The enduring theme of my work seems to be how people are affected by their circumstances and their environment, and how this impacts our quality of life and our health. My work reflects on how the ebb and flow of life changes our state of mind and the fact that this can have deep, far-reaching and irreversible effects on individuals and, more importantly, on the planet.
I currently find myself intrigued by what heals us as people. I am connecting to a theme I explored deeply in my Masters thesis, centering on the medicinal uses of plants and the rituals around healing our bodies and minds. The suicide of a friend lead me to contemplate mental health issues – deeply. I wonder why mental health is something we hide, something that seems shrouded in shame?
It has been a personally devastating experience to finally realise how silent and lethal the depression and anxiety killer is. Yet mental health issues remain hidden behind a façade of polite conversation, social queues and etiquette that says we are not allowed to talk about these issues with our friends at parties and picnics.
I consciously use my art making as a way to calm me down and reduce my trauma. When I make art, I feel a peacefulness come over me – the intensity of the process absorbs me and forces me to focus my mind. If I lose focus, the pieces simply do not fit together.
What I am wondering is: can the feelings I get when I make the work – calmness, euphoria, enjoyment and peace, be transferred off the page to the viewer? In other words, can my work act as a medicine for the brain? Can the experience of looking at my work act as a calming agent to the viewer? Can art be medicine?
I hope this body of work can help people to connect with their own feelings of joy, peace and stillness. I also hope the work raises awareness of how much still needs to be done in South Africa to combat the stigma attached to mental health.
When people look at my work, what I hope they experience is joy, upliftment and the feeling that there is hope.