrifying thing for me.I have always been scared to put my work out there and its one of the things I have overcome to be able to push past that.
The online store has grown over the months and has even shared my view of the world with strangers I have never met. The knowledge I have sent work out to people I have never met is a truly strange one.
It was in Spring where I was officially diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum and I began painting and working with my relationship with autism. My work took a different turn while keeping the same themes and visual elements but the thoughts behind the work had progressed into something entirely new. Unfortunately this diagnosis did bring some negativity because of the sort of person I am. I was experiencing increased anxiety over a lot of different things but the main new problem I had latched onto was my teeth.
The big thing of Summer 2016 that comes to memory is my silly obsession with my teeth, more specifically my fear of them breaking. Damage to the surface of my teeth is something my dentist mentioned many times before but when one of my back teeth broke away he came to the conclusion this was due to grinding. This didn’t go well as I became aware of this and got stressed which in turn made the grinding worse. I created a lot of interesting work during this period of my life including the first sculpture named Dave.
Dave had a mould of my teeth the dentist created for a guard to protect them any further harm. He became a monument of the anxiety I have and how it hold physical effects. In other words it was a play on the expression “it’s all in your head” which is used against people who struggle with mental health.
I also did a project where I became involved with the online twitter community and go them to send me shapes to create work from. This is one of my favourite personal projects from 2016 as it forced me to approach the paintings in a different way making that work have something my previous paintings didn’t.
I ended 2017 with taking my work with me to Comic Con Birmingham 2016 in November which was a challenging experience. I managed to push through the anxiety but it had physical repercussions following the event. I still have fond memories of those two days and enjoyed the experience of meeting people and talking about why I create my work. This was the perfect set up for the following month where I hosted a solo Exhibition with the National Autistic Society.
The exhibition was the highlight of my artistic career in 2016. It was a amazing experience to see a years work before me on a wall in a gallery space. It’s opened up opportunities for the next year which I can talk about really soon but I am really excited to get stuck into the new year and move forward as I have big plans.
2016 was a year for growing and now its time for 2017 to push forwards and find a way to make this work. I think this year will hold great things for me and I will do my very best to get to where I want to be. I also want to take more time to bring awareness to mental health and autism at the same time as it could change peoples lives for the better. I couldn’t have achieved any of this without the support of my family and girlfriend but also everybody out there who goes out of their way to help me progress as a artist. Thank you to all of you.
Bring it on 2017.