SHE – a narrative journey though acceptance of the mental struggle mindscape.

This is happening right now and I figured I better take some time to explain it and what I have been doing. At the moment, I am exhibiting a series of works 1.5 years in the making, but much longer in the dreaming. SHE is being exhibited at Gallery 4017 in Brisbane.

This exhibition tells the story of the way I moved through my mental struggle mindscape examining periods of overwhelm, anxiety, depression, disassociation, hope and acceptance. The statistics of mental health issues in Australia today are startlingly high. This one in particular,

“Over two in five Australians aged 16-85 years (43.7% or 8.6 million people) had experienced a mental disorder at some time in their life” (https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/mental-health/national-study-mental-health-and-wellbeing/2020-21)

requires a closer examination and discussion. I think that it is important to start discussions and continue to talk about these issues. I hope by shining a light on my own journey, I can take away some of the shame and blame that is placed on people in periods of mental health distress and make it easier for other people continue these valuable conversations.

SHE is an exhibition that looks at my journey of mental struggle through 12 pieces that form a narrative. Remember how in school, you would get those pictures you had to put in order, first to make complete sentences, then to develop stories? Well this is like that. Each piece on its own tells of a pivotal moment along the story and together they reveal my journey.

SHE was always this character. She was a wild child and expressed herself far better than I ever could. But she was also pain filled and angry and confused and overwhelmed. I hated her. I spent so much of my life ignoring her and trying to cut her out of me, that I completely overlooked the idea that if I acknowledged her and listened to her for a moment, took her hand and walked with her, that perhaps we could both find a better way through.

And that is basically what I learned to do through some painful therapy where I continued to draw this character in sketchbooks in order to express how I felt when my words failed me.

She never has a face or you never see her face, or her face is obscured in some way. I have had people comment on this before, but for me, it is akin to masking. We all mask to some degree. Every day. We hide the way we feel so we don’t disturb the social constructs. We don’t want to appear weird or out of control and also there is a lot of shame and blame placed on showing our emotions. I didn’t want people to think or see that I was out of control. I wanted to make their lives happier and better, and the way I felt was just depressing for everyone around me so I masked most of it. So, you will never tell from her face how she is feeling. As with people, you need to look deeper for clues.

A lot of the work is naive in style. I wanted it to be simple for the most part, like a child had done it. In a lot of ways, a child DID I guess. The palette is basic. It is overrulingly red, white and black. Everything else is overwhelmed by those colours as they often were in my mental mindscape. You will notice as I release descriptions of each of the pieces that I don’t stick to any one type of media. It doesn’t suit me and it certainly didn’t suit my mental state. I found that when I was stuck in my creative practice, the best thing I could do was switch it up and try something else. So each of the pieces I have put out there is in the medium I chose that felt the most, “right” for what I was doing.

I won’t put any of the photos in here just yet of the series in order. I will leave that until after the exhibition because it kind of spoils the experience to see them altogether, but here are the titles in order.

  1. She was so little – Hand coloured etching
  2. She Won’t Say a Word – Acrylic painting
  3. She Wanted to be Seen – Mixed media sculptural painting
  4. She Fell – Hand coloured lino print
  5. She Struggled – hand coloured lino print
  6. She Worried – Mixed media sculpture
  7. She Floated – Ink drawing
  8. She Held On – Mixed media sculptural painting
  9. She Reached – Mixed media sculptural painting
  10. She dreamed – Ink drawing
  11. She Wanted To Be a Part of That World Again – Virtual photography
  12. She Was Real – Digital Photography

I will also be releasing blog posts on each of the pieces over the next couple of weeks as the exhibition progresses. I hope I see you there and if I don’t and you are reading this, I hope you find something here that makes you think about and question the way we see, react to and treat mental health and mental struggle.

Please do know that if you need help, crisis support is available

24 hours, 7 days

Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

or check out some of these links…

Beyond Blue https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

Black Dog Institute https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/

And this is also a really good article by Australia Counselling outlining different mental health resources in Australia and what they do https://www.australiacounselling.com.au/top-mental-health-organisations/

It’s time for a new exhibition!

See you there!

All artworks from the exhibition will be for sale both online here and in the gallery.

Prints and stickers will be on sale on the event night of the exhibition at the gallery and online here thereafter.

Linden & Resident Second Life Snowball Fight 2020

Really need to attend this. It is heaps of fun every year!!

