Comfort in chaos by Johnny Brixton

Mental health deserves its place on the national agenda as one of Australia’s major health epidemics, but Melbourne photographer Shayne Hood has dealt with his demons via a two-year art project, Comfort in Chaos, that he admits saved his life.

© Johnny Brixton
© Johnny Brixton

The work shows Hood’s raw emotive photos of sister cities Melbourne and San Francisco, accompanied by written pieces characterising his innermost struggles during times of severe mental crisis. “Creating Comfort in Chaos is the reason I’m still here today,’ Hood says. “It honestly saved my life.”

© Johnny Brixton
© Johnny Brixton

Hood’s muse is his upbringing. “It’s eye-opening to grow up around a dysfunctional family, drug addiction, and what others call criminals and degenerates,” he says. “I wear where I’m from with pride, wherever I walk. I live for the people I lost, and the dreams that they once had. It has left me with many mental scars, but I choose to put the pain into my work, instead of into something not so desirable.” Hood says that building this exhibition has helped him put a lot of demons to rest.

© Johnny Brixton
© Johnny Brixton

Hood, who’s also known by his artist moniker, ‘Johnny Brixton’, has been variously involved in the Melbourne creative arts scene since 2011 as a photographer, filmmaker, and poet, but through his role as a youth worker and lecturer has come into contact with those needing respite most from mental health issues. He hopes that Comfort in Chaos will encourage others in similar situations to gain the confidence to share their own experiences through art. “It’s so important to have an outlet for your thoughts, to express yourself and sometimes leave your innermost thoughts in a safe way - and art is a great way to do that,” he says. “To now share that with people is scary, but liberating.”

© Johnny Brixton
© Johnny Brixton

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December

Extraordinary images of late 19th and early 20th century Sydney in transition, captured by the Macpherson family over a 50-year period.

March

An ancient rock shelter in remote Arnhem Land decorated with complex x-ray figures and naturalistic animals is one of a number of extraordinary Indigenous sites featured in this exhibition of work by acclaimed Melbourne photographer, John Gollings.

April

Melbourne photojournalist Darrian Traynor presents ‘Occupation Displacement’ - a selection of uncommissioned and self-funded work made over three years focusing on stories of people affected by conflict in the Middle East.

The National Photographic Portrait Prize is an annual event intended to promote the very best in contemporary photographic portraiture by both professional and aspiring Australian photographers.

May

In this boutique workshop, John Gollings will demonstrate photographic techniques and technologies used to document the architectural form.