On the 2nd of April 2010 Six Foot Gallery opened its doors for the first time and for the past 10 years we have made our goal to showcase the work of emerging and established creatives throughout the city and beyond.
So become a part of the history of Six Foot Gallery as we move into the future and our next 10 years. Join us in our showcase of a wide range of media and artists to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our independent Glasgow gallery.
Opening night: Thursday 22 October 2020
The exhibition runs from October 22 to November 10.
The trigger point for the collaboration between Clare and I was a hunger to express ourselves unapologetically as women artists experiencing the harsh environment that is the contemporary art world.
Both based in Glasgow, Clare and I have much experience practicing as artists and fine art lecturers as well. It was not until conversation in a joint studio crit planning our collaboration that we became aware of our separate battles with mental health and how much effect it had on our work.
Drawing and painting for me has always been a means to talk and make sense, a feathery pencil line or blob of paint explains what is going on in my head far more cleanly than the spoken word. But I came to respect or more value my skills, when my ability to speak and hear broke down.
Epilepsy: Condition and diagnosis
It was on a train in 2012 that I had an epileptic seizure, having not experienced one before. The fear and exasperation of loss of consciousness is immense and difficult to recover from. On the train that day I last remember talking leisurely with a woman (I think), then suddenly the voice and face of a paramedic in my face requesting that I get off the train. I did not know where I was, everyone on the train was looking at me, the embarrassment and anger at my confusion was harsh. An ambulance ride and a blunt phone call to my husband directing him to a hospital hundreds of miles from home lead me to the diagnosis after a brain scan to Epilepsy (Petit Mal), now more commonly known as Absence Seizures. According to my hospital notes, I had stopped mid-sentence and stared out of the window like I had switched off. I then slumped and began twitching and foaming at the mouth.
The wonderful passenger with me immediately reported this to the train attendant.
I had been struggling before this seizure with my memory. I had recently lost my mother, then grandmother before being made redundant from my job. The pressures resting on my head weighed heavily. I think that I had been having small absences leading to the long one on the train, which made me angry as I didn’t understand what I was doing. I recall arguing a lot at home, because others thought that I was ignoring them, which I wasn’t. I do not remember these episodes because I was not fully conscious.
When being diagnosed with this condition I felt I was in limbo. I am a strong and confident woman, artist, mother, and partner. But I needed help to support my brain: I had only known supporting others. Admitting illness was hard not only for me, but those around me who were not used to me needing help, and feeling guilty as adults to ask for it. Mental illness is scary because it is an ‘unseen’: a concept at the heart of my painting practice fighting against sexism and promoting freedom of thought. In my paintings I present the viewer with scenes of personal empowerment. Which takes me back to the beginning: in that it is my hands, as it always has been where the unseen can be seen and subsequently shared.
The visual journey
The drawing series ‘Barberium’ begun in 2017 is my contribution to the show that Clare and I present, a work made after a day of revelation, funny enough in a train station.
I am always enamoured and distracted by colour, pattern and light, so much so that I have to capture it with my hand before my brain forgets it.
I had no idea why every day I would do my daily walk between teaching institutions usually in a rush with backpack that I felt that I was walking in an Ilya Repin painting. Repin was a Russian Realist painter of the late 19th Century. I became familiar with his work as an art student in New York where I spent many hours ferreting around the Metropolitan Museum looking at them. His scenes of muddied mansions trashed by military men always swept me off my feet and lured me in. I had no idea why on earth I kept thinking I was in a Repin painting as I dashed under Central Station’s grand clock. I would berate myself to stop being so ‘loopy’. Until one day that the left hand of my brain screamed at me to stop and look, to ignore the pragmatic lecturing right side. So I did. I sat on a chair, plonked down my bag and watched the scene about me.
Then I saw it. Very slowly as I too in the scene I found myself sat in a Repin painting. Every man (well almost) around me, running, sitting, fiddling with their mobile phones was playing and twisting: a beard! The men around me were not part of the Russian military (as far as I knew); they were not hollering in Russian across the station, whilst marching and carrying rifles, but almost everyman around me had a beard! Sitting there 5-6 years earlier that would not be a scene I would have seen, it was apparent that the twenty-tens were one of beard and brow.
