Hi! I’m Ellie.
I am a Fine Art with Art History student living in Aberystwyth. I have a passion for capturing beauty in its many forms, whether that be through Drawing, Painting, or most recently printmaking. My subject usually encompasses natural forms, animals and whatever I conceive as beautiful and worthy of capturing.
In this Project I am hoping to explore the many ways in capturing the beauty and serenity of animals, as well as exploring the ways in which we as Humans are disturbing them, with many species resulting in extinction. Ultimately, I hope to be able to express that visually in different forms.
I made the last minute decision to adopt this interdisciplinary module after not feeling any inspiration nor overall interest in my initial chosen module. After researching more into this project, I was almost immediately sure I wanted to embrace this module, as I love and appreciate nothing more than the animals that surround us and inhabit our planet. This particular stimulus, ‘Animals’ is a subject that is extremely close to my heart at this very point in time, as unfortunately my cat died last week. I had only had him for around 5 years, he was young, full of excitement and life, to say I was ultimately heartbroken is still an understatement. Knowing that something I loved so much was suffering in pain is a thought I just cannot comprehend, knowing that I can’t do anything to bring him back.
He was my best friend. I know for some people, having an animal as a best friend is a ridiculous thought, but Angus was different. As a kitten he only ate his food if he saw me and only me making it. He would only lie on my bed, play in my room and let me stroke and play with him, we developed a relationship that I know I will never experience with another animal again. I missed the first week of Mirandas class due to the switch in modules, therefore I took this week to grieve and mourn, but to also embrace the happiness Angus brought to my life, somewhat celebrating his life instead of thinking back.
I thought I’d include some images of my cat here so that anyone and everyone is able to adore and appreciate his life along with me;
My mother and I had always said that he resembles a Scottish wildcat. His fur was abnormally soft for the average cat, as well as the length of his whiskers, features found on the Scottish wildcats. I then decided to conduct some research into Scottish wildcats and a few of my other favourite wildcats. I had always considered myself one of those ‘dog people’, a very controversial topic amongst avid pet owners, that was until Angus had entered my life. He was a reward for my studies for GCSE, he helped me through my toughest times, to put it simply, he was himself my therapy, a way of controlling my stress and anxiety in ways that I will never understand or be able to myself. He was the best thing in my life, the thing I looked forward to seeing when I woke up in the morning, the last living being I saw before I went to sleep. Hopefully, researching and understanding these different types of cats I feel personally awaken myself to see the world through their preying eyes.
These cats are incredible. Once found across the whole of Britain, these cats are now subjected to being found in the Scottish Highlands. I’m infactuated with their long, elegant whiskers and tortoise shell fur, resembling Angus almost exactly. These cats can grow to up to a metre long, with their territories covering at least 25km. They’re incredibly intelligent creatures, as they don’t like hunting and moving in open ground, they’ll use streams, hedges and also roads to move around. It is known for these cats to only live for around 2-3 years, their death usually a result of disease, unwanted traffic and most unfortunate, accidental persecution.
I was saddened by the fact that these cats are like many, becoming an endangered species, with only around 300 left in the wild, compared to the 100,000+ domestic cats that we encounter in our everyday life. These cats were once hunted for their elusive fur, as deforestation, us Humans needs for trees also killed off a large population of these peaceful creatures. I cannot explain the misfortune and frustration I feel knowing that Humans are responsible for uncountable species extinctions, as well as extinction within species is happening a thousand times more quickly because of humans.
Another wildcat that is close to extinct is the Iberian Lynx, more commonly known than the Scottish Wildcat. The Lynx is the most endangered cat in the world, with fewer than 100 cats in the wild in 2002. Due to the emphasis on keeping this species live, there are now around 400 cats today, though with numbers still declining.
Once again the reason for endangerment are manmade, from the selfishness and thoughtless humans as their habitat is threatened by illegal farms, wells, as well as gas extraction that contribute to the pollution of their water. They are usually found, but are extremely rare, in the most rural and remote parts os Spain.
The lynx is well known for its superb hunting skills. their stealthy and agile nature allows them to hunt easily, usually rabbits, making up 90% of their diet. To this day, illegal poaching and careless driving is still the largest threat to these harmonious cats.
