The Artist with Multiple Personalities

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gallery: Kim Noble: the artist with multiple personalities, each with its own style of painting
Kim Noble is an artist with many distinct styles. She suffers from from a rare personality disorder called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) - formerly known as multiple personality disorder. Many of her personalities paint, and each of her personalities has its own style of painting
She explains: “Some tend to be more abstract and some like using different colours. It can be very strange because I don’t always remember what I have done when another personality has been in control.”
The condition is thought to be related to severe trauma. “It started as just nightmares when I was younger but then it became much more serious when I was 14,” she said. “Over the years different doctors have diagnosed me as having schizophrenia, anorexia, depression. In many ways some of them were right. One of my personalities is anorexic so they weren’t totally wrong. But it wasn’t getting the whole problem”
In 1995 a psychotherapist was finally able to explain her problems as being caused by DID. Kim learned her condition was unusually severe in tests at University College London with memory expert Professor John Morton. “He did a lot of memory tests and told me he had never met a DID sufferer with so such strong divisions between the personalities. He found no memories existed between some of them”
During a session in 2005 at Kim’s home, carer Debbie McCoy – now an art therapist - suggested painting as a means of relaxing and six months later encouraged her patient to take it more seriously. “She took me out to buy some paints and a canvass and we decided I would try and do it properly instead of just doodling” In just 10 months Kim had her first art exhibited and now four years later has produced over 200 pieces through her multiple characters.
Outsider art has always been something that has absolutely fascinated me.  As an artist myself, I’ve always been more interested in the mind of the artist rather than the art’s external history.  A very close family friend is an art therapist who deals precisely with this and the art shows are the most incredible of all I’ve ever been to.  It’s fascinating to examine the similarities and differences between artists with schizophrenia, personality disorders, manic depression, or artists who are murderers, sociopaths, have suffered from severe brain injuries, or are developmentally delayed etc.
If you want to truly understand the mechanisms of art and the inner workings of the human mind, go to an outsider show.  There’s so much art we choose to ignore that’s made by some incredible people.  Great art is not just about “the bigs.”