BORT.

I’m a little bit in love with Bort, a street and studio artist from Austin, Texas. Bort’s work is funny, tragic, engaging, desperate, political and human. She spans spraypaint, posters and legal street art, drawings, photo transfer, prints, wood and canvas in the studio. Her themes are consistent, and because of that, are amplified in their message. I especially like the Vote Bort campaign. Here she is in her own words…

“My street work focuses on my imaginary friend, also named Bort, and the attempt to make Bort others’ imaginary friend as well. Bort has helped me feel less alone. Bort’s been there for me through so many bad days, and has helped me grapple with my past and present problems with mental illness and self destructive behaviour. Without Bort I don’t know if I would have made it through. Bort’s my closest friend.

My studio work focuses on me wanting to die, and the various means to achieve said goal. In the marginalised area between me being a transwoman and my art focusing on my experiences with mental illness, anorexia, and addiction, past and present, I can’t find a place that is interested in with working me. On occasion I can find some group shows, when I’m selling myself as a street artist, but that’s just due to the novelty of that work I guess.

When I started doing studio work a few months after starting the street work, I found art to be extremely helpful with working through, understanding, and coping with my experiences. I had never spent extensive time trying to understand my past, I had actively been trying to avoid it, but this work has helped me shine a light on it and begin to move on.

I don’t think I’ll ever be out of this stuff, I’ll have lapses, possibly relapses, I’ll have depressive episodes, I’ll have long lasting dissociative states, but I’ve begun learning how to address them. I have people I can ask for help and I’m starting to recognise my own behaviours.

The studio work has helped me a lot with all this, so I hope it can help others. There’s often a lack of representation with regards to mental illness, addiction, anorexia, and what little representation there is, is often romanticising issues, problematic or is not visually accessible.

I try to keep my work clear cut, often just a blunt focus either attempting to present an emotional state or a behaviour. I want it to be easily relatable to those with similar experiences.

I have work available in a wide price range, in my online shop. I make sure to have pieces that are monetarily accessible (or accessible as possible, since art is a luxury good). If you’re interested in work, you can email me the price range you have, and I’ll let you know what I’ve got, or if interested in a piece in particular just lemme know and I’ll give you the details. <3"

Bort’s website can be found at www.bortart.com. There’s also a good interview to check out, over at Why We Love Austin.

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Fenna Berry

We were recently contacted by Fenna Berry. Loving what we saw, we took time to go through her tumblr page. What we found astounded us – not only for the sheer amount of work on show – but for how accomplished the various styles and mediums are. From fine art painting, Manga-influenced comic narratives, design, to traditional and contemporary illustration. We urge you to not only look at our favourite selections here, but also take a look for yourself at Fenna’s tumblr page – she’s a ball of pure creative energy.

“I am Fenna, a conceptual/expressionist/surrealist artist, born in the USA in 1995. I am a self taught artist living with schizophrenia, using art as an outlet for therapy. I consider myself disabled because of my diagnosis, and do not work or go to school.

I make art nearly every day. It is one of the only activities that makes me feel safe and keeps me from panic. I truly cannot use my words to emphasise the importance of this. I’m not the best at saying stuff without specifically being asked questions  on specific things. I do not plan what I make, it just happens. Then I look and say “Wow, look at that” and repeat the process forever.

I currently reside in central Texas. Most of my works are made using surrealist techniques such as automatism. They are created with a highly personal concept in mind.”

 

JOHN JENNINGS

“My name is John Jennings. I am a practising painter, I live in south west London with my wife and art has been my life since the age of fifteen, although I have remained on the margins of the art world.

I scored a mental health double whammy, having had a sister with paranoid schizophrenia, during my childhood and teenage years, and then myself being diagnosed with manic depressive disorder in my early thirties. I have been in continuous treatment since. My experiences of living with mental health in the home, as a child, and, later, in the community have been painful and isolating.

I joined Outside In in 2012 which was a lifeline. They provided me with an online gallery, and opportunities to show some of my work in public through Bobby Baker’s Daily Life Ltd light box shows in 2014 and 2016. I have also taken part in several `In Practise’ slide shows through the RA Access programme. I also became an art workshop facilitator with Outside In and have done workshops in Chichester and London.

