Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Well-Being Competition - BAIL203

The Wellbeing Competition gave us the opportunity to create a piece/s of work in response to the topic of ‘wellbeing’. These pieces would be put forward into a selection process, where the best outcomes will be showcased in an exhibition. The aim was to promote awareness of mental health, and the help that is available to students.  

(laser cut box, metal gold leaf, LED lights, and ceramic lion painted in acrylic)

The Objects 
The box itself looks boring and mundane, however it’s the glowing gold cracks which lure you in, and make it beautiful. Inspired by the Japanese art of ‘Kintsugi’, the flaws and breakages of the piece are highlighted and seen as part of the history and value of the piece, rather than something to disguise and cover up.

The interior of the box has been gilded with gold, showing that one’s value comes from within. The lion that sits inside shows how even the ‘strongest’ of animals can feel scared, afraid and anxious, (all of which are unexpected emotions to be traditionally associated with a lion). This can be compared to the world that we live in, as society expects certain people to be strong and resilient (e.g men), but actually they are as susceptible to feelings of the opposite.

The lion is inside an enclosure to represent a barrier/comfort zone; anxious and afraid of life beyond the box. However the box is showing signs of deterioration, symbolising that this barrier is being overcome slowly - a sign of progress and hope. These small indications of progress are showcased in gold, conveying their importance and significance.

The Experience
Another element to this piece is the emotions that it makes you feel. Firstly, animals are scientifically proven to lower stress and blood pressure levels, and improves your general feelings of happiness.

Furthermore, the surprise of finding something unexpected inside an ‘average looking’ box makes you feel happy too. The act of peering inside something small, to find things smaller than life resonates with things from our childhood (dolls houses etc), this again fills us with joy and nostalgia.

Therefore, not only does this piece convey topics of wellbeing through symbolism, but the emotions you feel in response to it actively improves your wellbeing too.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Art in the Experience - BAIL203

For my outcome for the Well-Being project, I really want the experience that you get from the piece to be part of the focus. I want the emotions that you feel in response to my art to actually have a positive effect on your well-being.

I have found several examples of artists who make art to brighten up people's days: Jan Vormann, Paige Smith, and Jim Bachor. These all however use the experience as a 'secondary meaning', and the main motivation for these artists are bigger world issues - the experience isn't always the sole focus.

I've been trying to source a piece of art where the experience itself is the art. I've managed to come across the work of James Turell, specifically his exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum: Aten Reign.

The exhibition piece itself deals with such simple and ordinary things: light, space and perception. His work encourages you to reconnect you with your senses, and it's the experience itself which is the art form. A request was put forward for visitors not to photograph the exhibits, as Turell really wanted to put emphasis on the experience - and that it is an essential and vital part of the art (which cannot be replicated on any level through photos).

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Happiness - BAIL203

For my wellbeing project I want my piece itself to improve your wellbeing. I want people to walk away smiling, feeling inspired, uplifted, positive, and ultimately happy.

To give me the best judgement and understanding, I conducted some research into happiness itself, and what factors cause people to be happy.

Happiness is defined as, "the state of being happy" [1], of which is "feeling or showing pleasure contentment". [2]

During the 2011 UN General Assembly, the importance of happiness was discussed. It was not highlighted just as a priority for global health, but it was also acknowledged as a 'fundamental human goal', in which even economic growth can benefit from [3].

The study of happiness has been a global focus for scientists, psychologists and Buddhists. The exact formula of which still hasn't been pin-pointed. However, there are a handful of things that we can surround ourselves with, and do, in order to make ourselves happier people:

1) Caring about other people
Within all of us we have something called the 'moral molecule', which is associated with love and pain relief. This molecule releases oxytocin when we think about the ones that we love and care for. Looking at photos of your friends and family can raise oxytocin levels - making people happier. Ultimately personal relationships are a vital component to happiness.

2) Old Age
Studies have shown that elderly people are happier in their later years, than they were when they were teenagers. This might be because they had more knowledge and life experience, so they can consequently enjoy life more.

3) Positive Thinking 
Thinking positively vastly contributes to happiness. There are 5 ways of thinking that can help you to adopt a positive mindset:
- Be grateful
- Be optimistic
- Count your blessings
- Use your strengths
- Commit acts of kindness [4]
Being aware of your strengths and noting all of the positivity in your life will encourage better well-being and overall joy.

4) Exercise
When you exercise, endorphins are released. These are natural painkillers and create feelings of euphoria

5) Enjoying Culture
Immersing yourself in the outside world and the different aspects of culture has been proven to boost your happiness. Going to an art museum, a ballet show, seeing a play, or even attending church are a few ways this can be achieved.

6) Having Pets
Studies have found that some of the happiest people around are the ones that have a pet. Pets not only increase our self-esteem, but they also give us a sense of belonging and meaning to our lives. Being around animals can also reduce blood pressure, and reduces stress too.

Other things that can boost your happiness:
- Nature (being surrounded by plants)
- The outdoors
- Music
- Looking back on memories, reminiscing
- Doing a hobby, e.g gardening, dancing, drawing/painting
- Meditating