–More reflection- Expressing and visualising my feelings and emotions–
All I wanted to do the week was to shut myself out from the outside world, from absolutely everything. I wanted to turn off my phone, my laptop, to lie in bed and cry. I knew I couldn’t do this, I knew I had to remove myself from that situation. One thing I have been doing recently is visualising my emotions onto paper or any material, painting, scribbling, drawing, adding colour, no colour, depending entirely on my mood at the time, anything that allows me to visualise my feelings in front of me. Therefore I decided to sit down, listen to some of my favourite music and ultimately visualise my emotions.
Here is the outcome;
Picture of outcome
Here are just a few of my favourite songs I listened to whilst creating the piece above;
These songs give me goosebumps every time time I hear them, each for different reasons. They elevate my feelings to a different level. They are all individually uplifting yet equally alleviating and consoling. I especially related to the lyrics in shake it out by Florence and The Machine as she expresses multiple times to “shake it out”.
“like to keep my issues strong
It’s always darkest before the dawn” – I can relate to these lyrics on another personal level. The past week has been filled with complete darkness, with no hope of light. I have always been told that “Time is a healer” and exercising my emotions through music and expressive mark making has helped me realise that its completely okay to take time to grieve and mourn, to concentrate on the present, harnessing and visualising the many waves of feelings and emotions that I experience in that very moment. I hope to explore multiple different and artistic ways to apprehend these waves.
1st Personal Tutorial;
I feel a massive sense of clarity after meeting with Miranda for my first tutorial. We had a relaxed discussion about where I want this project to take me as well as how I would be hoping to succeed. Before going into this tutorial, I personally felt like I hadn’t decided on any particular idea, but I now understand completely how to develop my thoughts and ideas further. I explained how my cat had died a few weeks ago now, and how I wanted this project to include that, I just hadn’t decided how. Miranda and I then agreed that during these next few weeks I should revolve my project around my cat and expressing and choosing a way of visualising the waves of my feelings and emotions of grief and I now have to accept what has happened.
We then discussed some possible ways in which I could possibly exert my waves of emotions into something physical. Some ideas included clay moulding, manipulating and utilising my hair and face, and also painting, drawing and scribbling onto a surface, ultimately encompassing the idea of closing my eyes and allowing my hands to create a unique outcome based on the particular wave of feeling at the time.
“Finding the simplest channel between mind and hand”
This idea of finding a way of creating an outcome in the simplest yet most effective way possible, being able to capture and visual my emotional wave at that very time, being able to work with my grief and harness it into something artistic . We decided on the idea that I had quickly explored in week 1. The idea of creating one painting everyday, on a small, square canvas, using Acrylic paint and expressive mark making and colours. A few other aspects mentioned were considering where I would make these paintings. I explained to miranda how I made the previous painting based on my emotions in my small studio located outside my house, surrounded by nature and natural forms, we agreed this would be the best location to continue creating my paintings. As well as being aware of the type of music I listen to when competing these outcomes. I’ve decided I will harness my emotional waves onto one canvas per day, starting when my supplies arrive.
Finally, after finishing the tutorial, I knew that all I want to do during this project is to allow my creativity to soar, to not be controlling, to not always make quick, precise decisions. I am a person who always needs to be in control of my mind and body, my recent interest in meditation allows me to control these emotional waves and harness them into something physical. I would like to explore the idea of creating these paintings and then removing myself from those emotions and placing myself into a clear mindset, ready for a session of meditation.
Here are the Notes I took from the Tutorial;
This lecture has opened my eyes immensely to the parallels our our life as humans and the life of an animal. The only thing I could think about when watching this film is how clearly these animals were speaking to me personally, even through a film. The scene where the large animal was stood on the road, with cars upon cars piling up behind it. I cannot explain how much I empathised with the animal. It looked completely and utterly scared, uncomfortable and overly petrified. Personally, I just wanted to weep in sorrow. I felt its emotions absolutely. We as humans are invading their habitat, their home. I always imagine what it would be like if it was the other way around, if we as humans had scary vehicles and large, obnoxious figures invading our homes and land, we would undoubtedly be terrified. This documentary was the most thought provoking piece of television I have ever watched. It made me feel anger, frustration and actually disappointment, in ways in which I never thought I could comprehend.
