A project that began analysing an abstract of text taken from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Phillip K Dick, soon snowballed into huge stepping stones to copying with anxiety for Fiona Finchett. The description of Isodore’s apartment was extensively elaborated through use of mind-maps and rough sketches. Fiona made links to colours and specific elements as she explored the possibilities of where the atmosphere created from the words on a page, would lead the project.
Used to small A5 sketchbooks, the gigantic roll was certainly a step up in size. ‘I was fed up of running out of room on a page. I love to mindmap to connect ideas and the restrictions were in effect hindering the extent of these generations.’ To which Fiona, glued together seven or so rolls of wallpaper lining as a make shift sketchbook. Despite the weight, which gradually made its way up to a total of 8kg, she kept at it.
‘Starting fairly small at one roll of paper was great, but as soon as the project got deeper it became a little tedious carrying it around’. However, the effort was certainly worth it, being able to view varies images at a time, she was able to recognise the link to research and initial sketches when developing ideas. Furthermore, contact sheets didn’t seem all too bulky, when Fiona was able to view them over a stretch of paper, corresponding one to another and annotating where needed.
As the journey into the Silence went on, connections were made on a personal level. She moved away from the written description of what silence felt and looked like in a room to, what it meant to a specific individual. Having recognised the same connotations applied, personal experience took its turn in primary research. As the sketchbook felt rather special to Fiona, the fact that it was only her who could open it left her feeling at ease. No one could unroll it unnoticed. Her silence stayed within.
That said, as she began to visual what silence meant to her, struggling with anxiety, things became a little easier. Shedding light on emotions that had never been uncovered or certainly not elaborated on in such great detail allowed Fiona to have a clearer mind. The sketches made, that she later produced photographs were fairly fluid. Once in the studio, she used simple delicate materials and human form to bring these to life. With an attention to detail, the model she chose intentionally, had a similar mindset to herself. This similarity allowed Fiona to connect more with her subject the other side of the camera.
‘A project so personal, visuals flew out of mind. The longer I spent thinking about how I felt in certain situations and where silence mattered to me most and why, the easier it became. Getting them out into the open and in a way gaining a greater understanding of how I felt, really did have a big impact on my day to day life.’ Recognising the improvement in her mental health due to being creative and letting go in a visual response, she felt the need to share her experience. The photographs were printed at a huge scale and exhibited at a couple of venues in Manchester. Fiona also made a hand bound publication to accompany the images. The text, a sort of diary or dialogue with oneself. Explanations followed as to why certain materials were used and questions were raised throughout the book as she continued to make connections and figure herself out. The time in between allowed her to reflect that bit more on what she was initially sharing to the public. By the end of the second exhibition, her state of mind had changed so dramatically, she felt a different person.
‘I felt like I was visiting someone else’s exhibition when I came back to take it down the second time around. Being able to stand there in front of an image I had made and discuss the way I felt on a regular bases made me realise that I shouldn’t let fear own me. I can certainly conclude the experience stating that I am not cured. But I would like to believe that I am more in control and understand myself in ways I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t been so open with myself’. Fiona’s sketchbook now stands proudly in its red velvet bag. A bag made as a collaboration with her creative Auntie.