Tag Archives: Psychology of Self

Andrew Litten inspired to share work on This ‘Me’ of Mine

The existential question ‘why am I here?’ is one a search into identity never strays far from. International artist Andrew Litten, who has lived in Cornwall since 2003, has made a career based around this question.

Future Adult? by Andrew Litten

Future Adult? by Andrew Litten

“For me, as a figurative painter – the manipulation of materials and the manipulation of identity are intrinsically linked. Perhaps subversive, tender, malevolent, compassionate – pure expression, which is not political or demographic or defined by taste, is at the heart of it all. Creativity is empowering and empathy is powerful – and the need to see raw human existence drives it all forwards.”

See the INSPIRATION page to find out more.

Tagged , , ,

False Together

APT PV 14 Mar 2013, photo by Rosie Hervey

Left: Poof! (c)2010 Jane Boyer Right: Whilst I Breathe, I Hope (c)2011 Edd Pearman. View of exhibition opening, 14 March 2013

When I first saw Edd’s piece, Whilst I Breathe, I Hope, a shiver went down my spine. I knew this child and I knew the kind of world he/she inhabited – it was not a nice place. It was a place of mania, fantasy, denial and unreality. It was a place where everything was rosy and no one could see beyond the rims of their rose-tinted glasses, and if forced to, a belligerent, stubborn and an aggressive broiling silence set in. It was the place where I grew up. Admittedly, that is my own reading of Edd’s work, but I was interested to hear Edd’s description of Whilst I Breathe, I Hope as “a Disneyesque, hyper real child-like happiness of senseless hope…” I know what he means; I come from the land of Disney.

Jane Boyer: Your piece Whilst I Breathe, I Hope, on face value communicates hope and a positive outlook.  However, looking deeper, it suggests a positiveness which borders on mania and presents a conformity which denies the acceptance of reality; a blinkered view which would become violent if challenged. What message is in the work for you?

Edd Pearman: A Disneyesque, hyper real child-like happiness of senseless hope, wonderment and joy, beautifully naive and hopelessly unaware of the impending reality of the journey to adulthood that awaits.

Jesus, We Are All Alone, (c)2011 Edd Pearman

Jesus, We Are All Alone, (c)2011 Edd Pearman

JB: Can you describe the process in creating your pieces?  Your work uses digital technology but they are very painterly.  What is behind that relationship of paint and the digital and how do you choose your imagery?

EP: My process has always begun with collage.  I am interested in taking elements from found images or my original photographs and re-contextualising them. The imagery that I use is often figurative because a key interest of mine is the human emotional state.  Lately I’ve been using Photoshop to repaint my collages, to homogenise the sometimes eclectic imagery.   I feel that a painted surface offers its own context; it is a suggestive format, one that allows people to read the artwork in a certain way.  I am recreating the medium of paint as a motif in itself.  I am not a painter, however, these are paintings.  I have become an adept computer user partly because in the real world I am not a dextrous artist.

Omnia Mors Aequat (Death equals all things), Edd Pearman

Omnia Mors Aequat (Death equals all things), Edd Pearman

JB: What have been some of the main influences on your work?

EP: Duality has a strong influence throughout my work, each work maintains a two-fold characteristic in its content i.e. Humour and horror, life and death, hope and despair.  All initially appear to embody one intention, yet possess in equal measure, opposite qualities.

JB: Your “works utilize uniforms from national organizations as reference; for example, St. John’s Ambulance, Boys Scouts, Salvation Army etc. Through [the] depiction of them as mostly solitary figures outside of their individual institutional contexts one sees the disbanded loners as suddenly melancholy, human and vulnerable.  In other pieces, [you]  subvert the often-celebrated cool precision that uniforms tend to imply in order to suggest the other facets associated with them, chaotic, brutal or lethal.”  This quote from your artist statement suggests that you are ‘subverting’, to use your word, the power, strength and status represented by uniforms as well as the glamour and sex appeal associated with uniforms and those who wear them.  What does a uniform represent for you?