It provoked the idea of our higher thoughts, our higher awareness. We think of animals and humans as being different entirely, where in reality they are no less deserving go life than us. What actually separates us from animals? Not a lot, if anything.
“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”―James Herriot
I keep circling back to this quote by James Herriot. There are numerous evil, heartless humans in this world, it is impossible for us to say this about any animal. They love and care in ways which humans will never understand.
Notes from the Lecture;
A Stream of Consciousness
This week I have tried to harness my feelings of grief and loss into physical and artistic outcomes, ultimately creating my visual stream of consciousness. Similar the experiment I undertook in my first week, id like to carry this idea on, harnessing and visualising my emotional waves into an artistic outcome, on my chosen surface and medium. I favour Acrylic paint and canvas surface as these are materials that are known to me, I feel comfort in using, familiar and safe, elements I need to make use of within my emotional state as of now. Experimenting with new materials is not a comfortable idea, familiarity is comfort. I’ve also decided I would give a title, a name, a sense of “being” to my conscious outcomes.
Like I mentioned, I would also listen to a playlist of music whilst completing these canvases, I still feel immense grief and sadness. The playlist reflects my feelings completely. The lyrics of each song I listen to has meaning, understanding, I can relate in ways which I could never before. Ideas and themes of loss, regret, grief, all emotions that are running through my mind and body, my soul. I feel like the music allows my emotional wave to emigrate from my head to the canvas, more so than without musical influence, leaving me with just my subconscious thoughts.
-wake me up when September ends – Green Day
This song has a much deeper, sentimental meaning to me. The lyrics speak to me like no other, they relate to me on every level, every emotion;
–“The innocent can never last”–
Angus was the epitome of innocence. He wasn’t like other cats, he didn’t spend his days hunting down birds, mice, other small beings. He spent his days cuddled up on the sofa, wrapped in a warm, safe ball, distant from harms way. This world didn’t deserve him, he was too innocent for our harmful, careless, thoughtless world, Heaven, the spirits above called upon him, they needed another angel.
-“As My memory rests”-
All I have now are memories. Memories of all our magical and special times together. It’s important to allow myself to grieve, to mourn the loss of a loved one, a living being that I considered my best friend, my soulmate. I was lucky enough to find this in an animal. Many people struggle to find this in another person, but I found this within Angus, a bond that will remain unbroken for eternity.
Tears in Heaven- Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton wrote this song about his four year old boy, Conor, who fell to his death from a 53rd-floor window of a New York City apartment, belonging to a family friend. His lyrics resinate with me, I can ultimately sympathise with his loss and grief, perhaps not on the same level, but the emotions are prominent.
“I must be strong
And carry on”
These lyrics relate to my situation entirely. I keep telling myself I have to be strong, I have to keep my mind focused. On the other hand, I believe its okay to sit and cry, its okay to not want to leave my bed, my space. Why should I have to force myself to be okay? what good will that do me and my mental health in the long run? I know I will be okay, but time is a healer, and right now, what I need now more than anything is time.
There’s peace, I’m sure
And I know there’ll be no more
Tears in heaven
I know there’s peace within me, I just need to find it. Finding it comes through accepting what has happened, his death. I have to accept it, accepting it is part of healing, healing takes time. I am putting no time stamp, no pressure on myself to heal, to accept and move forward. I will never understand why his death happened, what I did to deserve this pain? this loss? Why am I being punished?
I’ve added a few songs to my current playlist–
Ive listed a few of my favourite songs at the moment, based on their lyrics, rhythm and overall feeling it gives me. I listen to these when I’m sad. when I’m happy, when I’m painting, when I’m sleeping. These songs allow me to feel emotion, feeling, anything, something I’ve been struggling to do at the moment. These songs allowed me to paint my emotional waves sub consciously onto my canvas this week, helping to to stay focused on visualising my pain.
