Harry x Josh
How can you find resilience and strength when challenged by chronic physical health issues?
Having faced multiple chronic physical health issues since childhood, Harry Iles-Mann has often felt like he’s watching life from the outside. In this vibrant graphic expression, Harry and artist Josh Muir convey a multi-perspectival image of Harry that reflects both his internal and external experience. The work is a whole created by fragments, signifying Harry’s journey towards finding balance and building his own stability, while appreciating the support of those around him.
Harry Iles-Mann (he/him)
For more than two decades I’ve lived with multiple serious chronic physical health issues that restricted what I was able to do growing up. I wasn’t able to be involved with the world around me in the same way that someone who was healthy and my age was able to. I found stability in routine at school, but as soon as I transitioned to adult life at University and moved from the paediatric to adult health system a lot of that routine and stability fell away. Things really hit me and buried me for a while as I tried to deal with it all at once, and on my own. It took support from family and friends, building a relationship with my psychologist, and more consciously building a level of personal resilience to build stability, routine and connection back into my life.
The aspect of my mental health experience that Josh and I focused on was the extent to which I relied on the care of those around me, and the ways that I sought help. The heavy support of my family, whilst also acknowledging my own personal strength, got me through that time.
Josh Muir (he/him)
Harry and I got together, sat down and spoke about what he wanted to capture in his expression. He spoke about the components and what they meant to him including family and brotherhood, alongside his health condition.
I thought – well why don’t we try and do a bit of an identity piece? For the backdrop, we developed a whole bunch of patterns that represented the different things he spoke about. I also created a central image using his face – I didn’t want to lose the essence of who Harry is, so I used Harry’s eyes straight from the photo I based this artwork from. The expression has two sides to it – that darker side and a lighter side. I decided to keep it simple with a two-toned approach – using light vs dark so it looks like it’s popping out with a 3D look.
MY VISIBLE MESSAGE
It’s an expression of how important it is to have a healthy balance of internal strengths and the strength of the supports you surround yourself with.
I want young people to know that while you might feel fragmented at times, it’s possible to take all of these competing pieces of yourself and express them in a way that can make you feel whole again.
No single thing has been responsible for seeing me through my experience. The relationship between my physical health and mental health, family and friends, my own conviction – these are all places that I can draw strength from.
The process involved a lot of trust, collaboration and fun. We sprinkled a lot of glitter together and there was method to the madness. I gathered all the content from our workshop like a hunter gatherer, took it home and refined it on the computer in sections. I worked on the backdrop first, then the images, and layered them all on top of each other so they’d fit together in a way that’s almost symmetrical.
The roses represent a beautiful struggle as well as a flourishing new life – I felt the floral would be a symbol of standing the test of time. The “never cruel and never cowardly” quote is a motto that Harry suggested, and is incorporated with the phoenix representing new life. The birds and the wings represent family. We spoke about support from Harry’s family and loved ones which is represented through the pillars. These pillars are a strong part of his identity.
One of the reasons I wanted to work with Josh is because I wanted to put me out on a table and have someone show me what they see – I knew he would be able to perfectly capture the things that I personally value. One of the things I admired most about Josh was his ability to express my complex emotional canvas through very grounded and simple visual forms.
Seeing the end result gave me a profound respect and appreciation for all the people who have played such an important role in my life so far.
Harry Iles-Mann (he/him)
Harry’s ideal future for health in Australia is one in which the public are health literate, and enjoy access to health care services which equitably support and enable their own health and wellbeing. Harry hopes to bring a change in culture that removes stigma and barriers for young people trying to manage and navigate their physical and mental health challenges. He hopes to work together with the nation to redefine the expectation which society places on individuals. Harry is currently completing a law and philosophy degree, which he hopes will strengthen his ability to advocate effectively and compassionately for himself and others.
Josh Muir (he/him)
Josh Muir is a Melbourne-based multi-media artist who produces panels printed on metal inspired by street art and hip-hop. Muir has exhibited at the Warrnambool Art Gallery with a solo exhibition and has recently been included as part of ‘Marking Time: Indigenous Art From the NGV.’ In December 2019, he presented a large-scale multi-media project for the inaugural Going Solo: First Nations 2019 exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery and the previous year Muir held a major solo exhibition at The Koorie Heritage Trust. His work has been acquired by the Koorie Heritage Trust, The National Gallery of Australia, Bendigo Art Gallery, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, the National Gallery of Victoria and he was commissioned as a major project artist by White Night.