The Garden of Winter

In this winter garden
Everything is silent.
Still ground, sleeping trees,
Frozen in space, frozen in time.

The water is calm
And as black as the night
Sparkling and cold
Yet un-barren.

Blue skin
Cold eyes look up
And search the tree-line
Thin layers of frost
Cover and seal my lips

In this garden of winter
I am the silence,
The lack of sound
Hushed whispers
And lonely footsteps

In this white garden
I make new friends
Beautiful and cold.
Will cry their life away
Until they are no more
Spilled on to the grass

In this garden of cold,
Nothing rules here
Except for frost and ice
The coldness and winds
Will never change.

Sound is still
And time is broken.


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


Yellow Walls


02 A-Door

03 The-Bathroom

04 The-Kitchen-Sink

05 Desk

06 The-Washing

07 The-Window

08 The-Hallway

09 The-End

This flat
This attractive home
I love this building with its beautiful doors

With locks

I love this house with beautiful windows

And view

I love this room with it’s beautiful walls
Beautiful yellow walls!

Can’t work
Can’t write
Can’t play
Must rest

My friends say I must rest

They all say I must rest

So I rest in this room

(The room with the yellow walls)

Scrape, Claw, Scratch at the
Yellow walls