It felt incredible to print a 70-page dissertation out, bind it and hand it in. A massive load off my shoulders, off my head, off my mind and soul…

In all honesty I am incredibly happy I got to do something as consuming. I learned so much in the process… not only by going through something like 30 books at least, but also by thinking back on the process and how it all came together piece by piece.

Strangely enough, now that I’ve been through this, it feels like I’m ready for another challenge. Further research into what I was already talking about (which feels like it could turn into a lifetime’s worth of works) or something new to dive into. Well. For now, I’m happy to be done with it. It’s good to not be stressing over academic writing.

post-diss havoc

Funny thing, to fall ill as soon as you hand in the work which has been sucking your soul for so long… it only makes sense. I went through about 10 days of being in bed, unable to move or focus on much, not even able to create the artwork I’d been craving to do for so long. Stress is a serious issue, and my body had had enough of it – I am only thankful that it happened after I was finished with the dissertation, rather than during.

Even though recovery took me a while, I had ideas whirling in my head for days before I actually started doing anything about them. There were a lot of things to start thinking about – the final degree show, my course project, animation, and the exhibition we’re doing in Bristol around the start of April being just a few of them.

The return to my project after such a long period of focusing on something so different was confusing to say the least. I had to reacquaint myself with my own work – a strange experience. It allowed me a different perspective and I noticed several things which I needed to work on, which I otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s safe to say that things are once again in full motion, even though the project has changed in some ways.

The most important thing is… I’m drawing again. I’m being actively creative, and producing work, which was one of the bigger stress fuels of the several months leading up to the start of February. Since then, I’ve done more than I thought I would have, yet there is still so much to work on.


‘curled up in a dream’

 Dreams have become an ultimate source of inspiration for the artwork I have been doing in the past month. Joseph Campbell once compared myths and dreams and that stuck with me in a way that not many things do.

“Dream is the personalized myth, myth is the depersonalized dream; both myth and dream are symbolic in the same general way of the dynamic of the psyche. But in the dream the forms are quirked by the peculiar troubles of the dreamer, whereas in myth the problems and solutions sown are directly valid for all mankind.”
– Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

poster making

I designed a poster for our 3rd year degree show fundraiser. I did it all by hand, as I thought it would be more interesting than just using photoshop. If anything, it’s good experience, now I know I should do some things first instead of others.. Posters can actually be quite fun when they’re not about a heavily serious event.

Constellation Yr 3: Contribution (PDP)

In the context of Constellation the past year has been nothing but pivotal and excruciatingly heavy – stress became a key word and there was no way to truly relax even during breaks and holidays. This time last year we were having our first lectures about what our dissertation is and how we should be starting to think about it. Most of us left those lectures even more confused than when we entered. At least that entire process started early enough to allow us enough panic time before we had to actually sit down and get some work done.

It took me a while to find what I wanted to write about. Not because I had no ideas but because I had too many to choose from. We were instructed to write about something we love and wouldn’t get bored of easily. It was difficult to align that with my idea to write about something I find important or at least inspirational. I could’ve chosen to write about anime and gone on and on and on about Studio Ghibli, Akira and all the rest of my favourites, I could’ve written about comic books and the ways they influence our lives, and gone on to analyse the works of Moebius, Crumb and so many more. I could’ve gone into tarot cards and alchemy and all the illustrated manuscripts, which were the basis for modern scientific practices. I could have written about so much… but I didn’t. I chose to focus on perhaps the one topic, which could never be truly explored in its totality because its subject is infinite in essence.

Once I truly started thinking about it the answer appeared in my mind, as if on its own. Memories started re-emerging of my 12-year-old self tirelessly writing lists upon lists of gods and goddesses and what their powers were and which mythology they were from, grouping them in all sorts of ways. As soon as I remembered my notebooks and attempts at storytelling, I knew that it had to be something to do with all that. I wanted to relate the idea to my practice, I am in art school after all, so perhaps I should look at the visual side of the matter – that made for the initial question: Why do we visualise gods and goddesses the way they do? In essence, I did not agree with the idea that each divinity was meant to look in a specific way – why does Aphrodite have blond hair, why does Zeus have to have a big bushy beard, why are they curly, why aren’t they fat, questions of all sorts, often shallow and not necessarily promising. But every brainstorming session is bound to produce more than several ridiculous bits and pieces. Eventually, the question morphed to Why do we even depict them as human? As being existing in different dimensions, it makes no sense for them to be limited to such a thing as the human body, and surely they can’t be defined by its appearance. So why do we put so much emphasis on the depiction of a form, which is just one of the many shapes a god can take within our world?