Daniel Voyager

The Linden & Resident Snowball Fight event for 2020 will be officially happening on Friday 18th December in two parts in Second Life. The event will be held at the Winter Wonderland regions and it’s going to be amazing. This is a great opportunity to throw plenty of snowballs at Lindens and Residents.

  • 1st Session – 10am to 11am SLT/PST
  • 2nd Session – 2pm to 3pm SLT/PST

Here are some details about the event.

Get in the winter spirit for the most epic snowball fight in Second Life. Come with a group of friends and meet new people – either way, you’re sure to have a blast as you toss snowballs at other Residents and even Lindens! Event held December 18th at 10am to 11am PST and another one at 2pm to 3pm PST.

Check out this event via the official Second Life Public Calendar for more Linden related events…

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GBTH x Rachel Breaker – Duality of Love: THEY

GBTH is putting on some seriously good installations. This particular one was excellent. I found it while wandering the streets of the GBTH sim after checking out Swallow by Vincent Priesley, and was met by emotion after emotion.

GBTH x Rachel Breaker
GBTH x Rachel Breaker “Duality of Love: They” Sketch Wall

Set out on the footpath, “Duality of Love : They”, depicts love in its many forms through digital sculptures. This exhibition that is also an installation is a beautiful example of complex simplicity. Each of the sculptures look like they are made of simple prims which is a naive creative choice that enhances the cohesiveness and impact of the installation.

GBTH x Rachel Breaker
(l to r) Serra Qendra: Perpetual Head Stroke Mmm,  Grady Echegaray: Love in the Time of War, Spectacled Chic: You Could Make My Heart Bloom, Lena Kiopaik: Anyone and No-one, Vally Lavender: Conflict, TW, Deity

The diversity of the couples in the crowd are beautiful and joyful, thoughtful and thought provoking. It really makes you consider the different ways of loving or being loved but also the ways in which love can be used as a manipulation of power.

GBTH x Rachel Breaker
(l to r) Aequitas: Untitled, Absinthe Holloway: Love is Love, Fiona Fei: Untitled, Lash: An Angel Sent.

Some of the sculptures also hold powerful social and political messages. I am one of those people who believe that in this time when being an artist is so undervalued,  making art in and of itself is a political act. I also believe that art can be an important tool for inspiring social and political change, so I am genuinely thrilled that artists here were not afraid to make statements on their pieces in order to inform and provoke thoughts and discussion.

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There is so much more to be said about this installation and on one of my visits I was incredibly fortunate to run into both Rachel Breaker and Marina Munter, the creative collaborators behind it all. I am so very grateful for the time they spent chatting with me about the ideas and process behind it all…but for all that information, you are going to have to check out the video that will be released next week!

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(l to r) Marina Munter, Rachel Breaker and Mangrovejane Resident.

SLurl: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/the%20GBTH%20project/118/150/42

Swallow by Vincent Priesley at the GBTH Project

Swallow Exhibit Vincent Priesley 1a cropshadow resize4mp 08042020I had a moment to pop into Second Life today and visit and installation by Vincent Priesley at the GBTH Project. It has been awhile since I have visited an online installation and I am pleased to say I was not disappointed. “Swallow” is a marvellously surreal piece that invites you to literally be swallowed by a monster dredged up from the psych of Priesley.

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It is an installation of words and imagery that pulls you through and invites you to look…and look again while all the time standing in a slightly disturbing landscape of an imaginary digestive system.

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Modernist artworks line the insides of the monsters…abstractions of loved ones represented through reliefs and cutout figures that have a naive, childlike and a little uncanny air about them.

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The mesh textures with advanced lighting on are truly a sensory experience while not at all slowing down the frame rate. I was truly impressed by the realism of the landscape I recommend that if you have a spare 10 minutes, pop on down to Swallow and check it out.

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SLURL:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/the%20GBTH%20project/164/93/48

Change

 

It’s coming…I can hear it whispering in my ears and pushing me with impatient hands.

“It’s time,” it says…”You have wallowed enough and it is time to get up.”

I listen…and I agree.

What is coming next dear friends?

Let’s find out…

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It has been a whole hot minute…

Mmhmmm…It sure has. The short story is this…I needed some time after I finished my degree to process things and just sit in the quiet for awhile and feel everything that I had stomped down into a deep dark corner of myself so I could get through the crazy work schedule I was trying to get through. The climb back from that deep dark corner is arduous. It’s a process, ok? But I’m getting there. And today, I felt like writing a blog post. There’s going to be some rambling and some generally terrible sentence structure, but we are gonna get through this together!

