My art work is reflective of how I feel at times (as if my head is unable to turn off) and how mental health problems can feel visually. I used my dreams and my synaesthesia to help inspire some the imagery in my work. After experimenting with pure ink and paint as well as ink pens I think that I prefer how my art style looks in line work ink pens because they are comfortable and easy to use and usually have my desired end look. I think that some of my work represents the overwhelming awareness of being constantly awake (metaphorically) and some other artworks represent being unaware and confused, like the feeling of being disconnected from reality.
When introduced to the topic of ‘Asleep and Awake’, I wanted to focus on a negative concept which affects us even when asleep, or awake. Phobias was the focus point of this. To begin my work, I started off with clowns, which is a very common phobia as they are used as a ‘scare tactic’ in most films or shows, for example, IT and American Horror Story. By using clowns, they could appear in our dreams/nightmares and when we are awake, as we could see them at a circus or an amusement park. Following on from this, I wanted to create a piece of art that was more based on the supernatural brink, and I created a hand figure mixed with the finger tips being humans, to confuse the mind and also kind of scare it as it would be abnormal to society, and this would create a phobia of abnormality for people. My ideas for this topic are very much warped and twisted just like our imagination and how we become scared of our own dreams (nightmares) and how its the same in the real world, when we get scared of something like a spider.
Having chosen the stimuli of ‘Together and Apart’ I decided to explore this concept in terms of transition, in which one is separating themselves from one condition while simultaneously moving into another. Stuck in a somewhat limbo. In an attempt to revolve this project around a topic slightly personal, making it easier to navigate and express through art, I decided to speak on the confusion of growth, specifically in relation to the end of adolescence and an entry into adulthood. I aimed to explore several concepts linked to this idea, such as the increase of loneliness, the turmoil that comes with navigating an unfamiliar world, and so on. Essentially, I wanted my artwork to be centred around portraits of disfigured/altered people in order to portray imagery of what personal growth and its relation to the world may look like, through surrealist means or other artistic styles. Aykut Aydogdu, Rosanna Jones, Svetlana Novakova, and Jesus Leguizamo were the artists I took main inspiration from, their works centred around depicting humans in peculiar conditions, their pieces representations of confusion, loss of identity and more. Currently, I have done in depth studies of Aykut Aydogdu and Rosanna Jones, and partially of Svetlana Novakova, and have made imitative works in order to grasp their technique. For my primary sources, I took up-close (varying in proximity) pictures of friends and family since portraiture will be the focus of this project. While acrylic paint and drawing pencils were the main media used so far, I aim to experiment more with watercolour, oil pastels and other media to explore their effect on communicating the art’s message. My final goal is to produce pieces that develop and combine inspiring aspects of the mentioned artists’, as well as incorporating personal styles and concepts.
Mia Gadjanski Bowyer
My project delves into the statement “together and apart”, questioning are we really “together” when physically together or can our minds and mindsets set us apart. Explored within romantic relationships, my work has captured and uncovered the overwhelming emotions that arise in these situations (and what that really does to us), as well as some of the moments when you are in a different place questioning: where you are, what memories you see, are you clinging onto the memories, and why…
My project gravitated around topics of mental illnesses and some sort of dreamy place where we all go to when we feel overwhelmed, whether it’s a real place or imaginary. I’m very mindful and intuitive person. Therefore, I always had interest of topics that are hidden from human eyes, like religion, thoughts, subconscious or mental illness. And since no one really knows the answers to them i tried to portray them as I see them. I tried to navigate between topics like sleep disorders, alive and dead psychological detachments or spiritual awakenings. My first project idea was a Bonsai tree which symbolises harmony of life and peace of thoughts, how I represented it was like a heart of the soul. That is the reason of why it is usually in the middle of the painting. Eventually as I was improving my ideas I added more pieces that stayed with me throughout my whole book. One of them was the ‘flying heads’ which resembled the lost soul. In some paintings I decided to draw them with their eyes closed almost like they were dreaming which refers to the “spiritual awakening”. I tried to portray them as they were missing out on life, miserably traveling through the world with their eyes closed. At one-point I also focused on eyes- which are the window to our souls, and moths which can also be seen throughout my book. Moths are known to be a sign of death. Another thing than can be seen throughout my book is this mysterious “tar like” slime which meant to be the death/corruption or negativity of our thoughts consuming us. This idea originated when I tried drawing my dreams and saw a tar river in one of them. On almost all of my pieces I tried to show our connection with the world and other people through many different ways- like the cord cable connecting us with the surrounding. I like to think of that connection as energy. To conclude my project, I am more than happy with my pieces. Especially that all of them either came to me through my mind or dreams, which added more meaning to my whole book; and that made me realise that my whole book is art not just the pieces I put in or the final piece that I create.
In one of my pieces I decided to just free hand scribble/paint while I was watching some shows with my friend and after I finished I realised that the painting looks like my grandma. I didn’t really think of anything at the time, I thought that I might just be subconsciously missing her and that is why it looks like her. After few days from that I got a message from my mum that my grandma died and that might be a coincidence, but I feel like it just proves to me that our soul knows stuff before we do.
I have focused on nightmares and mental health relating to ‘asleep and awake,’ as I have personally been struggling with these two situations.
Schizophrenia: I decided to base my work on hallucinations, specifically the voices of the person experiencing this, and what they may look like to them. These faces I drew were based on of my own original work that I drew as a coping mechanism, after many different attempts and colour studies I eventually finished the canvas. I am very happy with how I was able to come up with an original concept to create a feeling of a fairly complex illness in a simplified way.
Somni-phobia, which is being afraid of going to sleep: The common theme for representing this phobia, include eyes being forced open to literally show the fear of going to bed/sleep, the roses were to represent the chance of having a good sleep, hope almost. As sleep is in the dark, I wanted the phobic figures to be dark, horrid, but have some human like features.
Final piece: Nightmares happen to everyone and can affect you in many ways weather you’re asleep or awake, however they are most effective when the person is asleep, as you have no control, making the nightmare itself powerful and effective. The Mannequin is painted with different skin tones (like patches) to represent that everyone goes through this. These nightmares happen in your head and then are able to crawl out and effect your actual self, hence the reason the heads come out onto the back of the neck. I believe this was the best approach to show case my project idea.