Portraits of the Mind

Portraits of the Mind explores our thoughts and mind-sets using the body as a canvas.

When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world.” Carol Dweck

How we perceive our world and the mind-sets we hold are often described in metaphorical terms. The images and symbols used for Portraits of the Mind are an artistic expression of the mental attitudes which can shape and change our significance, striving and deepest meaning of success and failure. The series of artworks invites the audience to look at their own self constructed image, perceptions and worldviews.

The Unknown Mind
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Krissy Smith
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

Reflections on how little we know about the mind, confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, the limits of our perceptions, the unknown depths of the mind.

“The Mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water”
Sigmund Freud

The Box
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Charlotte Mahdoodi
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

Exploring ideas of social constructs, labels, ‘fitting in’ and boxes. How our responses to circumstance affect our viewpoints, including ideas on fixed and growth mindsets.

“Don’t think outside the box. Think like there is no box.”
Ziad K. Abdelnour

Malneirophrenia
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Charlotte Parker
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

A foul mood resulting from a bad night’s sleep or a nightmare.

Malneirophrenia
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Charlotte Parker
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

A foul mood resulting from a bad night’s sleep or a nightmare.

Euneirophrenia
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Jenny Hibberd
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

A good state of mind after sleeping.

The symbols portrayed in the series have been chosen for their personal interpretations and direct references. There are double meanings present throughout many of the works with a focus on iconic religious and culturally significant symbols; for example, the Dove signifies Euneirophrenia, a peaceful state of mind after a good night’s sleep, composed in direct juxtaposition to the Snake as Malneirophrenia, as its venomous qualities represent a foul mood resulting from a nightmare.

“…I value that little phrase “I don’t know” so highly. It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended.”
Wislawa Szymborska

Polarities
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Lisa Vasilev
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

Polarities of thoughts, contrasts of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ thinking the changes of states of mind, the stories of memories, the passing of information from the mind. Based on thoughts from Lisa, the model portrayed on her memories of post natal depression:

“My face would go on but behind it was this black hole… I was like a computer, programmed and functioning… It’s like having two heads, one so positive, one so negative but that second one, it just keeps beating the other”
Lisa’s post natal depression.

Open Mind
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Charlotte Parker
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

A expression of the term ‘open mind’ as opposed to closed, myopic and rigid view points, ideas on an open mind having flexibility to change and a vantage point of being able to see clearly.

“Minds are like Parachutes, they only function when open”
Thomas Dewar

Observe
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Charlotte Mahdoodi
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

Ideas about learning and contemplation and a play on the word ‘listen’ containing the same letters as the word ‘silent’ and how one is not possible without the other.

“When you speak a word to a listener, the speaking is an act. And it is a mutual act: the listener’s listening enables the speaker’s speaking. It is a shared event, intersubjective: the listener and speaker entrain with each other. Both the amoebas are equally responsible, equally physically, immediately involved in sharing bits of themselves

[…]

Teller and listener, each fulfills the other’s expectations. The living tongue that tells the word, the living ear that hears it, bind and bond us in the communion we long for in the silence of our inner solitude.”
Ursula K. Le Guin

Imagination
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Jenny Hibberd
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

An artistic interpretation into self expression through art and viewing our world, how imagination can be a way of seeing and what makes a creative mindset.

“Imagination is the highest kite one can fly”
Lauren Bacall

Glass Half
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Charlotte Parker
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

A reflection on our perception of circumstance, a play on a term derived around view point on ‘how you see the glass’ and an idea of ‘seeking of spirit, the sense of meaningfulness.’

Alcohol in Latin is ‘Spiritus contra spiritum’, the same word is used for highest religious experiences or the lowest poison.