I have been taking a holiday from my Second Life. That last 6 months of my degree was INTENSE. I was in a constant state of panic and work overload. It was rough. I look back over the vlog scripts I have written from that time and I can FEEL the anxiety and the stress all over again. Even when I finished, that stayed with me for quite some time and I blamed myself for friendships in world that went wrong and I let my impostor syndrome get the better of me. Despite my successes, I felt like I had let everyone down and I couldn’t face anyone else when I thought so badly about myself. Pretty crappy thought process right?? Yup…so that is ENOUGH of that…

Throughout those moments though, I have had some people who constantly touched base and checked in. I have talked about a couple of them so many times they are regular features on my blogs and vlogs. My incredible physical world friend Cath, who has journeyed with me for years through all the times, good, bad and indifferent. We have laughed and cried and talked through our lives through many hours and many coffees and many wines. We have adventured and fallen and gotten up time and again.

My wonderful friend and fellow artist Elyse, who I had the great fortune to meet during the first semester of this course. We learned and complained and stressed and graduated together. Now we remember and commiserate but mostly, we minecraft and laugh and dream big dreams about what comes next in our artistic lives together.

My friends, Pete and Extrepid, who I met online in vanilla World of Warcraft. They stuck with me all this time and through all these years, making me smile with their damn awful Dad jokes and astounding me with their wisdom and thoughts.

And you all know the lovely Mondrian, my favourite fox friend and fellow Second Life Artist. We were doing our postgrad studies at the same time and now we have finished at the same time, he is one of the few people who really GETS what I am going through. He’s the sweetest, kindest, most talented, lovely guy and I just adore him.

Mondrian and me 11082018_001

And of course you also all know the reticent Wavie Haller who I am going to say NOTHING good about because he gets all embarrassed and gruff and it’s really not as cute as you’d think.

The Vordun with Wavie 1024x768

But I am not sure you know Freya of the store Hilted. I have chatted to Freya on and off for a little while. I have a lot of respect for the work she does, but for me, that is not enough to keep a conversation going with anyone. I am pretty quiet in SL for many reasons and even though I tell people its because I work a lot…which I do…but between us, its mostly because I just am afraid of being vulnerable. I tell people that I’m GREAT at making acquaintances, terrible at making friends.

But today I found myself talking with Freya for WAY longer than I had expected to. Half an hour turned into 2 and a half hours and it was only with regret that I left that conversation. I felt like smiling and thinking about those tentative firsts of friendships and how they might lead somewhere incredible and comfortable. For the first time in a long time, I left SL feeling inspired and looking forward to returning. Its a really nice feeling. I love that about creative people, that they are inspiring and their passions and enthusiasm for their creativity rubs off on you. So tonight, when I had the chance, I worked on this photo…

Who are you Mangrovejane?

What the heck is happening in this photo? (Pose) Ana poses – Jiufen; (Head) Akeruka Lulu; (Body) Maitreya Lara; (Hair) Tableau Vivant Faux Dreads; (Shirt) Vinyl Lambert Tunic; (Jeans) Vinyl Blake Skinny Cuff Jeans; (Shoes) Bueno Seattle Boots

And it felt good. It felt like coming home. It reminded me that sometimes we feel like we are standing alone, and sometimes we may be lost and searching for a way. Sometimes we may be afraid of the next steps and unsure of where to place our feet. But if we take a breath and open our eyes, we will see there are hands holding ours and not letting go and if we listen, there are gentle voices whispering kindness and encouragement.

It is here, in the journey back from the deep dark corners, I find today while remembering these splendid people, that the way back is a little less arduous and my step is a little lighter and I am hopeful again for a better tomorrow.

Vlogblog Week 4 (Week Ending 23/08/2019) It’s EXHIBITION time!

WOW WOW WOW!!! SO much happened this week. SO many feels. It was an emotional roller coaster and it was CRAZY. So let’s have a look at what actually happened shall we???

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Monday was install day and it was a HUGE one. 9 hours of installing, fiddling, changing things up, moving things around, hanging photos and switching photos and STRESSING. There were of course technical difficulties. All week. My whole week was plagues with technical difficulties but now I look back, each day small progress was made to fix these. One thing at a time. Monday was also the day I realised how much support I had and how many people were in my corner. My supervisor came multiple times during the day and was there at the very end of my day (which was actually 9 o’clock at night!!).

