Chris Butler – Artist & Musician
co founder of UK art collective We Are Willow
On world mental health day October 10th 2018 I launched my most ambitious creative project to date, ‘A Different Light’ in collaboration with Manchester Mind. Developed over two years to raise awareness of male mental health, the work involves a range of artists featuring four film commissions, spoken word and a 12 track album of music. When I say ‘I’ I actually mean ‘We’ as everything involves the help of others. I owe the success of this project to everyone who was willing to believe in my idea and contribute creatively, physically, emotionally and financially.
After launching this body of work I moved to Stockport. I know the area through We Are Willow co founder Daren Newman, who was born and bred in these parts, and have always felt a fond association with the place. Slowly but surely over the months that followed I began to consider how I could continue the legacy of the project and reach out to new audiences. This finally led to a reinvention of the project ‘A Different Light – One Year On’ in collaboration with Stockport & District Mind at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery on October 10th 2019.
Stockport & District Mind is a small organisation with a responsibility to provide services to a large community, contributing to positive change through the support of local people. It therefore seemed fitting to work together as ‘A Different Light’ stems from a passion for human nature and the internal battles we face on a daily basis, combined with the deeper emotional struggles we all endure as individuals. Through this work my aim has been to challenge and inspire audiences and celebrate the artists involved – to highlight that creative outlets can increase awareness of sensitive issues that affect us both directly and indirectly.
This project continues to affect people, including myself, and with every corner turned this work leads me down another avenue of anxiety, apprehension but also great positivity. I’ve begun to accept these emotions can readily travel hand in hand, especially when making new ground with something you believe in. There have been several stumbling blocks hindering the second launch of this work and every one has strengthened my belief in its purpose.
I often struggle to live in the moment, distracted by the past and concerned with the future, but when you take a moment to breathe and be in the present you begin to appreciate unique occasions. This was highlighted during the Stockport launch, set in an incredible building and supported by a wealth of good people, to a sell out audience unaware ‘Chorus Of Others’ choir were to perform during the final film screening. The evening ended with tears of emotion and an electric atmosphere that connected the room – the entire purpose of the work.
I stand by the motto that you either ‘do it or don’t do it’ – nobody is missing what doesn’t exist, so you have to make it a reality to have an impact. In my experience good things don’t come easy, I just remind myself there are good people everywhere who are willing to help and support you through the difficult times. If reading this has even slightly stirred and inspired you to find something that shakes the weight from your shoulders and forces a smile, it has been worth it.
Dedicated to the Dads and the Lads,
The Mums and the Sons.
WE ARE WILLOW is a UK based multidisciplinary arts collective collaborating on commercial and self-initiated projects for national and international audiences. Through a passion for visuals and sound with over 20 years experience in the arts and creative industries, We Are Willow strive to create unique and challenging work which embraces the talents of their collaborators.
To listen & download songs from the ‘A Different Light’ project album, visit HERE
For more information on current projects visit > www.wearewillow.com