ARTIST RESIDENCY – STUDIO H CANADA
My first piece created during my residency at Studio H – Nauthiz – aimed to visualise the five stages of anger; Trigger, Escalation, Crisis, Recovery and Post-Crisis Depression. Consisting of 59 self-portraits surrounding the central Trigger point, the goal was to create a ripple effect, giving a rational structure to a feeling that lacks form.
My next step was inverting the concept of Nauthiz and creating one large portrait broken into tiny cells. The self-portrait was painted on pages from a notebook taped into a grid. Once the tape was removed, each cell was completely abstracted when standing alone. Each page was attached to the wall with a single pin, allowing the cells to move in the draft, adding to the lack of concrete form of the portrait. I felt this represented the fluid nature of emotions, constantly in flux.
Following this, I honed in on the ‘Crisis’ phase of Nauthiz; the stage when our survival instinct steps in and we engage in a fight or flight response. I was particularly interested in the portraits with a graphic quality created with green oil pastels. I felt this style with its removal of realism represented how our quality of judgment is significantly reduced in this phase of anger. This series of three portraits were strongly influenced by, and a response to, the work of the one and only Roy Lichtenstein. Following research on internalised female rage, I recreated his typical reactions of ‘damsels in distress’ into assertive women.
I was stuck on where to go next, and decided I needed to find out what happens after the ‘Post-Crisis Depression’ phase in the Nauthiz series. The move of focus from the portrait to the figure was a natural progression, as in depression the mind and body are connected. The series of charcoal drawings were based on photographs by Carlo Roncancio. In these images, the shadow is the focal point, and it is the shadow that gives these images their strength. The combination of the shadow and figure together create an abstract form that I felt represented depression very well.
Research also led me to discover that depression and spirituality are two sides of the same door, and so the rest of my work at Studio H was exploring the connection between mind, body and soul. This final series was created upon a Pollock-inspired surface build up of paint to signify different emotions; Happiness, Shame, Depression, Anxiety and Pride. The decision to depict a figure or portrait on top was dependent upon where in the body each emotion is felt. Source material for the portraits and figures were based on life drawings I made during my stay at Studio H and in Amsterdam last year.