Research – Front Row Late

One of the key factors I got from watching Front Row Late – in which they discussed anxiety within art and literature, was who do artists and writers create their work for. And more importantly what does the audience get from the work. I found that something that was often repeated throughout the discussed was how it gives those struggling from mental health a way in, if they feel the can’t talk or discuss it with those around them. This is important message within my work as I want people to be able to relate to it.

Within the programme they spoke with Matt Haig who wrote Reasons to Stay Alive in 2015. What I found most interesting is when he was asked who wrote to book for – in which he replied it was his younger self. I have said through the MA course that the projects and work I create is personal to me and acts a form of therapy in helping me understand and manage my anxiety. He also claims that it was women who mostly purchased his book but often for somebody who they were concerned about. Another thing I found interesting was when he discussed the title of his book. He states that he knew he always wanted to call the book ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’, yet reflects on the fact that a lot of people would not want to walk into a book store and ask for a book with that title. I find it interesting that he proceeded to call it this, even though it may effect the sales. I have not yet named the title of my project, but after hearing what Haig says about his, I will reflect on my own title more. I am debating if I would name the project something shocking that will draw people in or something a bit more open, that doesn’t straight away make people realise the project is about mental health. Since watching the programme I have purchased the book myself, and will do a blog post about it once I have finished reading it.

Something that I have not researched properly into but is something that I now intend to do more of since watching the show, is looking at how anxiety and mental health has been portrayed I art throughout history, not just in a contemporary context. Within the programme they discussed The Scream by Edvard Munch and how it has stayed so relevant to this day. One of the most important statements for me came from Scarlett Curtis who said ‘He is really is expressing the invisible in something visible and also vaguely personified’. She goes onto say how what many artists try to do is to visually represent things that cannot be seen. Shahidha Bari talks about how the landscape within the painting is just as important as the man himself and how the background being distorted represents the world screaming and not only a singular person. It made me question my role as an artist and how I represent my own personal issues with mental health and the responsibility that comes with doing that. They went onto to discuss contemporary art which discusses mental health and how it can be guilty of forcing an idea onto its audiences. This is something that I am cautious of throughout my work and is why I want the video I produce to not initially talk about mental health issues directly, but in a more subconscious way.

Published by kirstypowellphotography

Photographer based in the South West

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