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'Love and Hate'

Expressionism & Self-Portraiture

How I work (Dec 2012)

I did not read too much at the start of the MFA because I wanted to just make work based on experience and emotions. I wanted the work to have some 'purity' and expressive quality.


In the 2nd year I realised that I like to work intuitively and make the work before analysing it. My first installation piece 'Love and Hate" showed me that I enjoy cutting paper as a medium. Lyrics to my song, 'forget and forgive', were layered behind the cut-out portrait. I think this piece was successful because of the aura it had. The light cast eerie shadows, which I thought added a drama to the piece. Although I am interested in the form of how I present my work, it is really the 'feeling' exuded that I am most concerned with.

At the start of the MFA I felt very drawn to Expressionism as a way of working. I related to the fact it originally developed from a feeling of unrest. It is about subjectivity, inner feelings and angst. Expressionists commented on the modern world and wanted to affect the viewer, and this encapsulates what I wish to do.


Discovering Louise Bourgeois was a breakthrough for me, to find an artist who was already working with intimate truths. The psychological nature of her art showed me how I can express very personal feelings and issues using an art language that can be more universal.


Her flux of mind between strength and weakness showed me that I can express complex and chronic situations. She used art as a way to make sense of her emotional problems, and this completely resonates with me. She said, 

'Cell XXVI' Louise Bourgeois

“you convert the menace, the fear, the anxiety through the redemptive force of Art… What is the value of fear? … I carry my psychoanalysis within the work, everyday I work out all that bothers me, all my complaints… The only remedy against disorder is work. I am what I am doing” (p85 'Why Is That Art?' by Terry Barrett)


She uses a highly personal language that is emotional and symbolic yet it can still communicate successfully to the viewer.


In this instance the story of the person is vital in understanding the work and this is what I have struggled to do during this course. After the 2 years I still find it difficult to talk about my issues, and it was much easier for me to generalise by using symbolism and references to history and society.


In the DVD ‘Self-Portrait’ the art critic Laura Cummings says portraits contain “intimate truths… being the access to the inner self” and that they exposes the relationship between “the mind and eye”. This subject is perfect in revealing the emotional, internal journey of a person. When looking at the self-portrait it is interesting to see what the artist's experience says about the world surrounding her.



Cummings also talks about Frida Kahlo, saying she used self-portraiture as a voice to “campaign, protest and show her side of the story with feelings”.


When I watched Julie Taymor's film 'Frida' I was very aware of Kahlo's art being a visual diary, making works instantly in response to problems and this gave her work a rawness. I want to make work that responds to my life and hope that it will give it an authenticity that stems from experience. Circumstances can urge and motivate an artist to create work. I make art because it is a way to transcend and to deal with the problems encountered whether social or health related. I create it for personal reasons. But could it be relevant to an audience?...


A person's thoughts and response to the outside world can express the complex relationship between the individual and the other.


The above artists showed me that I can make social statements and also be very personal. To work with a certain kind of freedom and to say something sincere, are necessary aspects of my art.

'The Two Frida's', Frida Kahlo

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