My artwork provides an insight into my personal reflection on the COVID lockdowns and restrictions that have been in place over the past 18 months. Particularly this year, being locked away at home hasn't been easy as I have also been completing my VCE year 12. Throughout the year, I have turned to all forms of nature as a kind of escape, hence the title "escapism", as it has provided a sense of silence and peace to me through the chaos.
As I was not able to travel to places like the coast, I looked towards images I have taken in the past for inspiration for my artwork; the image used for this work is one I took in 2018 from the Cape Otway lighthouse near Apollo Bay.
The ocean has always provided a sense of peace to me through stressful times, as it holds calming, but also powerful characteristics.
Keep Your Head Afloat
It felt like I was drowning, and my mind was so dark and I felt empty (the Skeleton represents the empty, dark feeling). I tried to make a visual representation of a "drowning emotion" which many people feel. She is holding onto the lily pad to keep her head afloat, which was like the feeling of holding onto something to stay alive.
The flowers are an important piece- the cherry blossom floating above the water is also known "The Flower of Life". The flower is from Japan, and is associated with positive energy. Whilst the sinking flower is known as "The Flower of Death". The red spider lily (Flower of death) is sinking to show that those depressed and bad thoughts are sinking away slowly. I'm very passionate about creating art that is I guess... different. I love to make things that are quite disturbing, into beautiful creatures and things to show that there's always a good and bad side to things. This also does relate to lockdown, with all those dark feelings coming back due to being in your room feeling lonely, so I thought people could relate to this artwork at some point in their lives.
This piece displays the individuality of death and gives perception as to what occurs before death. The events in the piece occur within the mind of the reader and they are meant to be unable to distinguish what is happening until realisation occurs at the end.
I am exceedingly interested in the experience of the mind during and before death. I read and enjoy books involving criminal acts involving death but I never read how the victim feels during their passing. I am striving to be a forensic pathologist in the future and am hoping I can gather a better insight into death now and later on in life.
You slink across the rough terrain. Washed out rocks clash with the browned grass, filling the environment with gloom as you search around for any sign of life. You step across one decaying log, you’ve reached your destination. Or is it your destination? There is no way to tell. You don’t know who you are, or where you are but all you know is you’re here.
Your heavy legs carry you up a set of creaking stairs. You notice the mahogany architecture is barely holding its shape, chocked by webs and ebony vines. You place your hand on the scuffed door handle. A frosty presence slips across the side of your arm. What was that? Distrusting of the entrance, you cautiously step through the clouded walk way. The cool presence returns, something is pulling you into this house but the uncertainty attached to your thoughts makes it difficult to proceed with the findings in front of you.
You shut your eyes, trying to ground yourself. Is this a dream? It doesn’t feel like one. So what is it? You’re unsure. You enter the cabin, rubbing your arm to remove the chill once again. A deep corridor fills your vision, at the end, a small bulb, hanging from the ceiling as though it were executed, it flickers, flickers some more, and then stops.
With each absence of light from the bulb you paw at your chest struggling to breath. You fall to the ground, hitting your head on a sickly red mantelpiece. At last your eyes flutter open, you see the light flare back on. You’re ok.
You stand to your feet and move towards the mantelpiece. The red stained slab of wood is filled with poorly framed pictures of people. Do you know these people? Yes, yes you do. Who are they? You assume them to be relatives you haven’t visited in a long time because your last encounter was a tragic and depressing goodbye.
Your head is still spinning with agony. You drag yourself towards a set of stairs. Broken and unstable. You observe the whole corridor from afar, it’s bare, the exception being both the stairs and the mantelpiece. The walls feel as if they are closing in around you. You pull your body up the ascending stairs, longing to find something without a doubt that is familiar to gain a sense of security. It’s a long journey upwards. The stairs seem to keep rising with no exit point. You look at the adjacent wall and see more pictures. The faces swirl into one and then disappear. The wall is bare again.
You finally reach the top of the stairs and see another hung globe, much dimmer than the first. A sharp pain flickers inside the depths of your head, everything goes dark again. The light is gone. You lose control of yourself, unable to move, unable to think or to see. You can’t seem to remember anything before your arrival to this lonely place, it disheartens you. You can somehow feel the light flick back on, you’re ok. Once again the walls begin to close in. You feel trapped, alone, as if nothing can save you, as if this place is you’re new found fate.
The flowered wallpaper of the second hallway begins to peel, revealing mould entrenched wood behind. The thick roll of carpet begins to obtain a new heavy, matted look, the once red roll of fabric now has the appearance of several mangled cats sown together. You like cats, you think. Why does it look like that then? You don’t know. The new carpet makes you queasy. You roll your head around the corridor, the doors that were once scattered across the far wall now fade to nothing. Horrid gaping holes fill your surroundings. Across to the empty window frame, you can see the path you walked to get here. How long ago was that? It felt like hours. Something seems different about the terrain, everything is black, as if all life had been drained from the area.
You collapse, there is nowhere to go now. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, the only way is down, back to the beginning. You partially tumble down the smudged stairs. What’s happening? Nothing comes to mind. You pace back to the mantelpiece. The pictures once filled with people are now blank pieces of paper, infecting the frames. The darkness begins to surround you, you turn around to the first doorway. Gone? How? Once again, you don’t know.
There is only one thing to do. Run. Run before everything is indistinguishable from each other. Before everything is gone. You feel the ground begin to shake and the light at the end of hall flashes to a brightness you’ve never been exposed to before, knocking you off course. Another flash arrives an unknown amount of time later proceeded by dim a flicker here and there. The pain in your chest become unbearable, but you keep pushing, determined to make it to the end of the hallway. Your throat feels as if it is closing up, you’re never going to make it to the end, you’re not going to make it to the light. You turn to see the darkness catching up with you, the hallway seems to grow in length. Maybe there is no end, you think. Maybe this is the end. Your feet feel as if they’re being pulled down, your weight drowning in tar. The floor seems to swallow you up, but you know it’s the darkness. It’s taking you. The light is barely visible now. You’re scared. Scared of being taken, but what choice do you have? You glimpse upwards for the last time and see another flash of light. Then nothing. There is nothing.
You feel the air escaping your lungs, the light fading from your eyes, the faint whispers of people. People? There can’t be people here can there? You’re not there. The whispers begin to fade, for a second what feels like reality becomes visible. White coats and what appears to be surgical equipment surrounds the soft surface you lay on. Then it all stops.
You’re back now, back to the place you started, but not the same as the darkness is everywhere.
You feel empty finally realising what has happened and why you’re here.
You were dying, this place was no dream and now you’re permanently back. You’re dead.