Tuesday I made a connection with a possible lead to a group exhibit with UQ next year. Wednesday and Thursday saw the lighting guys come in and light the place up perfectly and also with me taking a chance and replacing some of my photos with one large self portrait.

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Alison James, 2019, Smoke and Mirrors. Digital Print

Friday FINALLY saw the end of my technical issues in the form of a colleague, Andy who spent quite a bit of time helping me out and teaching me things. At so, at the end of the week, it has been quite the journey, but things are looking up. I’m looking forward to next week being a lot easier and a lot less of an emotional roller coaster. As always though, if you would like to hear the full story of this weeks adventures, check out the VLOG I have embedded above or check it out on my Youtube channel!

Oh and one last thing before I go…CONSIGNMENT FURNITURE, sponsors of my installation sim and patron of the arts. They have things. Things you need. Also things you don’t need. But you are gonna want them any way, so CHECK ‘EM OUT! #bestadsever #yourewelcomewavie

Sponsored by Consignment 1title_001

VlogBlog Week 3 (Week Ending 16/08/2019) Time for Installation Practice

Here we are…Week 3 and this week was all about the installation practice. Some issues came up for me during this practice that really made me rethink what I was doing and how I was doing it. I stressed a lot about whether to take my computer in to the gallery next week for a number of reasons:

  1. Security and Privacy. Could someone find a way to get into my private spaces or even steal the computer while I wasn’t there?
  2. User error. It’s WAY to easy to break someone’s stuff without really realising you have done it.
  3. Is it going to feel too much like work? We often associate computers with work, and lets face it…SL IS a lot of work some days and a steep learning curve.
  4. Logistics. If I am unwilling to leave it in the gallery for security reasons, how do I get my large desktop computer into the gallery and back everyday without it costing me a fortune in parking?
  5. People downloading stuff I don’t want on my computer. By accident or design, I don’t want things being downloaded onto my computer that I don’t want there.

So that is it in a nutshell, as usual, if you want the whole story, check out the VLOG embedded above or on my Youtube channel!

And one last thing…Consignment Furniture…Looks like a Junkyard…but the furniture and stuff is awesome. #totallysponsoredmyinstallation #myadsarethebest #yourewelcomewavie

Sponsored by Consignment 1title_001

VlogBlog Week 2 (Week ending 09082019)

Yup…I’m still catching up on my weekly VlogBlogs and the VLogs themselves. Week 3 is about to come out on the Youtubes, so I figured I better get on and get this one out before I get completely out of sync with them all.

OK First…I changed the name of this blog series…because honestly, they are the blogs…of the vlogs and therefore VLOGBLOGS. Yes I am that type of person who hates it when people write “Your” when they really mean “You’re”. Totally triggers me and the name of the blog series was triggering me and now I’ve changed it. So…there.

Also…Consignment Furniture. Sponsors of my SL Installation. Patron of the Arts. Generally awesome stuff. You should check ’em out. These ads are basically the best. Consignment Furniture. You’re welcome Wavie.

COnsignment1

And now all that is over, what actually happened this week? Well…I visited the Psychologist, skipped class to pick up my youngest daughter from school (#momlife right?), thought a whole lot about next week’s installation practice, then examined the idea of visual exemplars, who a few of mine are (both in RL and SL) and why. I took a photo in SL, did some landscaping on the installation sim, my computer had a psychedelic meltdown, spent quite a bit of time on Skillshare watching photography videos and then took THIS awesome photo in my backyard playing with depth of field….

orchid and steps
Alison James, 2019, Orchid and Steps.

So that was my week in a nutshell. If you want to hear about it in more detail, check out the VLOG version that I have embedded above for your viewing convenience or even better go check it out and like it up on my Youtube channel!

Handy Dandy References:
Consignment Furniture SLurl: https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Consignment/61/133/32
Consignment Furniture Marketplace Store https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/150383
AES+F Website https://aesf.art/
Hito Steyerl|NGV https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/hito-steyerl/
Personal photos of Self Portrait (Andy Warhol) and Drowning Girl (Roy Lichtenstein) taken at the NGV by Alison James
Skillshare http://www.skillshare.com