My hand started twitching. I immediately entered the barbers next to the station and politely asked if I could watch the men seated as they had their faces trimmed. The barbers were amused but easy going and so began a happy year of just sitting and drawing men being trimmed at the barber shop, listening to their conversations and enjoying the female gaze of the male face. These drawings were a revelation, a space to escape and enjoy the drawn line. In the works made I have drawn strangers and friends, where they told their stories as I drew from life. One of these drawings then came to be the most important that I have ever made: that of my father. My father had always sported a moustache, like my brothers now too. Whilst visiting in January in 2018 I drew him as he sat talking to my husband, never actually having drawn him. My little nieces came and sat with me giggling, and then asking to join me and draw him too. My dad laughed away and it was a lovely daft night of gossip and joking. Sadly however that came to be the last chance I had to talk and draw my father, as he was killed 3 months later in a road accident. This drawing became the frontispiece for his funeral brochure. History shone a very different meaning upon the drawing than that of a casual scribble.
‘Loopin’: An analysis
Sharing a space and concept with Clare has provided my practice a form of freedom, with both of us tackling subjects centred around issues with mental health that are not openly chatted about.
For us it is ‘normal’ to discuss hospital treatments, our medication, the realities of being mothers with conditions that require a certain amount of mothering back. Collaborating together to explore our conditions and its effect on the work that we make has felt like a stress reliever, but more it has opened a door to more dialogue, unintimidated by outside forces that codify what is bad and what is good.
The period of 2020, in which the world has been forced to ‘shut down’ physically, has forced it to sit in doors and entertain itself. For Clare and I this is a common occurrence for us. On many occasions we have had to sit outside ‘normal’ social structures and feel detached.
Our freedom mechanism has always been to draw or paint and one that has led to answers and important friendships.
I hope that 2020, which sets a stage for this exhibition, will be an awakening to the world of the vital importance of visual and spoken dialogue as a means to share personal experience; from which a learned future made of wise humans and social systems can be built upon.
#mentalhealthawareness #drawing #painting #art #glasgow #beard
@epilepsyscotland @epilepsyconnections @womenwithepilepsy
Six Foot Gallery invites you to ‘LoopIn‘: a collaborative exhibition of Glasgow-based artists Sharon Thomas and Clare Crines.
Via a wide range of media such as drawing, painting, installation and film animation, this show explores the boundaries that constitute ‘good’ mental health and wellbeing; applying personal experiences encountered in their own lives to offer insight to both the frustration and enlightenment that is cognitive struggle.
This project hopes to raise awareness of the commonality of mental health issues and the historical necessity of visual arts to express a personal comprehension of what constitutes reality. Please join us in breaking down the stigmas attached to mental health issues and instead celebrate the vast and still misunderstood complexity that is the human experience.
Opening night: Thursday 8th October, 6pm-8pm.
The exhibition runs October 8-21.
Loopin is an exhibition at Six Foot Gallery, opening on 8th October 2020. The exhibition is a collaboration between Glasgow based artists Clare Crines and Sharon Thomas. The show discusses the pairs mental health, and their experiences and experiments with art during this uncertain year. Below is the transcription of the interview that took place with Clare Crines, and she talks about her lockdown experience and how it has impacted her art practise.
-Lara Dingemans: Do you think collaborations between artists are more important during these times in order to create a stronger sense of community or personal connection?
-Clare Crines: For sure, I certainly do it’s important to collaborate with others rather than just being going in isolation and going solo. It is in order to create a stronger sense of community and personal connection. Working with Sharon is really interesting because she has episodes where she goes blank and I have, just recently been through a period where my mind was just overloaded and so there is a polar opposite there which is really quite nice to explore in the exhibition. And the sense of community is something that happens in most exhibitions when artists are there because they are displaying their work for the community and so therefore that’s important too.
