Breathe. Moments of personal contemplation, captured periods of mediation. The sound of the waves inspiring images that capture time and motion, that are a step removed from the photographic image and into painterly images that can be interpreted differently by an individuals viewpoint, experiences and memories.
Much of my previous work revolves around the theme of mental health and raising awareness of mental health conditions including depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and PTSD. This work has been based on either my own or other people’s lived experiences of mental illness and with every project I do, whether relaying my own experiences or someone else’s, it has a significant negative impact on my own health. My intention is and always has been to explore coping strategies, experiences which have a positive impact on mental illness. I considered abandoning the mental health theme with this project, but it is something I am incredibly passionate about. I have continued the theme by exploring ideas around positive state of mind, relaxation and alleviating symptoms.
Many people use meditation or relaxation techniques to deal with stress. My own personal method is spending time outside in nature, among the trees, up a mountain, in a forest, by the sea. There has been a great deal of research that suggests that the outdoors and nature have a huge positive impact on mental health: so significant that the psychotherapeutic practice EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is based on the idea that the movement of trees and water in the wind has a relaxing effect and this can be simulated in a medical setting to reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts. EMDR therapy was developed by Francine Shapiro in 1988.
For me EMDR had no positive effect and talking to therapists, psychologists and those who have undergone treatment, the anecdotal evidence is that EMDR is no more or less effective than any other treatment. However, this does not take away from my own personal observations that being by the sea, watching the waves, being outside, the sound and smells of the environment all have a positive effect on mental health and stress levels.
Throughout this year long project, I have created contemplative works, often during long periods of mental anguish, loneliness and anxiety, all symptoms of complex PTSD attributed to my military career. The project consists of a large body of work that includes still images, video and sound.
The project also pushes the boundaries of my own work towards what I would consider ‘Art’ while maintaining the boundaries dictated by the medium of photography. In recent years I have considered in depth, where my work and photography sit in the art world.
During this project I have strived to create work that I felt I could call art.