God and religion aren’t topics I enjoy talking to people about, mainly because of the endless disagreements on the matter. I don’t particularly enjoy having to put concepts like “GOD” into academic terms and definitions, as it is not only impossible but purely ludicrous to “define” something which is undefinable by definition. People love talking about god, up in the sky, judging form his throne in the clouds; they also love drawing and picturing the old man with his beard and stern face and robes and sandals. Perhaps this is why I never found the appeal of religion – you could be completely in touch with nature, and follow basic moral principles, you could be spiritual and devoted to your faith but why do we have to have someone’s restrictive ideas pushed down our throats since day one? How could we allow for such a limitation to our perspectives of the world?

Of course, we all have our own views on the matter and I don’t want to disrespect anyone’s understanding of this highest power – because that is what it ultimately is – a highest form of power, which we all believe in, under one form or another. For some it’s Buddha, others call it Allah, or God, but no matter where we look, there is always a concept of that which is transcendent of everything else – its name and shape are just the product of cultural differences. This is exactly where I’ve rooted my entire question.

Titled Art and the Divine: Visualising the Unimaginable, it is, in essence, an exploration of how gods and goddesses have been depicted throughout time and in different environments. I won’t talk much about the dissertation itself; but it is a piece of work I am immensely proud of, as I never thought I was capable of writing something so consistent and so lengthy. What surprised me the most was that I ended up going over the word limit by about %50, and that was before writing the introduction and conclusion. My topic was more extensive than I’d imagined, even without being as analytical and explorative as I wished. There was so much I wanted to write about and cover, but 10,000 words is barely enough to even get my point started.

I believe our dissertation group was blessed with one of the best possible tutors – Mahnaz Shah. Without her guidance, commentaries and patience, I believe I would’ve lost faith in both my writing and myself a long time ago. It is truly a wonder, to be inspired by your own studies and trusting your own perspective on matters you wouldn’t imagine to ever view academically.

I may have suffered creatively (in Subject and personal projects), but I have to say, every bit of it was worth it – my mind has expanded exponentially and is ready to be filled with even more wondrous ideas.

Here’s the visual cover I did for the dissertation (a test-collage from last year’s Constellation lectures, when we were asked to depict our reality), followed by a short excerpt, which in my opinion manages to sum up the entire piece.

cover 001

“Perhaps the infinity of depictions of god is symbolic of the infinity which is god. “

Reflections on Constellation, year 2

After last year I came back expecting something similar but that made much more sense and focus. At first it was all a bit confusing because we were being taught about dissertations all of a sudden and being pushed to think of an option we’d like to be in. It was all a bit overwhelming, like we didn’t really understand what was happening, because it was just one thing over another. A few of the options were especially alluring to me, like Goddesses and Monsters, led by Cath Davies, Puzzling out Contemporary Art, by Jonathan Clarkson, Understanding Humour in the Context of Art and Design, with Theo Humphries, and last but definitely not least, Mannerism, with Mahnaz Shah.

I wasn’t confident at first whether I want to be in exactly that group, even though I am incredibly interested in Renaissance art, but I trusted my friend when she said Mahnaz was brilliant, after she’d been in her group last year. And I was convinced almost immediately. You wouldn’t expect to be taught in such a manner and it seems surprising at first but then by the time you really start enjoying yourself amidst the discussion, idea-sharing, contradictions and connections, Mahnaz is already giving you an assignment or something to research at home and talking about next week. You realize it’s finished too quickly, and then you can’t wait until next Friday… Time flies by when you’re having fun.