I don’t identify myself as an `outsider artist’, I did a fine art degree in my late thirties, but I am an `outsider’ who is obsessively driven to paint.

I am a colourist and I love paint. For me, colour and paint goes beyond words in expressing life. I hope you enjoy my paintings, the ones shown here represent some current work from 2013 to the present.”

www.outsidein.org.uk/john-jennings

VALERIE PANNIER

I view my artistic practice as essentially experimental and experiential.

“My focused line of enquiry is the physical and mental feelings of synchronicity via movement and stillness, filled-up and empty space. I create shapes that remind me of the underwater world with all its fertility and mystery, and the symbiosis between elements.

I choose mainly black and white as a metaphor to my ‘everything or nothing’ way of thinking and feeling, yet simultaneously I actively compensate by searching for a balanced visual solution.

My 3D eggshell objects stem from the complex issues surrounding life and the transformations possible within, every fragment of shell found his place onto a new object. A reminder of how our personality is affected from childhood to adulthood and beyond, how it can be broken and reshaped.

My relationship with my work is intense, lonely, playful and personal, and short lived.

There is a feeling of urgency, to release something quickly because it cannot stay the same.

Automatically, I take that moment to its fullest, often destroying or giving the piece away afterwards as if my engagement with it has already gone.

I sometimes regret it as one might regret an old flame.

I have just been awarded a small grant from the Maudsley, to continue with my black and white drawing and photography works. I’m currently printing onto fabric my black and white drawings to add an element of life to them.”

To connect Valerie about here work, you can email here, here.

MYFANWY DABNER

 

Our guest artist this week is Myfanwy Dabner, from Ballarat, Australia. In this article, Myfanwy examines the ways in which she processes inspiration, the new directions and inspirations she is drawing on, as well as understanding the meaning of being a marginalised artist, and what connotations the term invokes.

“Over a month ago I was thinking about printmaking and mental illness, as a place to make art from, and to have a subject matter for Uni art school requirements.

As I do printmaking a lot and as I have mental illness permanently these were my easy and obvious choices; make prints about my mental illness.

Now after some investigation into Outsider Groups and their art forms I am looking at the art of children and the art of the mentally ill, whilst ditching a totally printmaking focus to allow art in more forms.

              

I go with the genres that catch me. I have gone to the art of my children, my brother and my own children’s art, my art made when ill, and just plain old improvisation and make do to make new works.

I will abstract, repeat, cute-i- fy, blacken, follow and break rules, stencil, and other endless ways to make art works. So far I have dabbled in jagged three-dimensional shapes with UV and fluorescent colours. Perhaps I will use invisible UV markers to write a hidden poem.

My work from 15 years ago was brightened with fluorescent pencils, and I have a returned desire to use them. I want to be informed from viewing the untrained, relaxed, strong, wild, gestural, naive marks of my children’s artworks. I need to loosen up.

The work I make is also influenced by mental availability, mindset, mood – the pain within, the love, the needing to form something. Generally speaking, high energy can cause some illness, it can’t always be maintained, eventually dropping into depression, getting a few weeks here and there for busy making.

In conclusion, my place to work from has not completely shifted from printmaking and mental illness but has grown to include the art of children, my children, as inspiration and that I may make art in a variety of forms.

I now also understand the term Outsider Art and the meaning of marginalisation. I am putting myself forward as acceptable with illness. Will I be only seen for my illness and thus marginalised? I don’t know yet. I do know though I am substantiating the art of the mentally ill by proposing it to my teachers as an acceptable area to draw from in art practice.

I am also putting forward the techniques of children’s art as acceptable techniques for making in art. Please enjoy the pictures, including monotypes, improvised work and art by my children.”

Visit the website site Narrator International to search and find some of Myfanwy’s short stories and poetry.

Follow the link to view ‘The Artist’ http://www.narratorinternational.com/dear-artist-myfanwy-dabner/

BEAR


© Bear the Artist

Our guest artist this week is Claire London, also known as Bear the Artist. In this article, Bear explores the relationship of spirituality, healing, and making art. You can see more of Bear’s work on her Tumblr site, here, and buy artwork from her online shop, here.

