Welcome to another week, which also happens to be Children’s Mental Health week in the UK.
This is a poignant moment to share Researching Reform’s Image of The Month with you, as our Artist In Residence Paul Brian Tovey is an adult adoptee whose adoptive parents abused him in childhood. His work reflects the impact this abuse has had on his mental health, as a child and as an adult.
Paul now campaigns for adoptees to have the legal right to revert back to their birth identities.
This painting is titled, “The rise of the dogpache.”
Speaking to Researching Reform, Paul said:
“Mr Dogpache is another link in the Therapy chain of pain of Adoption. You have to bear in mind I will always be maintaining my Self and resolving pain with therapy methods because of long term deeply imprinted child abuse damages.
So what does Mr Dogpache mean and why has he arisen? Well firstly, I believe in Dog, because, as some will recall my dog snarled at my child abuser and tried to protect me from a beating. So I identify with Dog. It’s completely childological.
For other reasons too, like being caned and mistreated I will use the term Dog as a kind of medal of biting at survival.
And, yet the positive side of belief in Dog is the power to bite back.
I did not have it really as a child and that stored up volcanic Dog energy in me which I’ve had to release in therapy – lots of grief. Me and Mr Atlantic know each other well. It’s old pain and rage running around. Yeah, that’s me. Raising the Titanic. Lost family, and letting them go again. Part of me is a big blue-black ocean with me and Dog staring into foreverness.
The Lore of Therapy is: first you rage but inevitably you must face core trauma and grief. My Art is like an inner (dog) angel reminding me I have to face the old record of my life from time to time because the present and where I work within it, activates pain. Life does that anyway. It’s the cost for some of us of being alive in the usual social thorns.
The other dimension in my Art is the “Daft Dimension” where laughing in the fires happens, and it’s like at last the child I was long dissociated from, at last knows I came home to him and became serious friends. I wish I could tell you how much I laugh sometimes right inside pictures. Pained yes, but the sky in them vibrates with laughter of a strange survival. A dogged one. At one with barking! All my love xxx.”
Many thanks to Paul for allowing us to share his brilliant work, and for offering such powerful insight into childhoods which have been abused.