By viewing artworks from the old masters (Michelangelo, da Vinci, Bronzino) paralleled with ancient philosophy, and then finding the similarities and differences with art and design from 1880 to 1945, we gain a deeper understanding of the true meaning, intention and thought which exist intertwined within all of art. With the practice of listing what we disagree with what Mahnaz was showing us, we began to really grasp the concept of a multitude of meanings and the uniqueness of perception. Focusing on the ‘beautiful’, ’strange’, and ’ugly’, we managed to draw conclusions vital to the life of art and the place of art in life – what is strange, ugly or beautiful is only subject to our own perception.

Our lectures were always exciting and incredibly interesting to take part in. I was always amazed at how brilliant old art is, how incredibly intelligent and educated Mannerist were, not to mention the philosophers of antiquity. With our ‘homework’ we got to explore the topics from the lectures even further, such as the assignment on the Platonic Solids, and the collage artwork she let us make, depicting ‘our reality’, which helped really understand and experience everything we were learning.

With the end of our ‘option’ lectures, marked by our essays on the definition of the strange and the ugly, came the beginning of our dissertation prep, namely, the first lectures on what exactly a dissertation is, why we are doing one and how we should be going about it. It felt like an unpleasantly abrupt transition from the captivating learning process we had just undergone (in preparation of what was to follow) to the sometimes frustratingly long and almost confusingly detailed lectures which oft times left us in an even greater state of panic and awe of the cataclysmic tsunami that we were about to get to surf on, which was our dissertation. The more they tried to tell us it was not that scary, the more frightening it became. In fear of insufficient time I borrowed a pyramid of books to start off my research, my topic still uncertain – I wanted to write about something I know I can’t become bored of, something that I wish to find out more about, and something which I could relate to my own knowledge, ideas and work.

The freedom to write about anything we choose was almost unreal to me at the start. Apart from the final essay from last year, any academic writing I’ve done has been uniform for everyone and the excitement is always about how your friends approached the question and what they wrote. Now the great excitement, and fear, comes from what everyone else is going to write about – if everyone can write about anything, what would they come up with? what would I come up with? what if I end up writing about the same thing as someone else? With outlining  where my own interests lie, I felt like I had to make sure my research idea was special, otherwise I could not see the point of it. I am so delighted and even though I suffer with it, same as everyone else, it is an almost masochistic suffering which makes me incredibly happy on the inside. I appreciate the work, the knowledge and the research,  and I am very excitedly looking forward to where it will take me.

Venus and Adonis ©Cy Twombly. source:

Apollo and the Artist, 1975 source: © Cy Twombly

Dissertation Prep / weeks 1&2

Shattered. urban/natural glass composition (as found on the way home)

We’ve had two lectures so far (as usual on Fridays) about what a dissertation is, why we have to write one and how we should be going about it. Ashley Morgan has been presenting in both sessions, trying to explain to us what it is all about.

I don’t know why, but I’ve noticed that in both lectures what she was talking about was pretty much the same, only the second time there were more actual examples. Somehow people don’t seem to grasp what they are supposed to be doing, which to me seems absolutely ridiculous, as a dissertation is what EVERYONE does at the end of their course. There is only so many ways to describe what a dissertation is, and after repeating herself about seven times, you can see why I started finding the lecture a bit frustrating…

For some reason, a number of fellow students still haven’t grasped the idea of having a blog and how we are all expected to fill it, which is fairly surprising as we’re in the middle of our 3-year course and it is what we have all been marked on for the last year and a half. Questions like “how many words are we supposed to write on our blog in the Constellation section” seem downright ignorant while we’re trying to talk about our dissertation.

Personally I’ve been stressing out quite a lot. I decided to hand in the pre-proposal form next week since I’m still too unsure about my ideas. I feel like there are so many things I want to write about that if I choose one, I’ll immediately regret not choosing another. Ashley rightly noted that we should focus on something that we love, something that we find interesting and exciting, because we’re going to be spending a lot of time on it from now until this time next year, and I completely agree…. But at the same time it feels like my interest in things is boundless.

(I will add another post or two or twenty about my ideas and how I plan to go about them… both to share it and to give it at least some form of basic outline, on which I can focus my research. )

Whoof. Exciting stuff, am I right?