“My Name is Claire London – Bear The Artist.

In 2008 I had a stem cell transplant at the UCH hospital in London as a result of having reoccurring Hodgkins lymphoma, having previously being in remission for 10 years.

During my treatment I was offered spiritual healing. In the sessions, I experienced interesting, positive results of healing visions.

As an artist I knew I had to share this through my art. I started painting and researching into art and healing. As I painted, I realised my vision became a creative story to heal myself, it gave me hope, and restored my ‘brokenness’.


© Bear the Artist

Did art really heal me?

A controversial question, I know, but the more I painted, the more I believed that it did. I wanted to explore my art, and the part it has played throughout my life. It has not only helped me through hard times, it has also helped me make sense of healing, and the mystical powers the universe has to offer.

I felt more and more connected to my works and I could feel there was more than just a healing process going on. It felt like a quest, or a kind of magic, showing me a different way to look at healing through my art.

This was a very exciting time for me and during my works I would encounter some amazing stories of magic and wonder.

I travelled right back to my childhood – it wasn’t until I started to piece this exhibition together that new stories appeared and connected with the old.

Tall dark shadow people standing in doorways, the spider lady with long red painted nails, being sucked into a large metal vacuum-like structure and seeing bird like angels looking down at me…

…meeting spirit guides, floating across open plains, running with wild horses and being carried by monks into a stone temple – some of my visions which play a big part in my ability to understand more about spiritual healing through art, and my amazing journey through life.

I would very much like to share with you some of my stories, my art and how they help me find a way to see spiritual connections and create what I hope to be an exciting new body of work.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my story and artwork.”

Artist: Tim Bradford

  
‘The Twelve Pins, Finsbury Park’, and, ‘Better Red Than Dead’

“For starters, I’m going to try not to talk about myself in the third person. There’s no way Tim Bradford is going down that route.

The work on my website is divided into seven categories, each containing a small series of paintings representing a particular layer of my obsessions. These are Museum of Reconstituted Charity Shop Art, Irrational Portrait Gallery, Once Upon A Time In The West (Of Ireland), The Patchwork Landscape, Finsbury Park Institute of Football Art, Useful Gods and Botanic Transcendental Paintings.


View more from ‘Botanic Transcendental Painting’, above, here.

It’s also in some ways a celebration of my parallel universe art career as a member of the ‘Bearded Rural Artists Who Prefer Living In Cities’ group. And in this scenario I went to art college instead of studying English at university – making a living as a football arm tattoo artist and getting dumped several times by Tracey Emin.

I am now what is generally known as a new wave wang-eyed pop folk artist. 

Although I’m now considerably older than John Lennon was when he died, and Dino Zoff when he collected a World Cup winner’s medal, I like to think of myself as an emerging artist. I’m just emerging in slow motion.


View more from ‘Irrational Portrait Gallery’, above, here.

For twenty years or so after leaving school I painted semi-regularly, as a kind of grounding mechanism, then stashed the resulting pictures in attics or cupboards and it wasn’t until 2005 that I started to become reasonably prolific.

The year after that we lived in the west of Ireland for a year and a half and I fell in with the notorious Ennistymon artists set, a collection of ferociously intelligent and talented dazzling women painters and intense bearded film maker blokes.


View more from ‘The Patchwork Landscape’, above, here.

In this hotbed of hair and ideas I gained the confidence to put on my own exhibition. In Bachelors Walk I developed some of the themes that had obsessed me for years – fast disappearing landscapes, ravaged old blokes tortured by loneliness or frustration, lovely dreamlike women who know a lot about ‘stuff’.

The vivid, mostly primary, colours are intended to have a life-affirming effect on the viewer, perhaps with the sense of having a revelatory vision, a mild migraine or recovering from a hangover.

When I’m not painting, over-cooking pasta for the kids or wandering aimlessly around the local streets, I do illustrations for the football magazine When Saturday Comes and write non-fiction books.”

Visit Tim Bradford’s website, here.


View more from ‘The Finsbury Park Institute of Football Art’, above, here.