Chris McSkimming’s art journey Odyssey opens at Taupō Museum
“My art is my story, the story is in the art…without the story, the journey, the troubles and life experiences, it’s just a bunch of pictures.”
For Reporoa-based artist Chris McSkimming, working on his art is a welcome escape from being inside his own head.
For the last decade, the former rural and remote nurse, whose art exhibition Odyssey opens at Taupō Museum on Saturday 13 May, has struggled with complex post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression after a career of dealing with often violent or stressful situations.
It was while he was hospitalised with severe mental health difficulties that Chris discovered painting and found that picking up a paint brush, doing fluid pour artworks and exploring abstracts brought him peace.
Now his colourful works, which often come with a serious message, have found a wide audience and it gives Chris great joy to see people connecting with the artworks, and seeing them go to new homes.
He says he doesn’t have a style and describes himself as ‘an outsider artist’ – one with no formal training or background in art.
Chris says art as therapy remains a big part of his ongoing journey to recovery, solace and comfort. A lot of satisfaction comes from sharing it with others through teaching his fluid pour techniques and seeing the joy it brings.
He documents his journey through growth, change and living with PTSD with the 16,000 followers of his Facebook page. People appreciate not just his art but also his frank accounts of living and growing through his mental health struggles, which he shares in the hope that his own strategies for managing the dark times can benefit others.
Odyssey is Chris’s first solo exhibition and he says he’s found the preparation “mildly anxiety-provoking”.
The meaning of the word odyssey is: “a long wandering or voyage, usually marked by many changes of fortune; and an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest,” which aptly sums up Chris’s continuing path. The collection of artworks on display marks the many changes in his life since his art journey began.
Odyssey is showing in Taupō Museum’s main gallery from 13 May until 18 June, with a public opening on Friday 12 May at 5.30pm to which everyone is invited.
Taupō Museum is open from 10am to 4.30pm daily and entry is free for Taupō District residents with proof of address.