Before I take you on my journey, I would first like to set the context of my work and what drives my personal practice.
Trying to contextualise behaviours can often be difficult, especially when facing things such as mental health, especially borderline personality disorder, an illness that used to render me c
ompletely unstable at times. It can leave you in a dream like state where reality can often fade away.
Our defence mechanism protects us whilst simultaneously destroying friendships and relationships.
I was never taught to love myself. I was never taught the true power and beauty of the world and what surrounds me.
Perpetually pushed to one side, ignored, and told I was never good enough.
This kind of treatment can have devastating effects on anyone, let alone a teenager.
Thankfully I had hope. I didn’t know how, and I didn’t know much, but I firmly believed that there was MORE than this. I felt it.
This hope and drive fuelled so much of my artwork.
My obsession first began with the concept of ‘death of a moment’, and the authenticity of a moment, I suppose you could say Roland Barthes, French theorist and philosopher, heavily influenced me as well as external factors.
“The photographic shock is meant less to traumatize than to reveal what was perfectly hidden and (…) unconscious to the character.”
-Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida
Upon reading his book ‘Camera Lucida’ I was taken away by what he wrote, and it has stuck with me ever since.
I often found that when creating artworks I would take a negative experience I had had, and explored it by recreating specific factors of the event, accentuating key points. Everything I created always seemed so obvious to me, but for the viewer it would be ambiguous as to the true meaning of what was going on, even though there was an element of understanding the work in broader terms.
Initially I explored this through photography & film, as it was always ‘living/performance art’ that was able to best convey this concept for me.
The work was always highly personal, but it was so cathartic. I never really understood the true power of my work and how it has guided my healing, until recently.
After years of exploration my practice slowly developed into a morbid fascination with death itself.
Then came the time my Grandad passed away. I thought I was prepared for it, but when the time came, it felt like I lost a lot more than just my Grandad. I could feel the darkness drawing in again…
Despite my dark obsessions I was always quite keen to find the light, or beauty in any darkness.
With Grandad gone and my fascination of trying to beautify and justify death growing ferociously, I dived in even deeper, around the same time butterflies became a focus point for me.
The complexity, yet fragility of the butterfly resonated strongly with my mental state.
At first I was very simple in my approach and in my methods because I was so drawn in by each individual butterfly, I would relax, pin and display the butterflies in a frame.
I was drawn in by the idea that I was giving something that has had its life, a second life, to be admired and adored. This in itself was a beautiful thing. As time went on and I begun to pin more and more, I realised how cathartic it actually was. Addictive even.
Fro someone who had such a messy and angry head at the time, it took a lot for me to be able to pin, as it required a peace from within, calmness. I couldn’t start the task angry or upset or I would only destroy these beautifully, delicate creatures.
As my confidence grew so did my ability to get more creative with what I was doing.
Standard frames developed into slightly fancier ones, with an arrangement of flowers I had dried myself, and different backings. Then I moved on to my first dome and fell in love with being able to create a still life, and having so much space to work in.
Throughout all the playing around I developed my own style, so there was a running theme within my works and pieces, setting them aside from other artists. I always wanted my work to be distinct.
I continued to do experiments and really tested the boundaries of my work and my skill, which has ultimately led to me encasing insects and skulls in real silver.
This was definitely a pivotal moment in my artistic practice and I genuinely feel like the luckiest person to have been taught all the skills required carrying out this chemical process.
Not only does the silver look beautiful, it really does beautify death.
Displaying these creatures has become an obsession.
As well as a way to be more accepting towards death.