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Ta Da!!!!!! film completed!

Have finally finished editing!  Any feedback welcome.

This film evolved from my research for my dissertation and inspired me to take the realms of my reality to the forefront.  Using film I wanted to invoke emotion and empathy in the audience.  To show what I experience on a nightly basis and the struggles emotionally I have.  I wanted to challenge the viewer’s perception of someone who suffers with mental illness and the role they are perceived to have in society.

Following on from Antonin Artaud’s essay on mental illness and how it is perceived in society, I researched how mental illness has been represented throughout history in society and art in order to inform my ideas and convey my experiences.  I realised that I needed to research deeper into surrealism and began looking with Andre Breton’s Manifesto of Surrealism.  Exploring the movement in detail helped me to see that my project was very much interwoven with the beliefs of the surrealist movement and the writings of Sigmund Freud.  I believe my dream paintings are a reflection of my subconscious and my hallucinations are created by my subconscious, which are then being revealed to my awakened self.

Exploring surreal artists I decided that because I work in film I needed to further examine what makes a film surreal and what role the artists play in this.  The significance of the eyes features strongly in the films and I was particularly inspired by Louis Bunel and Salvador Dali’s ‘Un Chien Andalou’.  The emotive use of the eye footage gave intensity and that was something I would take into my film but in a different way.  I wanted the eye to be ever watching, but also to embody the feelings of me being constantly watched.  Samuel Beckett’s film entitled ‘Film’ starring Buster Keaton influenced my ideas.  In this film the viewer is contantly aware of the protagonist being watched and no matter how hard he tries to hide, he is always being watched.  This has similarities to my reality at night and I felt an affinity and understanding that I wanted to convey through film.

I wanted to incorporate an animated element to my film to link through my watercolour paintings.  I felt this would help highlight how my night time experiences affect me by interlinking my awake hallucinations with my dream interpretations.  The audio on my film helps create the emotive atmosphere and give the sense of flowing.  I didn’t set out with a clear sense of the details of the audio; I just woke up and recorded my thoughts and feelings.  I felt this spontaneous release was very effective as it was real emotion and that came through well as opposed to a script. 

An unexpected addition to my audio was a poem that I had during a dream.  I woke and quickly wrote down what I had dreamt and thought then that it would be good to use as an audio version of my dream painting.  Both the audio and visual linked together made each other more meaningful and emotive in embodying the experience of my night time. 

The audio gives an insight into my personal thoughts and tries to confide in the viewer my innermost angst.  I hoped that the audio being personal in content but also in voice tone would involve the viewer and pull them into my night time world.

Posted by Sarah Hirst, 22 May 2013

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 30 May 2013

Nearly the end?!!!

I am 2 weeks away from my end of year degree assessment and film is nearly done!  Had a busy few weeks and now the end seems really too close!  Waiting for the exhibition to start installing and then I can get painting my space.  I will post pics of final installation and film as soon as soon as I can tidy it up and upload.

Its been a strange few weeks and emotionally been through alot.  Been deciding whether to stay on and do my MA and feeling lost and confused as to what the world would want with me after.  I felt good for nothing and felt that I was no use to anyone.  Couldnt even deal with seeing my counsellor and it just felt too much.  After a week of taking time out I decided that I am just running away and 'leaving the cake half baked'.  Its coming up to the anniversary of my Dad's passing and his birthday and I think this is having a big affect on me and my work.  That coupled with my degree ending and coping to balance uni and family and summertime can be a wierd time for me emotionally.  

Did some work experience with a local theatre company making willow sculptures for a local parade and that really boosted my confidence that I can be of some use.  Went into schools and helped them to make some large sculptures and then decorated them.  It reminded me about the whole creative process and how great that can make people feel.  I have issues with large crowds and felt very anxious but pushed to go and really enjoyed it.

I would love to do that sort of thing again and decided that I want to leave doing an MA for the time being and volunteer on different projects next year.  I feel for the first time I have direction!