Today we watched the most amazing documentary/film my eyes have ever watched. Im not one for enjoying and actually understanding the scientific forms and information behind many concepts, but the knowledge that this video has provided me with is immense, the whole thing was in my opinion, a masterpiece, a collection of visual pleasure, animals really are amazing. The idea of creating my own species is exciting, I cannot wait to conduct some research into some of my favourite endangered species, perhaps combining two of them to make one dominant species. The idea of climate change has always been a very singificant passion and enthusiasm of mine, I try my best everyday to live a more sustainable wand waste free life. Creating a species based on the notion of climate change is a topic that inspires me greatly.
Notes from today’s class:
Opening the parcel!
Im super excited to design a concept for my species. I always enjoy research into topics that I am genuinely inspired and excited by. Thinking…How can I put my animal in the little tube?
Developing the idea of capturing the stream of my emotional waves..
After speaking with Miranda in my first tutorial, we decide that I should focus on and exploring predominantly my stream of emotions and feelings, continuing these paintings onto familiar surfaces with familiar materials. Right now I need comfort from familiarity. Ive decided to spend the next week or so capturing and visualising these waves. It helps tremendously that I have been home, surrounded by family and comforting elements of everyday life. Providing myself with a routine during the day helps keep me productive and motivated in this depressing time. I don’t know how I would cope if I wasn’t surrounded by comfort and consolation, feeling desolate and lonely is one thing, but actually being lonely is an entirely different thing in itself. I’m very lucky and extremely grateful in this sense.
Starting Today, I will be expressing my emotional waves onto a canvas a day. I will try to harness these emotions in very productive ways before sitting down to visualise them. Previously, I had been meditating before hand, focusing entirely on harnessing and concentrating this energy, ready to immediately convey onto the canvas. Ive also decided I will occasionally also take long walks before hand, embracing and appreciating my local surroundings of my beautiful village. Being outside, surrounded by wildlife and nature is undoubtedly my favourite place to be, I’m very much a countryside girl. The element of having been in the picturesque landscape will perhaps alter adjust and reflect on my emotions.
Canvas No. 1– Grief
This canvas encompasses grief entirely. Before this canvas I meditated, listening and focusing on the first 20 minutes of this Animal, natural sound. I thought by meditating to this video would help myself to centralise entirely only emotional wave, to then immediately apply these sentiments onto the canvas. The colours are evidently dark, dismal, there is no appearance of vibrancy at all. This is how I feel inside, just empty, filled with darkness, like a black hole. I keep asking myself why? Did I do something to deserve this pain? This grief?
I’ll never understand why he had to be taken away from me so early. I now understand that taking my time to grieve, to feel sorrow, to feel entirely empty is normal when loosing someone close. I’m the type of person who can never sot still, I can’t lounge around all day doing nothing, but right now, this is all I want to do. Its difficult for me to feel so unmotivated, to not want to do anything, nothing at all. This process is teaching me a lot, to understand that grief is okay, normal even, and taking time to wallow and mourn in my room, well, that’s okay.
Here is the video that I will mediate to for 20 minutes before completing a canvas, that is. if I feel like it. I may want to just lie down, take a walk, a run, to sit and cry. I’ll refer to these animal sounds whenever I feel like it.
Canvas no.2- Desolate
Comparing this canvas to the piece I completed yesterday, its immediately much more colourful and vibrant. The colours are very earthy toned, greens and blues, also reds and pinks. I completed this canvas after taking walk along the beach whilst watching the sunset, the pink of the sky inspiring the prominent inclusion of the red acrylic paint. The other colours are also inspired fro the colours surrounded by me on this walk. The green/blue colours are inspired by he colours from the sea, blue from the sky, as well as white from various elements of nature.
Whilst on this walk, although I was in an atmosphere that would usually lift my spirits and make me feel some element of contentment, I still felt empty. I’m lost. I don’t know how this is ever going to get better. Hopefully by continuing with these canvases, they’ll eventually help me to control and alleviate my emotional waves, making sure I’m not allowing these emotions to build up, eventually exploding, leaving me feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Already, I feel like these canvases are already helping me to express and visualise my grief and process of healing.