John-Paul Flintoff Opens Up About His Depression and Street View Art

After suffering a nervous breakdown and being put on “suicide watch”, Hampstead artist and poet John-Paul Flintoff found solace in his art.

the old Sunday time The journalist said a series of traumatic events in 2015 triggered his depression years later, which led to him being hospitalized in psychiatry.

Mr Flintoff said he was starting to feel helpless and described himself as a ‘zombie’ after dealing with two deaths in two months and then two more relatives with major health issues.

He said: “It totally destroyed my faith in ‘am I okay, is the world safe?’ I lost my job, I got into debt, it just got worse and worse.

“It took me about three years to recognize it. At the end of 2017, I wished I wasn’t alive, but I wasn’t going to do anything about it, so it felt like a terrible trap.

“I really thought everyone would be better off without me, so it was a dark place.”

Ham & High: John-Paul Flintoff has just released a new book, Psalms for the CityJohn-Paul Flintoff just released a new book, Psalms for the City (Photo: Jean-Paul Flintoff)

Despite going through a ‘terrible time’ for eight weeks in hospital, the Hampstead resident said he ‘wouldn’t want it’.

From there, he had to rebuild himself. Still in debt and out of work, he focused on small accomplishments like going to the pharmacy, which felt like major milestones.

Prior to his writing career, Mr. Flintoff viewed art as a hobby. But his psychiatrist encourages him to continue drawing, which allows him to express himself on another medium.

Mr Flintoff said: ‘I have come a long way in my recovery drawing instead of writing. So I drew pictures of myself in situations of what I imagined myself doing – to show myself how brutal it could be sometimes.

Ham & High: His drawings then take on a biblical twistHis drawings then take a biblical turn (Photo: Jean-Paul Flintoff)

It depicted “two versions” of himself, one where he could look at his sad handiwork and distance himself from his dark thoughts.

During his recovery process, he was also recommended to walk home and digest what he was thinking. From there he found refuge at Holy Trinity Church in Sloane Square, Chelsea.

Although Mr Flintoff claims he was not brought up religiously, he found it restful to sit in church and enjoy its free shelter.

He said, “I was kind of persecuted by my own self-critical thoughts, so I found it very helpful to recite the prayers over and over again just to silence my brain. So that helped.

Ham & High: John-Paul started doodling on Street View footage during lockdownJohn-Paul started doodling on Street View footage during lockdown (Photo: Jean-Paul Flintoff)

He was often impressed by the colorful stained glass windows in the church and his designs began to take inspiration from the church.

The raw emotion of his works began to captivate others as well, to the point that he was asked to do 37 portraits of members of his parish.

At this point, he began to turn his therapeutic tools of walking and art into means of pleasing others. When his quiet times at church were suppressed during the Covid-19 lockdown, he organized online ‘pilgrimages’ across London using Google Street View.

Ham & High: Images of Jean-Paul began to gain traction during his online pilgrimagesImages of Jean-Paul began to gain traction during his online pilgrimages (Photo: Jean-Paul Flintoff)

Audiences online could see him clicking blurry faces and number plates to show off the capital’s inner beauty as he traveled virtually from north London to Canterbury. During these “pilgrimages”, he took screenshots and drew biblical scenes on the images of modern Britain.

Unlike his works of art based on trauma from the past, the Street View doodles took on humorous biblical adaptations of modern London – from an invasion of flies in West Hampstead to Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac in front of a cleaner in dry from north London.

Ham & High: a plague of fliesA plague of flies (Photo: Jean-Paul Flintoff)

A series of virtual pilgrimages are still underway, where participants will be able to draw in collaboration with Jean-Paul using A next session will take place on Thursday, November 3 at 7 p.m. on:

Psalms for the City, a book of illustrated poems inspired by the Luttrell Psalter, has just been published by Mr. Flintoff, describing how he found peace in a chaotic city.

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