Following my residency at Joya in June, I have been thinking more and more about the starting points that help develop my practice, and the techniques that provide pathways forward in terms of my experimentation. I soon realised how although I am certainly not a painter, and I profess no outstanding talents concerning paint, acrylic has still been a readily available material which allows me to play and develop starting points going forward. When considering the back catalogue of my work, I always seem to start by taking photos of myself, making body map paintings, or even doing simple mark making. Although the pieces I produce are not in any way finished or explored, the pieces simply help me think of potential avenues for my work.
Therefore, I decided this time to take photographs of my friends, but instead, I asked them to pose in a way which highlights what they believe to be flaws on their body. Relating to a lot of my work which explores notions of mental health, insecurities and personal torment, I asked my friends to do this to help them face their fears, and to give myself the sensitive challenge of trying to transform the ‘flaws’ into art my friend like and can embrace.
I also decided once again to paint the pieces with just my fingers and hands, as I wanted to get that connect with the pieces. I also wanted to feel connected to the friends themselves, and understand further why they view certain parts of their bodies as flaws. Through doing this, I felt a much stronger personal connection with each person as I was painting.
The first painting is my oldest friend Elizabeth, who believes her scars from self-harming and stomach are the biggest flaws on her body. Therefore, she posed sitting down, wearing a bra and trousers, holding her stomach for comfort. Although she is still very conscious of her scars, she is trying to overcome the stigma and negative connotations she associates with them. When Elizabeth saw my painting, she said “there’s enough insecurity in it to show just how I feel about my body, [and] it really highlights how I’m trying to support myself in accepting myself for who I am.” I found these comments to compliment the purpose of the painting, as I felt it was vital to capture the light and dark literally and figuratively, along with her arm, so tentatively holding her stomach. The pose itself showed a willingness to overcome her insecurities, but through this, it highlighted the insecurities themselves. I found this irony really beautiful, which is what I wanted to highlight in my initial work.
All images curtesy of the artist and blogger, Samantha Dobson.
Please notes the name of my friend has been changed for confidentiality reasons.