This year I decided that I wanted to move my work from being solely contained within the digital arena and into exhibition spaces. There is something about being in the physical presence of a piece of art that seeing it online can’t quite equal. I’m sure that one of the reasons I love Barbara Hepworth, Fiona Rae, Yayoi Kusama and Sean Scully amongst others is that, thanks to local galleries, I have been able to see their work as actual objects and to form a deeper relationship with them.
In May, I had the good fortune to be part of the excellent Inside My Mind exhibition curated by Katie Plenty (www.shutterspeed-photography.net) at Oxford House in Leeds. Running from 16th -17th May, this show brought together local artists and photographers to explore experiences and stories around mental health , with the aim of enabling people to talk about this sometimes difficult and still misunderstood subject.
I submitted a digital piece called Split Vision. This was based on my experiences of derealisation and depersonalisation. These are symptoms of anxiety which make me feel that the world around me is artificial and then to become frightened that my perception of it is not right and may lead to madness. It can last for a few minutes or, when particularly bad, for a couple of days. While I am a very visually orientated person, when I am experiencing DR or DP, the sights coming in from my eyes seem overwhelming and dreamlike. Split Vision came from this experience of disconnection in the visual experiencing of my life and my need to accept it.
Split Vision – Damian Mark Whittle (2016)
It was incredibly exciting – and nerve-wracking – to show one of my pieces in a public area. Oxford House was a great venue, full of light and space. As well as sharing my own creation, it was also an opportunity to see some of the other amazing and powerful work on display. When the show had finished, I bought one of the paintings – Kitten by Nida Mozuraite (PhotoManic Photography). A few weeks before the exhibition, my wonderful, beautiful cat Dennis passed away. Nida’s painting of a purple cat somehow reminded me of Dennis, with all his mischief and joy of life. It’s a pleasure to have this on my wall.
Inside My Mind was well received by visitors and in July, a second show will begin a six week run at Café Lux in Pudsey. I’m pleased to say that I’ll be contributing three pieces to this.
Damian Mark Whittle