“Life is short, and it is sinful to waste one’s time. They say I’m active. But being active is still wasting one’s time, if in doing one loses oneself. Today is a resting time, and my heart goes off in search of itself. If an anguish still clutches me, it’s when I feel this impalpable moment slip through my fingers like quicksilver… At the moment, my whole kingdom is of this world. This sun and these shadows, this warmth and this cold rising from the depths of the air: why wonder if something is dying or if men suffer, since everything is written on this window where the sun sheds its plenty as a greeting to my pity? I can say and in a moment I shall say that what counts is to be human and simple. No, what counts is to be true, and then everything fits in, humanity and simplicity. When am I truer than when I am the world? My cup brims over before I have time to desire. Eternity is there and I was hoping for it. What I wish for now is no longer happiness but simply awareness.”
Albert Camus

Ego
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Charlotte Parker
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

Exploration of how influential minds have shaped our current understanding and the labelling of our experience. The idea of a fragile illusion; the creation of identity, the self, the ‘I’ and how it is expressed as an ‘ego.’

“Inner purpose emerges as the outer person is lost, the shell of the ego breaks”
Eckhart Tolle

Destructive
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Harry Head
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

“The endless cycles”
Alan Watts

Constructive
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Harry Head
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

“Eyes are the windows to the soul”
William Shakespeare

Playing on ideas of thought patterns and neuro-plasticity. ‘Destructive’ and ‘Constructive’ are terms sometimes coined for our thoughts. The artworks look at loops of self critical ‘negative’ thinking verses thinking constructively about the inner and outer worlds.

Cloud Walker
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Krissy Smith
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

An interpretation of the idea of ‘Nefelibata: A cloud walker; One who lives in the cloud of their own imagination or dreams, or one who does not abide by the precepts of society, literature, or art; An unconventional, unorthodox person.’

“Know all things to be like this: A mirage, a cloud castle, a dream, an apparition, without essence, but with qualities that can be seen. Know all things to be like this: As the moon in a bright sky, in some clear lake reflected, through to that lake the moon has never moved. Know all things to be like this: As an echo that derives from music, sounds and weeping. Yet in that echo has no melody. Know all things to be like this: As a magician makes illusions of horses, oxen, carts and other things, nothing is as it appears.”
Buddha

Burn
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Charlotte Parker
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

An exploration on attitudes and how they can differ; burn out or passion being seemingly intertwined with artistic endeavours.

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey”
Kenji Miyazawa

Bend the Rules
Concept Design and Artwork: Emma Fay
Model: Helen Claire
Photographer: Jonathan Macauley

View points on life as something to be played, explored alongside cultural reference to systems, business and relationships being based on games. Thoughts on our tendencies to use the idea of ‘play’ as naive or child like, but in context of music or respected sports, as aspiration and admiration.

“Everyone plays the game of life, but not everyone follows the rules.”
Anon

The work portrays Emma’s personal curiosity of choices, freewill, influence and our social ideals.

I find I have an obsession with how phrases and cultural influences remain relevant through time, even as society changes our minds remain the viewer, the writer of text, the thinker of thoughts and the witness to our worlds. Where we are born, to what time period and which information is available to us, alongside our aptitude to interpret and understand will all have an effect on our mindsets. How are circumstances will all shape our attitudes and thoughts and how likely we are to change our minds through our lives, how much we are likely to reveal of ourselves to others, and where within the socially accepted ‘spectrum of sanity’ we feel we fit, is all food for thought. The artworks are a way to express what is happening within us all, inside our skulls, on top of our necks. I wanted to somehow make a physical interpretation of thoughts that are made by that ever elusive, complex, constant yet transient witness to the world, that records and creates our minds, the brain. The artworks look at the self, and shines a light on the perspective of how we see over what we see. The idea for the Portraits of the Mind series is to reverse the view point, making the internally hidden become outwardly seen. I like the idea of creating a visible mindset, to show our insides in another way, using the body itself as a canvas to peer inside the mind, to examine thoughts. The ideas and metaphors to be chosen from are vast, but I hope the selected help to give a view of the inner world on the outer skin, the perspective of the self that’s unseen within us all.”

The artworks are photographed in a uniformed pose with a neutral expression giving a plain view of the face. The intentional removal of the models’ personality and character offers a potential mirror of the mind for the viewer. The combining of portraiture and illusion, where the figure is hidden or distorted within the artwork, is created to prompt the viewer to take a second look and reflect on a self-orientated society.