Death To Me, Death To Everyone, (c)2008 Edd Pearman

Death To Me, Death To Everyone, (c)2008 Edd Pearman

EP: Uniforms are dehumanising.  All efforts to look individual are squashed, psychologically removing one’s identity in favour of a unified group, at once protecting the individual amongst a sea of sameness but also providing one’s enemies with one huge target.   Like a flock of birds or a school of fish, there is safety in numbers, but one is not safe.  My purpose is to bring the focus back onto the individual within the group, and what a lonely situation it is to be in.

JB: Isolation is a major theme in your work, are we more isolated now or less so? Do you feel we experience a different kind of isolation?

EP: Our networks have been able to grow to unprecedented levels.  We can send a message which will reach more people than we ever imagined.  Society has gone viral. This all leads to a false sense of togetherness.  We know so many yet can rely on so few.

I’ve asked the artists to share a list of books they find informative for their practice. Follow the links here or visit the Bookshop to see all the books suggested so far. We hope you will see something inspiring for your own interests. Your book purchase made through This ‘Me’ of Mine will help raise funds for the project.

Edd’s suggested reading:
Chuck Palahnuik, short story ‘Exodus’ from Haunted
Deep Water (2006) Documentry film by Lousie Osmond & Jerry Rothwell

Jane’s additions:
Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord
Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph edited by Doon Arbus & Marvin Israel

Tagged , ,

Dr Gregg, Art Pie and Kaleidoscope Gallery

This ‘Me’ of Mine has some new partners and participants to announce.

Dr Aiden GreggI am very pleased to introduce Dr Aiden Gregg, lecturer and member of the Personality and Social Psychology Research Group and the Centre for Research on Self & Identity (CRSI) at the University of Southampton.  Dr Gregg will be a panellist on the symposium and he brings a fascinating element to the panel in his interest in the phenomenon of self-enhancement.  his current research asks if the motive to verify one’s identity exists.  Read more about him and his work on the SYMPOSIUM  page.

Art Pie logoI’m very proud to report Art Pie is now our media partner! You may have seen some of the essays I’ve written for Art Pie on topics related to This ‘Me’ of Mine.  You can now find the growing list of essays on the new ESSAYS page.  While you’re there pop over to the SPONSORS page to find out more about Art Pie.  Stay tuned, a new essay is coming soon to Art Pie on value and purpose in relation to the upcoming interview with Kate Murdoch, What Are You Prepared to Give in Exchange?

Kent County Council logoAnd last but certainly not least, I’m very honoured to announce we have a fourth venue – Sevenoaks Kaleidoscope Gallery! Kaleidoscope Gallery is a beautiful contemporary space run by Kent County Council and is situated within the same building as the library and museum in Sevenoaks.  This serves to break-down the traditional barriers between these cultural institutions bringing innovative contemporary art to new audiences.

Tagged , , ,

A Barely Responsive Exterior

I first saw Melanie’s work last year in the 2011 Marmite Prize exhibition at the Nunnery in Bow.  I was struck by the delicacy, fragility and the overwhelming presence in her painting Woman with Cardigan.  It was this sense of presence which confirmed for me it should be in This ‘Me’ of Mine.   How could such an overwhelming presence be perceived from a view of someone’s back rather than the face, where it would be expected, and what did this suggest for these issues of self and identity?  Were the curious mixture of pattern and texture in her clothing personal choices or were these visible clues to circumstances imposed upon this woman’s life?  These were compelling questions and the basis for my choice of Mel’s work.

Not Dead Yet (c)2012 Melanie Titmuss

Not Dead Yet (c)2010 Melanie Titmuss oil on canvas

Jane Boyer: Your subjects are often elderly, you are a young adult; what are you exploring in the topic of ageing and the elderly?

