The Cut is the Click – Katrein De Blauwer

Still exploring the idea of a project based around self portraiture and my own mental health issues, I came across this article in Black+White Photography magazine. The article focuses on photographer Katrein De Blauwer whose work was inspired by her troubled childhood. ‘I start with emotions… love, pain, loneliness. The last is the present for me’. Although I visually like the work, it is the way in Katrein speaks about her project that inspires me. My own work is very much based around emotions and how with this module I want to look specifically into what events in the past shaped my life and explore what triggered my social anxiety.

Although the work is produced using film, it is a similar style to the type of work I want to produce. It has a ‘scrap book’ feel to it. The work is in no perfect, which is what makes it feel so personal. Because of the work feeling like it comes from some form of diary, as a viewer we feel as though we are being given a private insight into the life of Katrein De Blauwer. She herself says the she is ‘happy for it to be open to interpretation’. Again, this is very similar in regards to the intention for my work. As the project is so personal to me, it is up to the viewer to decide what it is I’m trying to represent and if it relates to them.

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Sculpture Design

Each drawing below shows the shapes of each layer which will be used within the sculpture. The pictures start the at the head and work down the body. When using a thicker material such as polyboard, each layer will be placed on top of each other which will build up to produce a 3D sculpture. IMG_7596IMG_7597IMG_7598IMG_7599IMG_7600

Sculpture design

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Using CAD software, a ‘body’ was created in the same shape that I aim for my sculpture to be. The white boxes represent where each layer will be – resulting in 23 different layers which when put together create the sculpture. Being 23 years old each layer represents ultimately represents each stage of my life, shaping who I am today.

The main part of the sculpture will be focused around the head, as the main focus of the work is about mental health. When producing the final sculpture, I aim for each layer to be able to be removed, each having photos or writing on them which represent myself and my social anxiety.

Material options

The first material that I have looked into using for my sculpture was foam board.

It is a good material in terms of sticking photographs onto it, and is also easily available to buy meaning the cost of the sculpture will not be to high – something I need to consider when looking into different materials to use. This particular foam board is 5mm thick, which is perfect for creating the desired layered effect I want within my final piece.

One set back to using foam board is how easily it can shapes. I order to create the body shape I will need to sculpt the material into different shapes and layers. Although I believe it can be done, it will take time to ensure that the end result does not look messy.

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Project development

When I started this project I looked into using decopatch as a way of placing photographs  onto an object. Although I wasn’t exactly sure at the start of how I wanted to represent this, I knew that I somehow wanted to use a mask which I had previously used within my last project.

Since researching into other sculptures that have been produced regarding the issue of mental health, I have found that using the body in some form as a sculpture is a popular way of representing mental health. I have moved on from the idea of using a mask, and instead am looking into a way of producing a 3D sculpture of a head to show the link with the invisible problem of mental health.

I also jotted down keys words and ideas that I wanted to incorporate within my work. They are as follows:

  • Sculpture
  • Layers – Different parts of my life that contribute and represent my social anxiety
  • Personal – Keeping the project personal to me and my own battles with mental health
  • Decopatch
  • Photographs
  • Childhood – The way in which my upbringing and childhood could have contributed to my mental health
  • Writing and quotes – Using my own writing to talk about my personal experience with social anxiety

I wanted to create something that somehow incorporated all of these different thoughts. The one that stood out to me most was layers. As somebody who suffers from social anxiety i’m not good at expressing myself to people and talking about why I suffer from social anxiety and how it makes me feel. There are lots of different things that contribute to the disorder, creating this idea of layers. Combining this with the idea of creating a sculpture based around the human body has made me think of a new idea for this project.

I am interested in creating a 3D model of the human body as previously mentioned, but almost directing it into layers. On each layer will represent a different aspect of my social anxiety. The work will incorporate both photographs and text which will be written by me. Although the project is once again very personal to me, I want the work to also be a help to those going through a similar thing and will be something that they can relate to. My next steps is to look into what the actual sculpture can be made from and to best produce the layers within the work.

Project 84 – Mark Jenkins

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Project 84 was a campaign produced by This Morning to represent male suicide. The project was created to ignite a conversation surrounding male suicide, with 84 sculptures being placed on top of studios in London. 84 men take their own life every week within the UK and each sculpture represented one of these men and their stories.

The project for me is quite shocking, especially if you were to see this in person without expecting too. However, I believe that this is needed to make people notice and talk about mental health, instead of ignoring the issue. The project was a collaboration between This Morning and the mental health charity CALM. Using both a charity and popular tv show meant that the campaign could reach a wider audience, something that is important to think about when thinking about how my work can reach a specific audience.

The work not only included the sculptures, but a website in which 84 men who have died from suicide were named, with some going as far to share their stories. Adding this personal touch to the work makes the sculptures and their stories a lot more realistic and harder as a viewer to deal with. I want to incorporate a form of writing and personal experiences within my work, giving a real life insight into what it is like to suffer with social anxiety.

Head Above Water – Steuart Padwick

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In 2018 a sculpture was put up on London’s South Bank, to represent mental health.  Although the sculpture is 9 metres high  and I do not aim to produce something to this scale, the concept behind it is important to me.

Stewart Padwick, its creator, said ‘It stands as a symbol of hope, bravery, compassion, positivity and change, for those who have come through or are still confronting mental health issues, and the people who support them’. He went onto talk about how so many people have demons and battles.

The work is about humanity and the care for others, with the scale of work forcing people to take notice. When I produced my last project, the work was very personal to me and in no way did I want the work to ‘speak’ to others. I produced the work for a selfish reason – for self help more than producing art for the public. However, with this project I am looking at changing my audience. I aim to look into ways that the work will reach those suffering from mental health, as something they can relate to. This sculpture in particular projects a very positive message and is more about recovery than the negative representation of mental health that we often see.

The sculpture was lit up at night, changing colours to reflect how people were feeling through a live twitter feed. For example if you were feeling down the whole sculpture would turn black, making people think. On the other hand if the sculpture was to turn yellow then the effect of people would be more positive. This type of interactiveness is something that also appeals to me, changing the way we think about art. In a gallery space for example, we may be used to simply standing and admiring art, but not being allowed to touch. I want to create something that people can touch and use, making the work more of an installation piece.