Can mindfulness be communicated through art?

As I come close to the end of my MA Fine Art course, I am preparing to exhibit the pieces I have made in response to the proposal I wrote at the end of 2015.

Over the course of 2016 I have read widely about mindfulness and mental illness and it began to influence the work I was doing.   An artists work is very often autobiographical and provides a theraputic outlet for the practitioner and so it is with me.   But as well as working through my own issues, I wanted to illustrate the benefits I have felt from learning mindfulness and learning to be fully present in my life.

“It is only when we are awakened that we realise how much of our lives we’ve actually slept through” – Ellen Langer (Dhiman, 2012)

The project started with an exploration of the liminal – liminal spaces in our environments and our minds.   Liminal spaces are places of change and can be dangerous; hence, they are an apt metaphor for the spaces in our minds we are scared to cross.   As part of the first tranche of research, I was interested in these scary places; the ideas and thoughts we avoid and use displacement activities to continue to avoid thinking about.    I wanted to explore and convey what this felt like, using a range of media.

As the project progressed, the main question moved from ‘what does liminality feel like?’  To ‘what does mindfulness feel like?’    Mindfulness a fashionable concept, but what is it and can it help calm our frantic minds?    Eventually, having experienced the benefits of being more mindful myself, the question became “How can the benefits of mindfulness be conveyed to an audience via the medium of artistic practice?“.

As someone who sees feelings and experiences as colours and images (I am synesthetic in some areas), I was keen to encapsulate the colour, shape, feel and benefits of being present.

My art is aimed at anyone who has a curiosity to learn more about themselves and is open to ideas of how they could alleviate some of their angst.   I hope that the audience will take from it a willingness to learn more and perhaps to explore further themselves.   Mindfulness is in a strange position, at one mainstream and yet still considered alternative and ‘weird’.   My aim is to demystify some of that weirdness and show that being present is essential to our mental well-being.

Through my work, in varying genres, I aim to illustrate the feeling of; and opportunities for; being mindful.

Below is a gallery of shots of some of my work.   The exhibition ran at Action Stations, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard from 20th August to 2nd September 2016.

Pieces that were exhibited included digital art, photography, painting, video and an electronic, interactive artwork (run using Raspberry Pi’s) which was awarded a special commendation for the John Barable New Media Award, University of Portsmouth.

Learn more

A previous post of mine from February 2016 and from Tara Brach – brilliant talks and meditations.

 

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