I am extremely nervous about showing my film and letting 'part of me' out there.  But I just want to show people that mental illness is something that should be talked about and not ignored and a taboo subject.  I know personally I felt so alone with having BPD and an outcast in society until I met someone who had BPD and a really good job.  It made me rethink that anything is possible.  It helped to talk about how I felt at times and to know that she had gone through similar emotions.

Posting on here has also helped in feeling I have a voice to be heard and a safe place to speak xx


Posted by Sarah Hirst, 21 May 2013

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 30 May 2013

busy, busy, busy! lol!

A frame from the animation. image copyright

Had a busy few days!  Been trying to work out how to do stop-motion animation.  Been researching and watching loads of youtube videos to gain the knowledge!  Its strange how when trying to make a drawing 'walk' it is such a mystery to me, such an instinctive thing that I do everyday without thinking about.  Finally sorted it and took my shots of it to add into my final degree show film.  

Also as an artist I am a bit impulsive which has meant I have had to change the way I planned my work (actually planning) on a storyboard.  Its been quite labour intensive for only a few seconds of footage but im glad i've done it and feel enlightened and also have lots of respect for the hours it must take animators.  Will upload a video when I get more  done :)

take care x

Posted by Sarah Hirst, 21 March 2013

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 30 May 2013

Update on what I'm up to!

Image - pic1_1.png

Been a while since I posted and just wanted to give a quick run-down of where I am with regards to my projects.  I was so caught up writing my thesis and getting that right that I decided to focus all my energy on that. Thus meaning my project was neglected (poor thing) but now thesis is no more I have energy and focus solely for that!

Since I started in September embarking on my final year I have had feelings of empowerment of my Mental condition. Im getting a bit annoying (to myself) as I dont want to have it labelled mental illness. I feel calling it 'illness' gives it a negative meaning and I want to feel I am different... not ill?

It's been a real cathartic process working from the mop to my current film piece and feel it has opened up my viewpoint not to feel ashamed for what and who I am. My condition is part of me and vice versa but it is not wrong to be this way.  

As previously mentioned in posts my friends and family are unaware of my diagnosis and this saddens me at times. It saddens me that more strangers know that I am borderline than the people who care about and for me. I'm just that 'quirky' friend/relative and the fact that I'm an artist explains it all!! 

I have started on a new project and looking at dreams and hallucinations. I suffer from hallucinations at night time and sometimes during the day (if I'm really struggling). The hallucinations take the form of black figures that stand or sit in my room and watch me.  

Fearing stigma and mockery I never told anyone and although I got very distressed by them I was worried they were a sign I needed hospitalisation. After a particuarly bad night I spoke to my CPN who reassured me that I wasn't getting madder and that it was just a way for my brain to process thought. It helped just to speak about them and consequently made me feel less anxious about my experiences. 

I started to wonder if other people might have this but, like me, be too afraid to speak out. This led me to think that I want to use film as a medium to take away the stigma of hallucinations and get it from behind closed doors.

I was worried how the idea may be received by my tutor but she has been really supportive and open to what I am trying to interpret. My dreams and hallucinations are a reflection of my subconcious and so my research has led me down the path of surrealism. I experimented with automatic drawing, which helped me as a device to stay in lectures (I have the fight or flight thing when I am in a classroom environment and sat down next to people). It sort of happened without me thinking about it.  

I had been doing free-drawing at home in the morning and then went to the lecture and started to panic so started to pack my bag to run and on the board a list of websites came up so I thought I would write them down and then swiftly fly!  I wrote them down in my notepad and turned to a fresh page for the new slide, anticipating more information. The lecturer then started talking about her practice and I just stared to draw on my pad, not looking, and found it to be a soothing outlet. Interesting result as I stayed for the whole lecture! (which is not usual)!