MT: People are often drawn to images that depict the appealing side of old age. I have been looking at these romantic versions as well as the social and moral [issues], particularly the care of the elderly, the sacrifice involved. Sitting in an old people’s home as a young adolescent really stuck with me. I found the banality of it really shocking. The quality of life is so diminished and yet the confirmation of life lived, so explicit, and in some cases, so contained, unreachable. What was most striking was the isolation of each person in the room. They are agonizingly remote from each other, from their visitors. There is great pathos in the discrepancy between the outward and inner life.

In response to the issues of abuse, invisibility and poverty surrounding ageing, I painted Not Dead Yet, a vivid and joyful scene of an elderly couple dancing. There is an element of fading away, a nostalgic nod to a bygone age, living with memories – the old man is featureless and she shimmers somehow, almost stepping off the corner of the painting but the overall effect is life affirming. There is warmth and laughter and tenderness.

JB: There is a delicacy and a fragility to your painting technique, is this at all related to your subject of ageing? Did you have a sense of the boundary between your projections and perceptions of her [Woman with Cardigan] and the reality in the experience of her presence?

Woman with Cardigan (c)2010 Melanie Titmuss

Woman with Cardigan (c)2010 Melanie Titmuss oil on canvas

MT: Woman with Cardigan was painted from a sketch from life so it has this quality more so. Having to ‘fill in the gaps’, I found that I projected qualities onto her. A friend described her as ‘kind of not here, elsewhere’ but her actual presence was overwhelming. When I’d completed the sketch in her presence, I realised I’d captured something else: a frail, ethereal version of a tall, robust woman who was animated and resolved to stand for her entire conversation with somebody seated. Picking up on certain visual signs, I immediately endowed her with old age; exaggerating her ‘old lady’ characteristics to create the archetypal one, stooped and weighed down by this enormous cardigan. A mind’s picture will conjure a visceral impression, based on the physical sensation of a person nearby – the potential for interaction. To engage with another person is a process of searching and illuminating and this was the case without knowing her face, or her knowing mine.

JB: Your paintings are quite psychologically intense, not in their struggle but in their quietude.  They capture a sense of living a life and the effects of that living, the compromises, the pain, the joy.  When you connect with these individuals in that moment of observation, what passes through your mind?

MT: How people carry their lives around with them. I don’t wonder particularly what the experiences are that have bought them to this moment, just what is visible and what is not, how the body responds to the ravages of ones life’s events. How fragile and unforgiving it is. How a face at rest is open to interpretation. I want to portray them just as they appear, not to project suffering or any emotion onto them. I have painted sleeping teenagers, women talking on their mobile phones, someone stealing a microwave – I am looking across the entire spectrum of possibilities, encounters and circumstances. The pain and joy in all of it.

Bupleigh Mansions (c)2012 Melanie Titmuss

Bupleigh Mansions (c)2012 Melanie Titmuss oil on canvas

JB:  “Within a constant flow of people, anonymity and custom create a definite one of interior and exterior. So even though I observe and paint individuals, it’s the collective that I’m interested in.”  That is a really interesting statement on the source of the interior and exterior self, can you explain that further?  What is in the ‘collective’ that interests you?

MT: The connection to place, each other and ourselves; the sensations and movement that are specifically bound to transient space form an experience that is both internal and shared. I am talking mostly about non-space – i.e. mall space, suburban space, corporate space, generic or interchangeable space – the space of postmodernity. They are communal areas that stimulate a unique level of perception and consciousness, and the habitual presence of strangers can inspire a sense of participation, reassurance and continuity.  It is deceptive and the energy of it, quite seductive, ‘dwelling in the throng, in the ebb and flow, the bustle, the fleeting and the infinite.’ Though for many, these journeys take place within one’s ordinary sphere of existence, they are far from mundane.  Merging into the crowd, with all those arriving and departing, ‘you are delivered from all depth – a brilliant mobile superficial neutrality, a challenge to meaning and profundity, a challenge to nature and culture.’[1]

Man waiting for tram (c)2011 Melanie Titmuss

Man waiting for a tram (c)2011 Melanie Titmuss oil on canvas

JB: Do we see the toll taken by socialization in your paintings?

