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Henry Coombes - Love and Lithium

A feature film directed, art directed, and co-written by Henry Coombes

In 2018, Henry Coombes made a documentary film titled Love and Lithium which followed the life of Marcella, a 69-year-old larger than life Glaswegian, who has been in a programme of recovery from alcohol addiction for the past 30 years. During the interviews Coombes utilised his training as a therapist to identify significant memories, exploring them in depth with the using of improvised drawing.  The film has been screened at the Platform as part of Glasgow International Arts Festival 2018, and to audiences of recovering addicts.

Post-screening, Marcella disclosed that the process of being in a documentary had a powerful therapeutic impact on her.  She stated that she "encountered herself for the first time, she liked the person she was looking at".  Following this outcome, the research to test the feasibility of the following: does the process of being a subject of a documentary lead to a new reflexivity that can change self-perception for the better, through positive impact upon self-esteem?

Through an experimental approach to storytelling, transgressing the boundaries of conventional narrative, the research  highlights the importance of ‘creativity’ to forge new relationships with apparently unrelated significant memories: the research proposes that seeing novel connections is the cardinal feature of ‘creativity’ and is essential in healing, creating meaningful discourse about mental health and addiction.

Film still from Henry Coombes