Figure leaping into air surrounded by dark figures


Josh's story

The story may contain themes of a sensitive nature. See our guidance on viewing the exhibition.

Let it be known,

I did not fall from grace,

I leapt to freedom.

Ansel Elkins

Josh’s story is complex. He was brought up inside a tight religious community. Taught to “be no part of this world” and to fear everything outside of the organisation. Taught to see those within the religion as special, and anyone outside as corrupt and dangerous.

However he started to ask questions and have doubts about elements of the teachings. When he came to the elders of the congregation for help and support, they instructed that he should be disfellowshipped, ostracised by the whole community, shunned, and treated as a pariah, as he was “an instrument of Satan”. His friends or family were prohibited from associating or even speaking with him for fear of being banished themselves. This treatment was intended to ‘encourage’ him to see the error of his ways, repent and seek readmission.

After nine months of this treatment he hit rock bottom, depressed and suicidal. Rather than receiving help - counselling or medication, he was told “don’t seek worldly advice, pray more”. This spiral of pain culminated with a hospital admission for self-inflicted injuries. Whilst in hospital, Josh resolved to find a way to be reinstated into the fold, but only so that he could then leave under his own terms. Which is what he did.

Once outside the religion he was able to find his freedom, reconnecting both with nature and with childhood friends who had also been forced out of the religion. It was here that he learnt gratitude. Gratitude for what has been given, what has been taken away and what was left behind.

It is this journey that Andy’s painting portrays. The dark days when he was told his fall from grace would lead him into the abyss, a dark and empty void. And his awakening, his leap into the unknown where he found his freedom. Where he embraced spirituality in nature, friendship, and love rather than in the strict doctrines of the religion.



Click or tap to see another painting.


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