The Albatross Series

Back in 2017, I began struggling with my mental health. A lot of things happened in my personal and professional life in the years before but I chose to push through instead of reach out for help.

Consequently, one day I broke.

A woman sits bent forward on a wooden chair at a 45 degree angle to the camera. A gold hinge is embedded at her waist, allowing her to hang lifelessly forward.

The Albatross project came out of my counselling sessions. My counsellor was amazing and counselling was pivotal for me. The images started as responses to visualisation exercises during these sessions. Once counselling had finished, The Albatross Project became a cathartic process. It journeyed through destruction, rebuilding and rebirth. Until one day, I didn’t feel the need to create those images anymore. I had the desire to create different art, for the first time in almost two years.

There are unfinished images for this series and concepts that never got started. I had so many ideas for the brokenness, each idea being the visualisation of emotion, often pain.  I’m interested in how they would turn out being in a different place mentally.

A woman crouches on the ground, hands protecting her head In front of her is an old hurricane lamp. the lamp provides the only glimmer of light. She is surrounded by darkness.

However you choose to express what’s going on with you, the important thing is to express it. Get it out. Keeping everything in puts tremendous strain in your mind and your body. Eczema, IBS, allergies can be some of the symptoms your mental health is under stress. As well as panic attacks, trouble sleeping, self – medication with substances such as alcohol, trembling, forgetfulness.

The list is long and varied, which is why it can be difficult to realise that your mental health is not in good shape. Withdrawal from friends and family can be a sign. Often when you really don’t want to talk to or see people, it is the very time that you need to be taking to them. Make it either a professional counsellor or those in your very inner circle. Nobody else has earned access to the inner parts of you. I am so lucky to have an amazing immediate family. I’ve shed a lot of unnecessary and toxic people. My inner circle is small, but mighty :).

Woman sits on floor with her back facing. there are two larges holes in her back.

I have shared my own personal experiences and learnings. I didn’t realise I had so much to say! Everybody’s experiences are different, yet equally challenging. What is important is that we share them, in order to dissolve the taboo.

What I’ve learned: You’re not crazy. You’re working through some tough shit. You’ll get through it. You’ll be stronger. You’ll be wiser.

Check out the rest of the series in Collections

Wounded

Woman sits on floor with her back facing. there are two larges holes in her back.

Even the largest of wounds can heal. In time you will be whole again.

Construction: Nikon D700, 50mm, f, 1/80, ISO 500. The floor was created out of a laminate floor palette arrange on my bedroom carpet. For the hole I used a broken vase and the warp tool in Photoshop to get the shapes I wanted. I used replace colour to change the colour of the vase to match my skin and did some burning on a separate layer to add shadows. I then used curves, levels and selective colour to create the tones I wanted and added a couple of textures.

Screw loose

 

Screw loosehave a screw loose (idiom)

a) to be eccentric

b) to be of unsound minded

I thought I was crazy. My mind didn’t work in the way it always had. Instead of firing quickly, it had almost ground to a halt. Cerebral thought was like walking through treacle. Everything was foggy, a record stuck on a scratch, a computer powering down. The most basic of tasks required my full attention, making a cup of tea, driving. I couldn’t make a decision, closed questions only please and I couldn’t always answer those. I was a computer which didn’t compute.

But below this robotic exterior, something was screaming with all its might. I couldn’t hear it, but I could feel it. It was small and far away, but it was powerful.

Is this what it is to be of unsound mind?

Dedicated to those times when you think you’re losing it. You’re not. It just feels like it for a while.

 

Construction:

Nikon D700, 50mm, f8, 1/50, ISO500. I photographed the subject and the screws on the floor in one shot. The rest of the screws were photographed individually using a hair grip to hold them. I photographed different angles and rotations as well focal distances to ensure I could blend them into the original image and create believability. Finally some tweaks in curves and textures were added.