The start of my polystyrene adventure.
Throughout the past few months since about October, the cubes and the polystyrene has been an important feature within my practice. It started as I wanted to make my installations and my work become more of an experience and a lot more striking than it originally was. To do this, I thought about adding some sculptural aspects. My original thought had been to use wood for this more sculptural approach. However, when I went down to the workshop in the art school to see what I could find, to my surprise there was a massive truckload of polystyrene. From here on in, I decided to learn how to work with the polystyrene. I thought it would be a lot easier than I first anticipated – but the material was a lot more compact, meaning it was merely a tricky thing to cut by hand. I learned how to use a hot wire to cut the polystyrene and this is what I did to create cubes and other geometrical forms.
Instantly when I realised how difficult it was to carve and cut the polystyrene, it made me want to destroy it by hand, by a human body in some shape or form. I wanted to make it difficult – much like the rest of my work. I like a challenge and something that will take a while to focus on and perhaps may physically ail me in the process. But it is all part of the work, and this is what is important.
It is not necessarily about the outcome but more about the process involved and how that creates another dimension to the work.
There was two main things I did with the little cubes. I created my little lines with black permanent marker onto the pure white walls of the object. As I have previously talked about these little lines are here to represent the everyday struggles and worries of myself, and people similar to myself- that these thoughts are what can cause the depression and anxiety – what fuels the monster within to create these overbearing notions. It may look simple at first but it takes a lot of work and determination to keep going and to create something that looks so simple yet so complex.
The second part I experimented with was painting the cube black – because lets be honest it was inevitable. Everything I get my hands on has to be painted black at least once. AT LEAST. The second part of the process was to reduce the blackness in a way? To reduce the darkness that is nothing but overwhelming and consuming and to literally scratch away at the surface. I used a small knife to cut into to polystyrene and take away part of the paint. I did this repeatedly and repeatedly to ensure that the full cube was covered in my little scratches. There are so many connotations that go along with this one especially. There is also this sense in the back of my mind that it reminds me of me. It reminds me of when I was at my lowest points and how I would cut and scratch myself to remove the darkness and the bad thoughts that I thought I had within me. It gave me the same sort of relaxation, in a way, to help me focus on something else.
To help me focus on the literal and physical pain of the cutting, rather than the mental and symbolical pain that I was feeling inside and that I could not explain.
There is also something nice about the process that the object has gone through. There are 3 main steps of the process.
1. It has gone through the making stage to become a cube. It is born.
2. Then the painting stage to make it black and dark.
3.Then the final stage to take away some of the paint, some of the darkness.
This is symbolic in the way of life. Or more along the lines of the way of depression or other similar mental health disorders. When I first became ill, i did not know what was happening to me. I always had this sort of weird vibe about me that people tended to avoid talking about or whatever. But the stages above are also similar to the early stages of when I was first diagnosed with clinical depression.
1.I had finally been told what was wrong with me and why I was so broken. I had finally learned the term ‘clinical depression’,’psychotic depression’ and anxiety. There was finally some names for all my problems (at the time). It is born.
2. This was the stage where I realised how disturbed I actually was. Through having a tough childhood I guess, it repressed some tough memories that were always there in the subconscious but no where near the conscious. This was the stage where it all began to become overwhelming and black and the darkness took over. There was no foreseeable future in my eyes at this present time.
3. The final stage, in hindsight was not the best way to handle such outcomes of course. But this is the part where I would cut myself to help relief me of the stress and sadness I may have been feeling that day. I would cu and cut and cut. But it wasn’t for the reasons that one may think. It helped me concentrate on something else rather than the crippling thoughts and emotions that were running through my mind. It helped me focus on the physical pain and the physical act of doing something rather than the confusing and overpowering thoughts and emotions that were going through my head. To me, it helped me get rid of some of that darkness. It was a way to help the darkness seep out of my body, seep out of those cuts or sometimes they would come running out of those cuts and scratches as fast as they could. This is the final stage to take away some of the pain, some of the darkness.