Layer after layer after layer.
Generally, my work has lots of layers. This just happens instinctively. It all started from when I was just working away in the studio and then this sort of construction became apparent within the work. I am still unsure why, but I will take a stab at figuring it out. I guess the layers could symbolise the different thoughts and worries and struggles that go through my mind every day. Although most people have daily worries and struggles, the difference between them and myself is that mine take over and become unmanageable – the overwhelming acticity. The problem with having numerous mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder – is that it is always there. It always a struggle, even when it is a good day. The layers are all these thoughts and feelings and emotions piling over one another, trying to fight their way to be heard. Even if it is an absurd and seemingly random thought, it wants to be heard. It is like an argument within ones mind, conflicting thoughts and emotions constantly shouting over each other wanting the limelight trying to be heard – and in the end this all just becomes a big, loud and confusing mess. It is hard to follow only one of these thoughts. Sometimes the thought might be as simple as “oh, I need to remember to put the washing on tonight”; or something more complex and seemingly out of the blue. These worries can accumulate and just become too overwhelming. With having depression it can slow me down, making me not want to get out of bed, just be in my own little bubble under my blanket all day. However, anxiety and my OCD do the opposite. They make me stressed for feeling depressed. It makes me want to have to do everything and make sure everything is in the correct order, neatly placed and organised with both physical things and also symbolical things. The conflicting associates of these issues, is what causes the problems – I think.
ANYWAY, the layers within in my work are to produce these sort of thoughts and show how they are just piling over each other over and over again. It is the repetition of doing and having these problems every day. The repetition of having to do things in a particular way or particular time otherwise it’ll have a meltdown effect on my brain. Another reason that makes the layers an important part of my work is something I did not notice until recently. Like I mentioned before, since I have numerous mental health conditions, this has caused some repressed memories from when I was a child. These memories are there but in the subconscious part of the brain. Recently, some parts have started to come forward. I remembered when I was about 15 or 16, ready to sit exams in high school I was trying to think of a way to motivate myself to not fail. In having these thoughts I bought post-it-notes, books and books of them, I don’t even know how many. On these post-it-notes I wrote FAIL, STUPID, DIE in big black permanent marker on these notes and stuck them all over my room covering every inch of the wall so that all the eye could see was post-it-notes. Like I said, this only came to me rather recently and I made that connection with the layering of my work and how I had used these little notes to myself when I was struggling through a tough time. In hindsight, this did not help me in the long run but for a while it did help me feel de-cluttered and a lot less stressed as I had something to focus on that was going to make something brand new, it was something that I would look at every day and hoping that it would make me feel better (better in the way that I would study). I was also very peculiar about my room, I didn’t like people coming in there in case they messed anything up, moved something from its place or just generally made fun of it (I don’t know why, it was just a normal teenagers bedroom – all be it tidy). So, I remember when someone did come into my room after the post-it-note fiasco, it was my uncle who was visiting from England and he did not say anything. He just stood in awe, slowly glancing from wall to wall, then to me and back from wall to wall. He was overwhelmed by such madness- I guess you could say. The look on his face was exactly what I want to try and achieve now – to a certain extent. I am not as ill as I was at the time (nowhere near it) but that reaction is what people should think about mental health. It is a serious condition(s) and not to be looked at lightly.
I want my work to be overwhelming to viewers, something that they cannot escape. Something that is going to make them stop and think. Not necessarily think about mental health but think about something that is deep and meaningful to the individual. It is something that cannot be escaped from – my work. It is got to be in your face because mental health is forgotten about and I want to push forward the idea of getting such illnesses accepted. The overwhelming nature of my work is also to mirror the overwhelming nature that I, and many many others, experience from day to day life. Although to most it does not seem like it. On the surface, I am fine. Everyone thinks that I am a bubbly and outgoing person – where in fact I am sometimes crippled by my anxiety or just feel sad or down or stressed for no apparent reason. It is a daily struggle that many people live with and this is what I want to change. I want to change the way people look at depression, and other mental illnesses. It is not easy – far from it. It is one of the most difficult things a human can deal with – and the fact that other humans think it is make believe is a factor that makes it even more difficult.