Who is Behind
Hello. My name is Jasmine Powell. I’m an artist, writer, facilitator, therapeutic art coach, and public speaker.
I struggled to express myself creatively for over fifteen years since I completed a bachelor of creative arts at the Victorian College of the Arts/The University of Melbourne in 2003, even though I worked in the arts and my husband is a practicing artist.
I also struggled to step onto my path supporting others through therapeutic art coaching since I completed a master of social work at RMIT in 2013, even though I believe in personal transformation for people who’ve known madness and sought validation to give voice to our lived experience.
What happened? I allowed madness to get in my way.
Madness gave me compelling art material and a passion to help others, but it haunted me.
I needed to take a step back. I needed to quieten things down around me and listen to my inner voice.
I now realise the best use of my mind is to create art based on my experiences of madness and provide therapeutic art coaching to others so they can live the life they want.
I first attempted to make art on my experiences of madness in 2007 after my second hospitalisation. It was in the form of a group exhibition as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. I titled the exhibition Silent Revolution. I exhibited one thousand passport-sized photos in my home on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy, Melbourne. The photos depicted the minutiae of my life over three months. The exhibition was my attempt to shift from horror to sanctuary following my recent plunge into madness. I was interviewed on my local community radio station, Triple R, but I never voiced the impetus for the exhibition to the public.
Then on the brink of yet another crisis, a neighbour I’m fond of encouraged me to study social work. “You learn so much about people,” she said. What ignited me was the idea of being alongside others. Perhaps, I thought, I could legitimise my voice in the mental health sector, and the voice of those I’d shared the psyche ward with. I enrolled in RMIT’s master of social work course. It took me five years to complete, and more crises accompanied the journey.
Whilst I was deferring my social work studies, I worked in the mental health sector as a peer support worker. But I was too traumatised by my own experiences to be effective. I was passionate about ‘healing’ the ‘sick’ mental health system, but I wasn’t self-aware as to how I generated my own madness. I quit my job, completed my social work course, and three days after handing in my last assignment, I gave birth to my son. Yes, I needed to take a step back from my career in mental health and enjoy time off as a mum. But I was ill-prepared for motherhood. When my son was five weeks old, I went mad and became catatonic for the first time in my life.
I disregarded my inner voice to pursue Silent Revolution as an arts and therapeutic coaching business for many years. The reason for my silence all those years? Madness, malaise and melancholy. And motherhood. It’s hard to come out of the closet as a madwoman in a mother’s group or during school drop-off and pick-up.
I did, however, build a self-sustaining lifestyle with my husband, Lachlan, and our son, including a mudbrick cottage and food-producing garden, and our art haven, Sanctum Studio, in Greensborough. I also started a mother’s support group for women who have experienced madness.
I pursued a few creative projects, which you can see on my Projects page. But it wasn’t until 2020, when I received a Banyule City Council Business grant to create this website, that I first publicly linked my art and services with my madness.
I now accept that I have something to share through my art, writing, facilitation, therapeutic art coaching, and public speaking. It does take courage. And I’m still a little bit mad. But this is important to me.