The Sound of Silence is…..

…… a constant ringing in my ears, according to the British Tinnitus Association 1 in 8 of the UK population are living with persistent Tinnitus.

“Tinnitus is described as a sensation or awareness of sound that is not caused by a real external sound source.  Approximately half of patients find it moderately or severely distressing with complaints of intrusiveness, emotional stress, insomnia, auditory perceptual problems and difficulties with concentration.”  thebsa.org.uk

How does this relate to art? Our current project is Edges and Overlaps, and honestly I was really struggling to get on board with an idea for this initially.  As I started the first of my option rotations in Surface and Form I was struggling with a migraine hangover and bad noise sensitivity.  Art is usually associated with creating from your passion and what drives you.  I decided to use my apathy for my reference photos from the Bristol trip, my reasons for this, 1) I wanted to do this course to challenge myself and experiment with new mediums and ideas, not fall back to “comfortable” genres.  2) I realised when reviewing the photos that I felt on edge in urban noisy areas because of my Tinnitus and how it was affected.

Tinnitus is a constant that suddenly appeared in February 2019.  It overlaps every single aspect of my life.  On the really bad days my nerves are on edge and I feel like I really can’t take anymore noise.

I really love music and lyrics have always meant a lot to me, I used to play the violin and cello and am currently learning the piano.  To me the ringing in my ears is one continous note that is about 2 octaves higher than the highest note on the treble clef. The best way I could think of representing that is as a minim, or string of minims.  I also wanted to represent it bouncing of a corner.  I designed screenprints with musical notes ideas and chose teal and grey ink, with a splash of orange on the first print, to represent the jarring effect on my nerves most of the time.

After mocking up ideas on a square format in paper, my vision wasn’t really working.  At this point Rachel, my tutor, started going through a couple of books in her room with me for inspirational ideas, and we found a piece of work by Cas Holmes that was like my row of minims on my first screen print.  We then discussed a long wall hanging concept and I went away thinking about how I could change and simplify my idea.

The final concept was decided on and I screenprinted four more pieces of material, and also some repurposed orange safety harness/seatbelt material.  The contrast in the materials and patterns used represent the different effects of Tinnitus and how I feel depending on environment, some days although it is the same pitch, it feels like it fades and softens into the background.  Other days it feels very busy and jarring.

Snippets from my sketch book

I see my final piece hanging in a gallery as part of a larger body of work, something the observer can walk around and see from different perspectives. Hopefully it would give them an idea of what it feels like for me.

For me there were several things I could have done better time management, trusted my instinct more, been braver and more confident in my decision making.

I had to hand sew the shapes, cut out the supportive board in the middle and I forgot to allow enough seam allowance and had to hand sew everything together.these mistakes though made for a more jagged and frayed hemline, as I was running out of time to finish I couldn’t be as picky about neat and tidy seams and overlocking the woolmix weave. The rawness not doing those things has created, make it feel more real and had it been finished neatly it would have a totally different feel.

Thinks I take away from this creative process are:

1. Keep it simple

2. Use my sketchbook more for idea dumping and working through.

3. Trust my instincts

4. Be more confident

5. Experiment more.

I really enjoyed my time in surface and form and am really pleased with the final outcome, for me it reflects the story I wished to tell.

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