MT: All of the individuals I’ve selected to paint could only be in a metropolis. Fully contained, there is no interaction and therefore no projection at all – no awareness, no anticipation (on their part). Because of this, no decision or distinction is made regarding what to put forward, or reveal.  All that is visible is a barely responsive exterior.  The sheer volume and flow of people in the city can contribute to a sense of ‘conscious-less’, and is usually an opportunity to switch off.  This indifference, characteristic to the figures in my paintings, suggests the social is almost taken away.  You wonder what is revealed in this state of consciousness, just mindless projections on to others perhaps.


[1] Jean Baudrillard. America, Verso Books, 1989, p.124

In an effort to raise funds for This ‘Me’ of Mine, I’ve asked the artists to share a list of books they find informative for their practice. Follow the links here or visit the Bookshop to see all the books suggested so far. We hope you will see something inspiring for your own interests.

If you enjoyed this interview, be sure to participate in our This ‘Me’ of Mine Companion Book head-count, see the footer section at the bottom of the page for the sign-up form and more information.

Melanie’s Reading List:

On Photography by Susan Sontag

Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity by Marc Augé

The Future of Nostalgia by Svetlana Boym

The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies by Roland Barthes

Mythologies by Roland Barthes

London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd

The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

The Tourist Gaze by John Urry

The Letters of Van Gogh by Ronald de Leeuw & Arnold J. Pomerans

America by Jean Baudrillard

Jane’s Additions:

The Life and Death of Images by Diarmuid Costello and Dominic Willsdon

Wim Wenders: Places, Strange and Quiet by Wim Wenders

Matisse in Morocco by Jack Cowart

Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes

If you enjoy what you see here, follow the progress of the project by clicking the ‘follow’ button at the bottom of the page and share content you really like using the ‘share this’ buttons below each article.

Leave us a comment too, we would love to talk with you.

If you would like to support the project contact me at ThisMeofMine@gmail.com


Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This ‘Me’ of Mine Symposium

I have been hard at work the last two months writing scads of exhibition proposals and grant proposals – and I’m not finished yet. But I’ve just finished the largest, most complex and the most important grant proposal for the project. In working my way through that, several things have fallen into place – significantly the proposed symposium in conjunction with the exhibition.

I’m very proud and honoured to announce three of the four invited experts have agreed to be on the panel and the fourth may join us yet!

The panel members are:

Dr David Jones photoDr David Jones, Director of the new Visual Culture initiative at the University of Exeter.  His current research interests focus on visual culture, in particular installation art and the archive and the visual coding of trauma and testimony. He is currently exploring contemporary theories and representations of the archive, especially in visual culture.  He co-organised a one-day workshop at Exeter in May 2011,  Repositioning Memory: between the Archive and the Rubbish Heap.

Dr Claire Hart photoDr Claire Hart, Lecturer and Researcher with Centre for Research on Self and Identity at the University of Southampton. Her research largely focuses on self and identity. The self is an important point of contact between theories of social behaviour and personality. For example, according to self-categorization theory, the self can be defined at different levels; in terms of an individual self (as a unique individual) and a collective self (the self as a group member), and her research focuses on these levels of self-categorization.

Annabel Dover photoAnnabel Dover, Artist and PhD Fine Art candidate at Wimbledon College of Art, explores the social relationships that are mediated through objects.  She explores the relationships we have with objects that simultaneously confound and support emotional expression. The personal narratives imposed upon objects often provide a hidden expression for the breakdown in human relationships and the overlapping, disparate and disjointed memories and emotions that they reflect.  As a result, her work is specifically engineered to be overlapping, mythical, disparate and disjointed.

