Alain Thijs struggled with bipolar disorder for over 20 years, undiagnosed and trying to cope with extreme mood swings that placed a significant strain on the family. Now on medication and finally aware of the reasons behind his behaviour the family and Alain can finally understand the events that have had a dramatic effect on all their lives.
In Safe House Lea Thijs uses photography to create complex personal images in response to both her memories of her family home in Johannesburg, South Africa and coming to terms with her father living with bipolar disorder.
These photographic narratives were also prompted by the words her father would constantly write during his mental ill health. Discussing these letters Lea states: “ It helped me understand and accept a lot of the mistakes he has made over the years and also acted as a release for my father in trying to understand his actions.“ The photographs in Safe House form a visual diary of her father whilst also documenting how many families struggle to fully understand this difficult illness.
The title Safe House comes from an essay in The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz.
All images and text © Léa Thijs
Book By Léa Thijs
By Léa Thijs
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