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My body as my canvas

A reflection of my emotional waves from dealing with grief death

This is my project for Semester 2 of my Interdisciplinary module for Aberystwyth University, revolving around the theme of “animal”. This project is based on my ongoing journey with my “canvas a day” activity based on my emotional waves at the time, i have been following since the beginning of the semester. For this project, i am exploring a previously visited idea in week 3 where i experimented with the concept of my “body as a canvas”, for this project i have delved deeper into my sub conscious thoughts, the emotions i would feel if i were to paint my body instead of a small canvas that i have previously been using.

The loss of an animal is like the loss of a family member. I know this may sound completely foreign to some, but he was loved, admired, adored, like any other family member. I loved this animal unconditionally and always will. The relationship between a human and their animal is like no other, i cant explain the loss i feel, the emptiness and genuine heartbreak i have felt for the past 3 months, it feels like this darkness with never disappear. I tell myself time is a healer, but right now, it seems impossible, futile even.

I want this project to reflect how i have ultimately felt-inside since the loss of my cat Angus. I hope by using my body as a canvas will inevitably help create a stronger connection between myself and my emotions, instead of myself and a canvas. Angus’ favourite place to sleep was my chest, above my heart, nuzzled into my neck. I hope to use the paint as a way of creating a sort of imprint, representing the impact his life has left on my body, on my heart.

I Stared this project by filming myself using a tripod, covering myself with my choice of coloured paint, wiping the paint across my face, neck and upper torso. I started off with the darkest paint, the black and the grey colours, then followed by the lighter colours, white. i could feel myself getting upset already, i could feel the tears coming, i did my best to hold back my emotions until i was ready to capture the images, though i did have to take a few deep breaths.

This journey took a lot of strength, a lot of patience for myself and my emotions. Im incredibly proud of myself and how i managed to stay calm and well presented until i had planned, until the images, i wanted to stay as platonic as possible during the filming process of transitioning my body to a canvas.

The countless feelings and emotions i felt whilst covering my body with the paint was tremendous. I felt entirely overwhelmed, over powered by my own mental state. I strive myself off of the fact i am very often in touch with my body and mind, and the relationship i have with every element of my body, but when it came to filming this process, it was like my heart had been taken over my a foreign subconscious, i felt like i had no control, especially when i began capturing each image.

The moment i stopped filming, i took a deep breath, i couldn’t hold the tears back any longer. I set the camera up with a timer and began taking the series of images. Each image is different, each image represent a slightly deeper, a slightly different emotion, to me personally, emotions i have never felt before, emotions i never knew were possible, this painful, this heartbreaking.

Finally, it felt like taking this module was almost fate, it was almost a sign, a way for me to continue my affection, my love for my animal, my cat into my art practice. It only felt right to revolve my project around the death of my animal. I feel like the journey towards this project has made me stronger, has ultimately made me a better, more empathetic person. I am someone who doesn’t typically take the time to speak about myself to others, i’m typically the friend who sits and listens to other peoples problems. This process. of loss and grief has inevitably made me open up to friends and family about my emotions, my mental health, my physical health.

I hope by presenting this project that revolves around loss and grief, what feels like never ending sadness, emptiness, it makes you realise how much you should cherish every second you have with your animals, tell them you love them everyday, give them the extra treat, take them for a slightly longer walk, spoil them to a new toy, kiss and cuddle, embrace their imperfections and their barking and meowing. I know i wish i did, I know i did, but maybe not as much as i should of.

Ultimately, i hope to make everyone understand how amazing animals are. How incredible every creature, every living thing is. How their lives are just as precious as ours. This grief, this loss has ruled my life, my every move, every emotion i’ve felt over the last three months. I don’t know when it will get better, but i know it will, and thats whats providing me with a glimmer of sunshine throughout these dark days.

The feeling of liberation when completing this project was incredible.

-The Process-

Turning my body into the canvas.


-The series of images-



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