See the Symposium page for more info.  Follow the development of this project by following us on Twitter and becoming a follower of this blog, see below.  If you would like to support this project contact me at: ThisMeofMine@gmail.com

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

‘Beyond Painting – The Dream of Arcadia’ by Anthony Boswell is Choice Blog on a-n Artists Talking

I’m very pleased to announce Anthony Boswell’s blog, Beyond Painting – The Dream of Arcadia has been chosen by Andrew Bryant, editor of Artists Talking, as Choice Blog for April 2012.

Painting G (c) 2012 Anthony Boswell

Painting G, (c)2012 Anthony Boswell, acrylic on canvas

Bryant says, “I like a man who sticks to his guns, who knows himself well enough to know what matters to him and what doesn’t. To arrive at a place like this and stay put takes time, close attention and a strong will – to resist the empty promise of the always new…Like Morandi, he pursues one thing and keeps pursuing it, until what remains is the pursuit itself, in the form of longing. And what attends longing, of course, is loss. Morandi, maybe, was no stranger to loss, to disappointment, and I would hazard a guess Boswell is likewise acquainted with that Master.”

This is Anthony’s post #29 from his blog, it is a particularly poignant description of his point of view:

# 29 [23 March 2012]
Thanks to Sam Bell once again for the comments on my work. Yes, it is important that art comes first, finding that visual correlation between life and the work is what allows the process to bridge that gap and allows for the ambiguity to exist, further enhancing the possibilities of the paintings to take one into personal places by way of actual experience.This week, taking time to be calm in the house, to wander through the incoming and transient light, has allowed me to find a place that can work in painting. It is the result of days of waiting and looking, sometimes listening, that makes it possible to suddenly see something that has potential, that speaks to me. Often, this happens in the most exact of places, this time I was required to lower my eye level to see what was being revealed in a mirror that had been placed against the wall. It was going back to that place at different times of the day, in different light, that reveals a general emotion of experiences that are hidden there. I have been able to make just three quick visual notes of the spot to help give me a feel of what is going on there. The time is now here when I can keep going back, look at the empty space of the small canvas, and feel my way into the visual correlative that Sam talks about. It is moving from the life witnessed to the art, for the painting to take over, for the conversation between canvas and myself to take place, and in doing so, in letting this process happen naturally, the experience I had as I knelt in the room, everything I felt, saw and heard will be translated into an experience that can be felt by the viewer via the ambiguity set up in the paint and on its surface.
'Out of Ennui' sketch 1 (c)2012 Anthony Boswell

'Out of Ennui' sketch 1 (c)2012 Anthony Boswell, Pencil on paper

'Out of Ennui' sketch 2 (c)2012 Anthony Boswell

'Out of Ennui' sketch 2 (c)2012 Anthony Boswell, Ink on paper

'Out of Ennui' sketch 3 (c)2012 Anthony Boswell

'Out of Ennui' sketch 3 (c)2012 Anthony Boswell, Ink and pencil on paper

Out of Ennui (c)2012 Anthony Boswell

Out of Ennui (c)2012 Anthony Boswell, Acrylic on canvas

Read more of Anthony’s blog and visit his website.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Temporary Suspension of Tension

In a series of interviews with the artists in This ‘Me’ of Mine, we’ll explore their practice more in depth and find out what inspires them to create the work they do.  We’ll discuss issues of the self, how the artists deal with it within the context of their work and how they see themselves in relation to their work.  Objects play an important part in many of their practices; we’ll also look at this relationship and the issues of fascination, projection and meaning which surround our connection with objects.

The issues surrounding this exhibition and the work of these artists attempt to explore notions of a psychological self within an artistic context; these notions are issues of identity and experience, the very subjects which make up most of modern and contemporary art production in the twentieth and twenty first centuries.  Modern psychology makes a distinction between the ‘self as I’, the subjective self and the ‘self as me’ or the objective self; in simple terms, ‘I that knows’ and ‘me who is known’.[1]  This distinction is at the very heart of This ‘Me’ of Mine.

