Artist Flora McDonnell has struggled with anxiety and depression since childhood. She said: “I always felt that it was something wrong with me which made me try harder – reinforcing a pattern that make depressive episodes more likely. Realising that I was one of many and that I could be helped to help myself live with it was something I had to discover for myself when I was an adult.”

When her son Sorley was three months old, Flora suffered a six-month long episode of acute depression. “I realised I wanted to tell that story, my story, our story. We had survived a terrible storm together.”

The result was her book, Out of a Dark Winter’s Night, which tells the story of a small child whose spirit of adventure is dampened when the day ends and gives way to night. Taking their wheelbarrow, they set out on a mission to stop the sun from setting again, joined along the way by a charming collection of animal friends. But when darkness falls and worst comes to worst, it is hope that eventually carries them back home, where – as day follows night – the dawn breaks again.

  • Images shown here include some of the original sketches for the book. You can see more of Flora’s work here, and Out of a Dark Winter’s Night is published by Thames & Hudson. There will be an exhibition of the original oil pastels from the book in March – click for details.

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