Transference and Dreams

April 4, 2015

_MG_1799_MG_1800 _MG_1811 _MG_1810 I began these drawings a few weeks ago, beginning with wet paper and adding inks to make feathery and spidery effects (later adding watercolour). I was inspired after visiting the Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden exhibition at the Tate Modern; her amazing ink drawings pinned together on the gallery wall. As I had recently been working in ink, I appreciated her fluid use of this diverse and unpredictable material. I found the image below from the exhibition on the Guardian website. The concept for my own drawings is the idea of transference; the projection of intense and difficult emotions, an experience which can be unavoidable when working in mental health. I imagined these images, and used colour combinations to show intense emotional states. The faces are dreamlike and not unlike masks, symbolising the metaphorical façades that others give us; projecting unconscious feelings and past unresolved relationships. Marlene Dumas retrospective, Tate Modern, London, Britain - 03 Feb 2015 I have also been working on concertina sketchbooks, enjoying the long and flowing format that can be stretched out or folded away in a swift movement. The images below show sketchbooks using inks and watercolours, as well as collage and acrylic paint. I began the watercolour sketchbook by working in pencil, drawing from postcards of brain tissue, neurones and CT brain scans, mixing these with my own patterns. The acrylic and collage sketchbook continues the idea of surreal dream imagery; both sketchbooks work as visual mind landscapes. _MG_1808 _MG_1806 _MG_1804 _MG_1803 _MG_1802 _MG_1814 _MG_1813 _MG_1812 _MG_1815

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Recently I have been working on some large canvases using acrylic paint, collaged paper, PVA glue, glitter glue, ink and oil pastels. I decided to use some of my sketchbook work as inspiration to move onto these larger scale pieces. I wasn’t sure how it would work on a larger scale, the general appearance of the works is quite abstract but as you look closer you can see the layers of collage under the glue, ink and paint. I used circle shapes as I have been interested in mandalas for a while now, and these shapes have often appeared in my smaller collages. (A Mandala circle is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism representing the Universe and cosmos, but can also be a symbol of self). I wanted the content of the collages to appear bizarre and confusing to the viewer, to give an insight into the surreality, distress or even euphoria that someone experiencing psychosis may feel. This theme is a continuation of one of my sketchbooks which focuses on my experiences of working on a psychiatric ward with acutely unwell and distressed patients. I have included images that show the progress of these pieces and the gradual building up of layers. I apologise for the quality of these images, I will be uploading some better pictures when these are finished.

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A Year later

July 25, 2014

Hello all….it has been a year since I last posted on this blog, so I have decided to get back into blogging and to write about my recent work and experiences. I have got onto the MA Art Psychotherapy Course at Goldsmiths University (which I hope to start next year), and have been enjoying making art work with both patients with dementia and patients with psychiatric illnesses in my most recent jobs. These jobs have been so rewarding, but at the same time can be draining and challenging. At times I have felt so unmotivated to make art work,  as I really give my all to the people that I work with.  I know that art is my central focus, but for many others this is not the case . Some people don’t get anything from it, but others can discover art for the first time and find it deeply therapeutic. This to me is amazing, it makes it all worthwhile.

I have known since the age of 6 that art was what I wanted to do with my life, I remember feeling so excited when we did art classes- and wishing that we could paint all of the time. Art therapy appeals so much to me because I can combine this passion with my interest in people and the human condition.

Since moving down south my art work has changed, as I have no studio to work in,  sketchbooks have been both an accommodating and exciting way to record my experiences and feelings of working with troubled and unwell people. Some of the work focused on my obsession of death and mortality and the existential dilemma that we all face as human beings. I used collage and words to give a flavour of the language and confusion of working on a psychiatric ward, and also explored difficult feelings that come through bereavement and sudden trauma. The art work has helped me to clarify and understand my own feelings, I am hoping to develop these ideas and to have an exhibition some time in the future. These images are from my sketchbook that focuses on the cycle of life and death and issues of mortality.

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Some people ask why I don’t just make art work and sell it, but this just doesn’t appeal to me at the moment. I think it all comes down to the question of ‘why’ we make art work, and what we get from it. The series of portraits that I was working on last year just sort of came to a stand still, my temporary studio in my old flat was packed away and my working rhythm was disrupted. This is life I guess, and I feel that sometimes time away from art can be just as important as the art making itself. Now I am unsure about what sort of painting I want to do, I just know that my sketchbook and collage work feels instant and communicates how I feel very well.

When working with an art therapist in my current job, the emphasis in the art therapy group is not on us and our art work, but on the patients. We must be one hundred percent present in the moment for them, in this group I doodle as the patients use the space to think about how they are feeling, and what they think about the ward environment and the difficult journeys that they have taken to be in hospital. My doodles are non representative, but are expressive on a deeper level in that they reflect and the group environment and also reflect on vibes or feelings that can be transferred by other group members. An experiential course that I attended this year introduced me to the theories behind art therapy, and also allowed me to reflect on my own difficult life experiences through art making. A different aspect involved was that we discussed and analysed our images together, and that the work was made in a safe group environment. We were given themes like ‘a difficult relationship’ and ‘a reflection of the day’, through interpreting these themes we made them relevant to ourselves and spent time deeply reflecting while making the art work.

As well as gaining experience towards my career in art therapy, I have finally finished my album cover commission for Claire Boswell. It’s really exciting to see my visual work reaching a larger audience,  it has been a pleasure to creatively collaborate and to realise this image using both of our visions and ideas.

Album Cover