The following are excerpts from the first in this series of interviews.

Fallen Pigeon (c)2010 David Minton

Fallen Pigeon (c)2010 David Minton, oil on cotton duck, 55.9 x 55.9 cm, courtesy the artist

David Minton describes himself as, “…one of many who return to their roots after teaching….. What if…..I studied at Chelsea in the late 1960s?”  David maintains that sense of urgency required of someone attempting to make up for ‘lost’ time.  He works full-time in his practice and since October 2008, has written the blog Dead and Dying Flowers on an Artists Talking.  In October 2010, it was chosen as ‘Choice Blog’ by Tamarin Norwood.

Jane Boyer:  You describe Peripheral Vision as, ‘Two birds, Two lines, Space, Colour’.  What significance do each of these have for you in creating your paintings?

David Minton:  The birds and the lines might just be a romantic notion tied up in nice colours. I find myself retrospectively putting together a kind of narrative around the work, based upon conversations online and in person. The idea of ‘two birds, two lines, colour, space’ was an attempt to avoid commitment to meaning; commitment to meaning makes you vulnerable. But it may be that without meaning there is only space, so in a sense I make my paintings by accident, but knowingly so.  The central space created by painting ‘at the periphery’ has a tension that is constantly pregnant with possibility.  In order to remain so, the tensions of space are never resolved, but continue and it is this continued lack of resolution that forms the overall content of the picture.

The lines, complementary colours situated adjacent to opposite sides of the canvas, are complementary in an antagonistic manner.  There is a kind of standoff. The bird at the top of that picture is perpetually echoed by the ‘shadow’ at the bottom. The two are ‘me and not-me‘, ‘being and not-being’, a resonance. Working on from that, so are the lines and the space. I have a feeling of something that is almost not-there and this may be connected to a need to repeat experiences in order that they might occur in a new way; the pregnant notion.

Birds in Progress (c) 2011 David Minton

Birds in Progress (c)2011 David Minton, oi on cotton duck, 76.2 x 61 cm, courtesy the artist

JB:  The striking thing about your painting is what is and is not there.  In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze says, ‘…real opposition is not a maximum of difference but a minimum of repetition – a repetition reduced to two, echoing and returning on itself; a repetition which has found the means to define itself.’[2]  Do you feel the unresolved element of your work functions as a repetition of your own intentions?  Does the unresolved quality oppose your intention?

DM:  I came to the notion that the arrival of a painting is an awakening. This notion of awakening connects to a thought about the preconscious, in that the business of division – the literal dividing, complementariness, image and shadow, being and not being, stands for or at the conjunction of conscious and preconscious. Incidentally, (or centrally even) I am given to wondering if we all live at this conjunction; this is where our-selves are located in between unconscious motivations and actions in the world. It is at this ‘conjunction’ that consciousness dawns, between unknowing and the real. In so far as what I do is a search, my intention, if I have one, is to step out from the preconscious. But this involves necessary returning; I have to step back each time from a slightly altered understanding. So definition occurs as a dynamic thing striving to maintain balance in instability.  The unresolved is central to what comes next.


This series will also offer reading suggestions by the artists.  These are books they have read and found informative for their practice.  If you click on a link below, it will take you to The Book Depository where you can find out more about the book and make a purchase.  Your purchase will help raise funds for the exhibition.

David’s Reading List:

Art and the Degradation of Awareness – Jeff  Nuttall

The Transparency of Evil – Jean Baudrillard

The Cultural Turn – Frederic Jameson

Art in Theory: 1900 – 2000 – ed. Charles Harrison & Paul Wood

Jane’s Mentions:

[1] From the opening paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for Psychology of Self, found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology_of_self.  This is referenced: James,W. (1891). The Principles of Psychology, Vol.1. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Original work published 1890)

[2] Deleuze, Giles. Difference and Repetition. Translated by Paul Patton. London, England: Continuum International Publishing, 2004. P. 15.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: