What compelled you to start making art?
I was always a very arty kid, but I rekindled my love for art when my mental health deteriorated. I found that making art became a therapy, and allowed me to cope with intense emotions in a healthier way.
At the start, was your work spurred on by seeing the work of other artists?
At first it was just the process of producing work to keep my mind busy, therefore it wasn’t heavily influenced. At university though, research and outside influence has to be documented and graded, so that’s when I began taking inspiration from great artists such as Marina Abramovic and my ultimate favourite, Yayoi Kusama.
How do you see the influence that those two artists have had on your work? What about them inspired you?
Abramovic’s work opened up a whole new practice in which I could express myself. Performance art has this immediacy about it and a radical way of withholding the audience’s gaze. I want the viewer to leave my performances with the issues I’m trying to portray at the front of their conscience.
Kusama also worked with performance art in the late 60s, but what inspires me most about her as an amazing woman, is that she uses her art as a weapon to counteract the daily mental health struggles she faces. At the age of 88 she still continues to create art despite having been a residence at the Seiwa Hospital in Tokyo since 1977. A true warrior!
What are you working on/planning on working on next?
I’m currently working on the concept of control. I’ve recently found myself in a position where my control is very limited, so making do with the materials around me I’m creating a physical piece that hopefully visualises this battle for control and the mental and physical endurance that coincides with it.
What place do you think control has in the world?
It’s hugely dominating in more ways than we imagine. Control can be seen in the larger scale of politics, society and authority but can also be seen in the simple day to day scenarios of independent choice and obsession. Control can be used for both positive and negative outcomes, but like with power, we need to be conscious of the consequences.
What do you want to communicate about control in your work?
In the grand scheme of things I’d really love my art to communicate not just the role of control, but the wider effects that mental health has upon an individual, and also within society. Mental Health has become a more commonplace subject- especially on social media sites, however I still feel there’s a lot of people out there who are ashamed and embarrassed by their struggles, myself included. Therefore by producing art based on these struggles I hope to offer the chance to open up a discourse, or at least let the viewer know they’re not alone in their daily battles.
How do you feel about the way mental health is depicted in mainstream media?
More awareness has been made but there’s still so much more that can be done. I also find that it can have negative affects at times, especially when it comes to cases such as anorexia, the stories seem glorified and can be extremely triggering. For example, social media and magazines are saturated with “before and after selfies”. That’s why I try to use my art to show the behaviours behind the emaciated figures, or the images we so often associate with anorexia, depression, obsession etc.
How important is the process to you (when compared to the importance of the final product)?
For my piece Obsession For Perfection, process held significant importance. Through the process, the physical and emotional drain that accompanies mental illness could be witnessed. For a lot of my work, the final product is ephemeral, although photos and objects do exist for documentation purposes, and my website, but the processes within my performance are a critical way of really engaging with my audience.
Where do your ideas begin?
A lot of my ideas stem from autobiographical experiences and emotions. And it’s because of this I still worry that others may see my work as narcissistic and egocentrical.
Do you see that in other artist’s autobiographical work?
No, I actually find other artist’s autobiographical art intriguing, as there’s always a story to tell. I think it’s just paranoia about my own work as when I was a child, and even now, I struggle being the centre of attention- I much prefer being a wallflower and observing others. I’m terrible- I’ll take myself to my favourite coffee shops in Leeds and sit by the window with a book but end up just people watching, it’s my form of escapism when I feel overwhelmed!
What direction do you see your work going in the future?
I have no idea about the future, which is absolutely terrifying, but also exciting. I guess for now I’ll just take each day as it comes.
You can find out more about Amelia’s work here: http://ameliakatebaron.wixsite.com/artist