A vibrant new art exhibition is aiming to shed some light in Stratford and on the issue of mental health.

Respected artist Bobby Baker has curated Letting in the Light, a series of lightboxes featuring images of paintings, drawings, digital and mixed media work by artists who all have personal experience of mental health issues.

Bobby, who is artistic director of Daily Life Ltd based in Stratford, hopes the exhibition will literally lighten and illuminate the darkness that many feel at this time of year and challenge attitudes to mental health issues.

The title is a reference to Groucho Marx’ immortal line: ‘Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light.’

Daily Life Ltd promotes the talents and insight of creative people with personal experience of mental health issues. Working in partnership with arts charity Outside In and Bromley-based Bethlem Gallery, Bobby put an open call for submissions on the theme of ‘letting in the light’ that attracted more than 150 entries from around the UK.

Of these 35 were chosen to display on the lightboxes, and their work ranges from abstract art to figurative painting, detailed and complex drawings to collage. The exhibition also feature three drawings by Bobby, who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 1996, including a new customised reworking of her piece Battle Hardened about surviving mental illness.

The Tufnell Park resident is best known for her exhibition Diary Drawings: Mental Illness and Me 1997-2008 that was first shown at the Wellcome Collection in 2009 and won the MIND Book of the Year Award.

She says: “When I had serious mental health problems I was mostly judged and underestimated, but when people see the autobiographical drawings I made during that time it helps change the way they think about mental health.

“Experiencing mental distress and difficult times are part of the human condition and can form a rich basis for reflection and awareness. Artists like us, with unique experiences, can create work that enlightens and delights people.”

The exhibition was unveiled last week outside The Grove, opposite Stratford Library and will remain in place until March 23.

Speaking at the opening Bobby said: “I’m really thrilled that so many people came to the opening but also at the numbers of passers by who are stopping and showing obvious delight at the work we have in the lightboxes.

“One person said we had created a new landmark for Stratford.”

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

George Harding, Alignment. “This piece explores the self and fragmentation of the figure to an outside source. To me they show a desire to go beyond the real and to be part of a wider sphere that can’t be described. I am exploring this through meditation but also through paint. The image was made by taking photographs in the mist of mirrors after a shower which are then painted to colour and light through pointillism and blurring. Alignment sits in the collection of the Museum of the Mind.”

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

Liz Atkin, Lavish. “Compulsive Skin Picking dominated my life for more than 20 years, but through a background in dance and theatre, I confronted the condition to harness creative repair and recovery. ‘Lavish’ is a textural self-portrait. Formerly a site of skin picking, I re-imagined and transformed my face through repeated touch with vivid acrylic paint.”

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

Dolly Sen, Coffee Stain Stars. “When I was on a psychiatric ward I drank endless cups of tea and coffee, and although I felt lost in my mental pain, I connected to the other people through the communal act of drinking coffee together. I took a picture of my coffee-stained bedside table and through Photoshop turned them into stars, just to prove everything is connected and that you can make stars out of anything.”

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

Bobby Baker, The Daily Stream of Consciousness. “This is how my life is now – loving being part of everyday life with my thoughts streaming along with me in a rowing boat, kayak or cabin cruiser, depending on the time of day.”