On a mission to share his story and inspire others, Bryce has used art to overcome mental health challenges and hopes to encourage others to find wellness through creativity.
Seven years ago, 29-year-old Bryce Holywell says his life changed dramatically. The year after completing a Bachelor of Visual Arts majoring in graphic design and multimedia, he started a role as a junior designer –the dream, right?
However, a few months later, while battling some other personal complications, Bryce lost the job –something that took a major toll on his mental health and led to the first of several hospitalisations he’s had in subsequent years. Thankfully, his lifelong love of art proved to be a vital anchor throughout his recovery, and now he’s channelling his creativity to support his wellness and encouraging others to do the same.
“My art and design practice has helped me overcome many days of deep depression and times when I’ve felt alone,” Bryce explains. “It allows me to express what I’m feeling. Even if what I’m drawing doesn’t make sense, the process of creating is a healthy release – it helps uplift my spirit and brings me back to the positive side.”
This month the talented Melton West-based digital artist and graphic designer is set to unveil his biggest project yet – right here at Woodgrove. With the planned opening of his ‘Flow State’ exhibition at Melton Library postponed to 22 June due to Covid-19, Bryce’s colourful works have come to Woodgrove, thanks to the support of a special partnership between Woodgrove and Melton City Council.
Featuring his intricate and colourful mandala drawings, ‘Flow State’ charts Bryce’s personal experience of overcoming mental illness through what he terms ‘meditative awareness’ or the ‘flow state.’ Bryce cites his creative practice as being a vital part of managing his health and believes that creativity has the potential to benefit people of all ages, especially those who face their own mental health struggles.
Bryce, who says he has been an avid illustrator since childhood, explains that the inspiration for his mandala-style artworks comes from “the process of diving into the mind during meditation and creating whatever comes to mind in that moment of awareness.”
He creates his digital artworks using the Procreate application on his iPad, and says that he initially adopted the mandala approach (which he also describes as “meditative pattern drawings”) for his own interest and as a form of therapy. “I figured doing a mandala was the easiest way to zone out and let the mind flow,” he explains.
Bryce says he feels incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share his work and his story with his community. “I feel privileged to be involved in this project,” he explains. “Public art is essential, so being given this opportunity to show my work to my community is an absolute honour. I really hope it inspires people.”
From now until 31 July, visitors to Woodgrove can view Bryce’s work around the centre in the form of floor and wall decals that share messages of wellbeing. Woodgrove and Melton City Council hope this project helps to spread positivity and lift community spirits amid the challenges of Covid-19 isolation.
To help families get through winter, Bryce has also developed a range of mandala-style colouring sheets for kids, which will be the centrepiece of a special colouring competition with prizes on offer for the best colouring. Bryce has also worked with Melton City Council’s arts program to develop a video tutorial designed for young and adult audiences alike, where he demonstrates easy, step-by-step instructions for creating a mandala. You can view the video tutorial here.
Bryce explains: “This community is about helping and supporting each other through thick and thin, especially through these unpredictable times we face now. I want to play my part in keeping our people in high spirits. I think my art in this project can do just that.”