Self Harm

Self-harm is a broad term and covers a wide variety of actions, thoughts and feelings.  People may hurt themselves by cutting, biting, scratching or burning their skin.   Or by taking drugs, or an overdose, or misuse alcohol, or have a pattern of risky behaviour, or… lots of different methods.

Quite often, Self-harm goes on behind closed doors and nobody notices until after it becomes addictive and is part of routine behaviour.  This could be months afterwards or immediately depending on the severity of injury or how convincing the ‘I’m fine’ visage is.

Self-harm in young people is at an “epidemic level” in the UK, according to Marjory Wallace, Chief Executive for mental health charity SANE.  She also said “The ways of self-harm have become more aggressive.”

Self-harm is a way of expressing anguish. People may not even know why they self-harm.  It’s a form of communication which doesn’t articulate though thoughts, words, or sound.  It’s been described as an inner scream, a satisfying or pleasurable release of pressure that is felt, because one is only able to feel sensation during the act.  For a short while afterwards, life seems more manageable yet as the behaviour is cyclic, more episodes trigger and over time can escalate to unsafe levels.

Comprehensive information covering self-harm is available online Mind Self-Harm NHS The Site & SANE

The reasons and behaviours for self-harm are not, however the focus of this 4 part photo essay, these photographs intentionally visualise self-harm, from a different view.

As human beings, we don’t normally enjoy looking at imagery of harm.  For instance, when confronted with a photograph of a victim who has been assaulted, we can see the aftermath of the attack in a cut face, a black eye, or some other form of injury to the person.  What’s worse is knowing the attack actually happened, two people have been at conflict and one has damaged the other.  It may have been quick, or prolonged and with varying degree of pain.  If you’ve seen the photograph, you’ve had the proof. – There is a perpetrator and there is a victim.

Suppose, for a moment that self-harm can be viewed as attack to one’s self.

The attacker and victim are one and the same, and self-harm is instantly stigmatised because the assault is labelled self-harm and becomes ‘Mental Health’.  Stigma breeds fear in those who are suffering which makes ‘coming out’ even more difficult.  It can be challenging to ask for help and the stress of this may also exacerbate the problem.  Many people self-harm in secret, behind closed doors, away from other people.  If psychical wounds or scars are prevalent, they can be covered by clothing or jewellery, if the scars are mental, they may be much easier to hide.  If you can’t see the wounds, you may not know someone needs help.

I wonder how we would react if, during the times when the need to self-harm is strong, we could divide ourselves into two separate people and harm the other.  Because attacker and victim are now two separate people, self is removed and attack remains.

If society could see that self-harm can be is just as serious as other forms of psychological and physical assault maybe there would be more understanding and more willingness to help those who suffer from self-harm.

Self Harm 1, by Tom Robson

Self Harm 2, by Tom Robson

Self Harm 3, by Tom Robson

Self Harm 4, by Tom Robson


This is My Suburb

Graffiti is sometimes recognised as a dirty form of street art, Indecipherable tags and secret codes are painted onto walls and most passers-by are immune to its messages.  Others are confused or angered by the visual intrusion into their daily commute.
Graffiti is seldom considered street art by many people, I don’t mind it, but I would not call graffiti, street art.  Perhaps because in my neighbourhood there is no street art, only graffiti.  The media centre on street artists, such as Robert Banks, or just Banksy. Banksy’s signature stencils of kissing coppers, flower-chucking terrorists and mischievous rats found on doorways and side streets have become so sought-after that they are being chipped out of walls and sold for ludicrous sums.  Like it or not, graffiti is part of our High Street.  It’s something we see daily, or share, or even participate in.
“This is My Suburb” is a quota of my neighbourhood, and counterpoints with the photographs taken for the “This is Our High Street” series. A set of photographs which display images of recession and decline from our High Street. they photographs highlight the bleakness of our economic downturn by presenting our decaying high street which we all share.
In my neighbourhood, there is no street art. No wonderfully inspired yet illegal murals or beautiful works art, spray painted by artists at after dusk. No political statements nor debates and no messages storming the traditional bastions of high culture.

These are simply photographs of tags and scribbles when collected together, demonstrates how our high street descends into the state of our neighbourhoods.

(This set exhibited at The Eleventh Hour Exhibition. The eight, original prints are available to purchase. Please contact me for information).

This is My Suburb 1, by Tom Robson This is My Suburb 2, by Tom Robson This is My Suburb 3, by Tom Robson This is My Suburb 4, by Tom Robson This is My Suburb 5, by Tom Robson This is My Suburb 6, by Tom Robson This is My Suburb, 7 by Tom Robson This is My Suburb, 8 by Tom Robson

The Eleventh Hour Exhibition open now!

06-twitter-follow-me-blackAlso see:

The Eleventh Hour

I would like to present “The Eleventh Hour Exhibition” which is held between 6th June to 28th June 2013 at Flint Hall, Belvoir Street, Leicester.

The work is a celebration of the projects and achievements of the Award in Photography Artists as their qualifications are achieved and I am delighted to have attained the grade of distinction for my work.

The artist’s work on display contains a diverse range of photographic genres including portrait, self portrait, street, documentary, still life, conceptual, art photography and landscape. The artists also use a wide variety of techniques both in camera and through digital manipulation to produce the work.

Our teacher, Zoe Van-De-Velde has said “There was no intention to just teach students how to use their camera and to ask them to take the standard shots. Their work should, though their creative process be a reflection of them. By this method the students could, over the time of the course become themselves though their images and ultimately forget their tutor’s existence.”

The Eleventh Hour, presented by the Award in Photography Artists is a free entry, open exhibition featuring creative works by Glyn Farman, Andy Howe, Angela Jarvis, Estelle Keeber, Ann Samuel Till, Gavin Whyman, Anne Woodman and myself. The exhibition website is:  A book to accompany the Exhibition is available at

Zoe Van-De-Velde has said of my contribution: “Robson’s innate sense of how to create a conceptual piece has led him to experiment with weightier subjects such as Father which rearranges the Dylan Thomas villanelle Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night and uses old Polaroids set against a backdrop of a drunkenness and despair. In Yellow Walls, Robson explores depression and anxiety through a series of shots that give the viewer a feeling of claustrophobia”.

Unpublished works by myself, on display at the Exhibition include “This is My Suburb”*, The Ribbon, Man3 and Self Harm. (*Published after this post)

I do hope you are able to attend, should you live or work in this area. Samples of my work can be seen at my portfolio: If you have a project and feel my style is suitable for your needs, please contact me.  Selected artworks are available to purchase and I am available for hire.