Artist Statement – The Self Project

Rebecca Uffindell, Hazel Lewis-Farley and Eleanor Slaney work collaboratively. They explore the theories concerned with the ‘self’ and the projection of social norms onto identity constructs. These concepts are supported by Jim Rohn’s theory on the law of averages in which he states “you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. They are also inspired by the principal argument of nature/nurture in psychology as coined by Francis Galton. Finally, Freud’s theory of ID/Ego separation was also important in furthering the group’s investigation as it provided explanations for the construction of the mind’s conscious and its relation to identity.

The project stems from a group interest in these theories. The group focuses specifically on identity and the multiple identities people portray in their everyday lives, from a private self to a public self, exploring how they can express this in visual language. The exhibition itself explores the liminal space between ‘the self’ and ‘the other’ through the incorporation of mirrors within the grid of portraits inviting the viewer to explore their own identity.

The project took place through multiple stages.

  1. The process commenced with continuous line drawings of each of the members of the group.
  2. These drawings were then reproduced through photocopying. They were then enlarged, reduced and corrupted in different ways, for example reassembling and rearranging ripped up pieces.
  3. Using small A5 boards, each member of the group created work that incorporated these fragmented and disrupted portraits with different materials.
  4. Working separately each member of the group created portraits of the other members, using their own unique visual language.
  5. These were then circulated with other members of the group and re-worked until each portrait had received intervention from every participant in the group.
  6. The area for exhibition was then painted a bright blue colour with warm, illustrative frames painted around some of the portraits in a similar style to Lauren Child’s illustrations to introduce a childlike and nostalgic element to our work.

As a result the work becomes a compiled portrait of all three group members.

Taking inspiration from the works and methods of Hannah Höch, the group work with a range of media including painting, textiles and specifically collage, to create distorted portraits developed from experimental sketches of each other. These are exhibited in a grid formation which fills the colourfully painted wall with faces. Lynn Hershmann was also an influence because of the way she dealt with alternative personas, technological identity contstructs and particularly our perception of ‘the face’ in contemporary society. Frida Kahlo’s autobiographical portraits were also influential, especially the way in which she embedded her heritage, experiences and relics of herself into her work. Her deeply personal work and use of emotionally raw symbolism inspired the group to further research the human psyche and display this as sometimes grotesque, sometimes manipulated, sometimes playful portrait.

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