Anyway, so that is where I am at so far!  I have uploaded a gallery my dream watercolours which I am trying to manipulate in the Software program AfterEffects to include in my film.

thank you for reading x

Posted by Sarah Hirst, 14 March 2013

Last modified by Sarah Hirst, 15 March 2013

Assessment next week!

I'm trying to remain productive and keep going, got my assessment for my module next wednesday so busy trying to tie all my project together.  Trying to recap to make a powerpoint to show more journey and its getting there! Having some medication issues too with side effects so its not an easy time. That and trying to fit in kids school things I got to bake for, make a costume for(15th century spanish chef??), not sure how that fits in to the christmas story, but hey??

Was hoping to get to scan my paintings in but my computer is away at the repair shop and havent worked out how to connect scanner to laptop.  I will post up the pictures, I have about 20 at the moment.

plodding on.....

Posted by Sarah Hirst, 3 December 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 3 December 2012

Mop head conversations

mop threads image copyright

I have transcribed the notes people wrote during my 2 days in the city centre.  I thought about how I was going to print these onto the mop and after experiementation, decided on printing using typed text and transferred onto material using 'magic touch' paper.  

I was pleased how well the text appeared on the material.  I dismantled a purchased thread mophead and used the  material mop holder to tie in my 'new' mop thought threads to make my 'thought mop'!!!

I have intermingled blank threads with the printed threads and wanted them to appear 'hidden' and printed the text so it looks like the thoughts have been 'mopped up' and absorbed by each thread.

Posted by Sarah Hirst, 26 November 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 27 November 2012

Film of me and mop!

Had to take a couple days out of uni work last week so just finished my short (very!!) of my mop film. The commentary continues from my performance piece, about how we all need someone to open up to and how society discourages being open with your feelings and how we all keep our thoughts bottled up until things get too much.

If we all had someone or something to help us work through our problems we would feel happier.  Often people just want someone to listen...

I am working on the conversations shared with my mop to create a 'conversation' mop, which will have all the comments made to me printed on to the mop.  Hopefully will do that this afternoon....

Enjoy the short film and any comments appreciated!

Posted by Sarah Hirst, 26 November 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 27 November 2012

Day two out and about with Mop!

Day two with Mop! (image copyright)

Day two joining the community arts stand and it was a beautiful day!  Lovely and sunny and quite warm which was good as it meant people were less in a hurry to get to shops to defrost!  We had a good mix of people and the highlight for me was a young man who came in with his support workers and really got into the drawing project. He had PTSD and aspergers and said he really enjoyed it as did we. It was great to see the enthusiasm for our project.

I decided today that I would try and get some sound recordings of peoples comments and had 2 people happy to be recorded and the others wrote down a comment for me. I am thinking about how to use these comments I have and I thought about maybe trying to make the comments into threads to make my own 'mophead' of the comments??  

I am going to possibly use the sound clips in my film piece but just going to experiement a bit to see how they fit into my film. I had a really good day and after 3 weeks of really being rock bottom with emotions (crying all the time, just generally wanting a break from life) I feel im back!  

I even made a start on my thesis! I am writing on the links between creativity and mental illness, looking at Van Gogh at the moment. Although seemly an obvious choice for the iconic 'tortured artist' due to his ear loping incident, Vincent Van Gogh shows the compulsion troubled minds can feel to produce work.  Only on page 3 of .....many about 6000 words but its a start.

Got a group crit on Monday in uni so it will be great to hear feedback on what I have been doing and others.

I am hoping to get my scanner up and running soon to upload pictures of my dream paintings I have been doing when I have a bad or unusual dream.  watch this space! :)

Posted by Sarah Hirst, 8 November 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 9 November 2012

Talk to the mop!

I have been really busy today getting people to talk to my mop....maybe further explanation is needed!

It started about 2 weeks ago when after a tutorial I was experiementing in uni with filming myself trying to explore how to show, through film, my everyday feelings and how I hide my feelings. It's only been since September that I have started to tell people that I have BPD, even my husband didn't know my true diagnosis but I feel that i wanted to share with him my condition.

