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  • Writer's picturezoe birrell

Internal Discord: Butterfly for Hanna Competition Entry

Updated: Mar 1, 2022


This miniature artwork was inspired by Hanna and the brief for the ‘Butterfly for Hannah’ competition. The butterfly sculpt, base and plinth where all sculpted and fabricated by me and the human sculpt is from Savage Forged Miniatures and was purchased in UK via Mr Lees Miniatures.


An Artist Statement of Sorts



One of the most frequents comments I have got when showing people this miniature art piece I have been making for the butterfly for Hanna competition is "Why would you want to shoot a butterfly ?!" or something along those lines in defense of the butterfly. That sentiment says it all in terms of the misconceptions and misunderstanding about mental health. Little do they know the threat something as innocent looking as a butterfly can pose.



The saying unless you experience depression or severe anxiety you can’t really grasp what its like is encapsulated perfectly in that statement “why would you want to shoot a butterfly?!” This question stabs at the exact point I wanted to make with this miniature work. Unless you are there you don’t and can’t see the teeth and the threat that the person holding the machete and pointing the gun can see. The butterfly is a part of me, but even if that was not the case it would make little difference.



This profound misunderstanding affects everything from the way people approach you if/when you have a long term or short term mental health condition and is pervasive in how bureaucracy deals with you and assesses you for support. We have thankfully moved on from the days of lobotomies and chock treatment for anyone who sees this butterfly as a threat but I fear not far enough.



For me this particular piece has a lot of layers.

I chose the human animal sculpt because it was relatively non-binary in its presentation the posture being almost female but the lack of obvious chest bulges that are so dominant in our miniature world seamed to contradict this. The mask hugs my anxiety. The non-human animal in the form of a butterfly represents my nature.



My star sign in Celtic astrology is the butterfly, which I believe encapsulates a part of me that is constantly changing and in flux very well. I thrive on change, movement, creatively, and enthusiastically exploring the world. But that is not how society is set up. So this causes constant conflict and even as a write this the UK government is/has brought in new laws specifically targeting the traveler community and further criminalizing this way of life in the physical world around me.



But I’m also talking here about a way of living that permeates all the choices and beliefs I hold dear. At the centre of a lot of the issues I have with my psycho-emotional health is a lifetime of abuse from individuals and a society who cannot accept any divergence from the norm. So for me personally this is an extremely personal piece in which I address this conflict with this part of myself a part that is actually healthy and is actively trying to make me acknowledge my true self and what I love and treasure. The term mental health itself is problematic in that it implies its all in your mind and nothing to do with the world.


Another layer in this work is the fact that any support you get for mental health tackles the symptoms and by enlarge ignores or refuses to acknowledge the root causes of these symptoms. Maybe having severe anxiety in a fucked up capitalist society while the climate is being destroyed and all life on earth is being threatened for the sake of ignorance and greed is actually a normal reaction.


If someone was standing there with a gun to your head no one would think the best solution is here take these drugs they will make everything better. So for me personally this is an extremely personal piece in which I address this conflict with this part of myself a part that is actually healthy and is actively trying to make me acknowledge my true self and what I love and treasure. The term mental health itself is problematic in that it implies its all in your mind and nothing to do with the world.




Is the bullet in the gun the threat or is it the butterfly?

I honestly don’t know anymore.


I have thrown in a few symbols that you may or may not recognize from the real world.



The Rudimentary Peni band patch on the arm is a subtly way of me paying homage to the MAD Pride movement, and the band that introduced me to them. How many Hannah’s would still be alive today if people around the world in all demographics got mental health support they truly need easily?



The trans flag sticker on the helmet is a hug to all the other trans members of our miniature art community whose mental and emotional health is constantly under attack from the world and is a spit at the fire of lack of lack of representation.


At the end of the day though I’m not saying that is how you should read this work. Take from it what you wish. As with any piece of art I make your personal perception, view and interpretation is the most important for you. I make art for myself but I share it with the world for others to make it their own. I hope it speaks to some part of your soul.


This piece is dedicated to Hanna, Carlos, Krisna and any one else who has left us too soon over the last few years. Sometimes people take their own lives slowly and methodically by living in a self destructive way. You where all loved and you are all missed. It is also dedicated to me as a monument to my own psycho-emotional health. I wanted to make a piece for the butterfly for Hanna competition because I think it’s really important to de-stigmatize and challenge others and our own perceptions of what ‘mental health’ is.


Further Reading about 'Mental Health' and Other Stuff You May Find Interesting


If this is a subject you would like to know more about a different approach to mental health I recommend checking out the following book which is available as a free download here:


Another page you may find interesting is the Mad in the UK community you can find their mission Statement here.


If you would like to know more about the MAD Pride movement go here.


If you don't know who the legendary punk band Rudimentary Peni are check them out here.



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