-LD: How was your mental health affected by lockdown, would you say it gave you more space to work on it or was it heightened by chaos around you, or somewhere in between?
-CC: It was somewhere in between, it was kind of heightened by the chaos around me and just the isolation that that caused was quite harrowing really. And it gave me, a lot of artists, focus on their work but because I had been ill it was actually- I couldn’t focus on my work at all so I didn’t have any work to focus on and it was when Sharon asked me to be part of the exhibition, after you know, although she had asked me before lockdown, it was after lockdown before I was able to address it.
-LD: How has the environment around you affected the way you worked? i.e were you working in a domestic environment surrounded by personal connections? Or did you manage to create some flow between private environments and creative/professional ones?
-CC:I was working in a professional environment in the studio for this exhibition and so everything I’ve done here has been done in the studio and not at home. And that helps me actually to be around the artwork that I’ve already done from previous exhibition and as a starting- well not really starting, but a spring board but it just is a nice environment to work in and ideas bounce of each other you know, and its important for me to be in a professional environment setting when I’m doing my work.
-LD: Do you find your perception of Time changed during your experience of quarantine? If so how did this change relate to your mental health issues and your work?
-CC: Well that’s a really interesting question because I’m always pressured for time and I always have been pressured for time running a gallery and trying to make my own practise, my own work. So therefore having more time actually allowed me to do – I found I got little jobs done around the house done quicker because I had an infinite amount of time in lock down and so house hold chores became less of a, not a problem but less of a chore and I found that I would work faster when I didn’t have the time limits.
-LD: Did you find yourself experimenting with different media that you wouldn’t have used before? Why and in what way?
-CC: Yes I have, I have been working on – I’ve been going to the Glasgow print studio every Wednesday. And I’ve been mixing oil based inks and I’ve been doing gradiations and in this exhibition I’ve got three pieces where there’s a blue into white and back into blue gradiation and then I have drawn on top of these with pen, which is not something that I’ve done before so it’s nice to have been able to experiment and I found that gave me more of a free flow feel to my work which was quite nice and it felt more spontaneous and I felt a really good connection with what I was doing and I got totally lost and absorbed in what I was doing as well. So then I used colour pencils on top of the pen and they’re water based colour pencils which I would have never of tried on top of ink before and I really enjoyed that experience.
-LD: Has there been certain imagery or themes that were developed thanks to the collaboration?
-CC: Yes because it’s all about head space this exhibition and about losing your head or losing time and focus and how to address those issues when you’re dealing with any kind of mental health issues and problems.
I have a sculptural piece that I’ve been working on with broken mirrors and it came from a sense of loss and a feeling of brokenness and I put that onto a dummy and it’s all grouted and it’s a complete sculpture in itself but then I embellished it with a necklace because I work with jewellery and my degrees are jewellery and drawing and painting and so that brings the jewellery aspect so that I like to keep it in my practise and keep that alive and so I got deflated balloons in there because I feel that it’s not something- we don’t celebrate mental health and nobody does but it is good to see positive aspects coming from difficult situations.
-LD: How does it feel to have your first exhibition post-lockdown? Do you think changes are coming to the way we exhibit and the way in which people experience and access art?
-CC: I feel very excited and invigorated and very happy to be working with Sharon Thomas who is such an accomplished artist and technically really skilled. So it’s bit nerve racking working with her because she sets the bar high but it also pushes me to do my best work.
There are so many on-line exhibitions, isn’t there? You know and maybe this is a route we go down as well in order to keep up with the times. But hopefully we don’t have to go down that route and we can be a walk-in art gallery space that’s not affected by lock down, well it’s not not affected by lock down because we were, but hopefully the businesses will be staying open and we will be able to function.
-LD: Anything else you would like people to know about the exhibition and your experiences as an artist?
-CC: We would encourage more people who are artist who have had any mental health issues to try exploring those avenues because it is quite a cathartic process once you get started. It’s not so good getting started but once you start the ideas flow and then you get a sense of yourself back again which is quite nice way to work through everything.