Someone said it was like I was 'coming out' and I sort of like that idea. I feel less alone now he knows and one day I hope I can share with more close friends. My family aren't very comfortable with talking about my mental health but are extremely supportive which I totally appreciate.  

Anyway.... back to 2 weeks ago....  After my filming was going from bad to dire, I went to the loo and when I came out I saw a mop that the cleaner had propped up in a bucket. I sighed, and said 'what am I doing?!, I don't know what to do next', at that point the realisation of the situation dawned on me that I was ACTUALLY talking to a mop. I thought "I COULD TALK TO A MOP!!!" and picked up the mop and bucket and carried it to my filming area and took some footage of me just talking to the mop.

I realised that after I felt happier (not sure the mop did!) to offload my worries and thoughts and didn't need it to advise me, just to listen. This made me think about how many people just want someone/something to talk to. So my mop project was born! I thought I would buy a mop and give people the opprtunity to share their thoughts and worries. This week I was given the opportunity to explore my mop project as part of a community arts event in the city centre, so today I went!

I was really nervous, and after a train journey with my mop I made it to the city centre and to the art event tent. It was hard to approach people to start with but soon got up the courage and people were intrigued by the tent and approached us. I explained that people could share their thoughts through a film interview or just write down on a piece of paper what they wanted to share with the mop.  

I was surprised by the openess of some. The second person who came into the tent was really open about talking to me. He had just recieved a diagnosis of bi-polar yesterday and was worried about the effects and having his girlfriend supporting him financially when he should be 'the breadwinner'. We talked for a while and then he said 'I feel better after doing all this' (meaning the drawing project running alongside and the mop). That made my whole project worth it.  

That is what I wanted, just for my mop to make someone feel better.  There were 13 people all together who spoke to the mop in my 3 hour stint, and that guy and a homeless ex-army man has stuck in my mind.  He came out the army 5 years ago and been on the streets since. We talked for about 10 minutes and I explained about the serious side to my mop and he said people don't talk to him.  

I hope for that 10 minutes he felt I did listen and his words were important to me.  I was pleased with the outcome and I have the chance to go again to the art project tomorrow so hopefully I can make it. Coming down with a cold today which has been hanging up my nose for a week so tomorrow would be sods law for it to kick in!  But hopefully I will be ok and will get to take my mop out again :-) 

Apologies for the lengthy blog and hope someone stuck with it to the end lol!

Posted by Sarah Hirst, 7 November 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 9 November 2012

Sarah blogs about being hidden

Image - Sarah_Hirst.jpg

I am currently studying Fine Art and in the final year of my degree.  Art helps me survive and without art I would cease to be. It has been a saviour to me and brought my life out of a very bad place to juggling a degree and family and everything else life throws at me!

I am interested in how we keep our troubles locked away and how within society it is still a taboo to have mental health issues. I have always felt that I lead a ‘double life’ through hiding my emotions and feelings from everyone. Due to societies stigmas of mental illness I feel I ‘wear’ masks to hide my true feelings and persona. The role-playing that we take on when interacting with others, serves as a façade so no one in the outside world can see the reality of what lies beneath.

This subject has come to forefront of my mind because I am beginning to consider the prospects of my employment after my degree. Living with Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD is my secret, the one thing about myself that must be kept hidden. It just makes me think about how keeping my secret affects me, and how tiring it is. I am continually researching how BPD affects individuals and the range of emotions that sufferers display.  

So far with my work I have been painting my dreams, which I have found very cathartic and helping people ‘see’ into my world through my paintings. Inspired by Bobby Baker’s 'Diary Drawings'. I am also working on a film piece and trying to get people to share their troubles and worries with a mop! 

I will keep updating my blog with any progress made and hopefully it will be interesting….to somebody ☺

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 7 November 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 7 November 2012