• My Journey: Disability

Disability is unique to everyone and I am no exception.

How does your disability effect you?

I suffer from multiple conditions, the most damaging is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). The pain is debilitating and restricts my life, including that it has a ‘knock on effect’ on everyday parts of my life; therefore, it affects my abilities to create art.

A bad day means I cannot move around and then I can’t paint. I need support, assistance and cared for every day, but in order to create I always need help to set-up and pack away. I adore the fact that when I hold a brush, my mind drifts and it turns into my solace or a short type of ‘holiday’.

Above: ‘Strange Rainbow’ by © Laura H Elliott

How does your disability affect your work process as an artist?

I have struggled for decades with physical and mental health issues. My art has always been an open or external representation of my inner self. My health reflects in my choice of colour, style and subject matter in my ‘Landscape Moods Collection’ mixed media paintings, started in 2002. 

I have created artwork from my heart from the age of 17, which has presented my life in my art, in all mediums I have explored and studied. Every piece is simply an expression of self. This expression of self does always not fit into the subject of self-portraiture. Over the years of exploring the arts I have:

  • Portraiture
  • Painting
  • Land, Sea and Sky scapes
  • Ceramics
  • Metal Work
  • Lino Printing
  • Etching
  • Life Drawing
  • Textiles
  • Film and Video
  • Photography

Did your disabilities affect your Studies of Art and Media Bachelor of Arts with Honors?

Simply put, yes. 

My disability significantly impacted the later part of my Art and Media Bachelor of Arts with Honors in the 2nd half of the 2nd year and into the 3rd year. During my 1st year and 1st part of my 2nd year at university I spent 8-9 hours a day studying. I studied both home and in university, including academic projects.

It was in 2005 that my health deteriorated and I took a year off. When I returned I was unable to attend university every day. I kept creating and studying at home and I am proud that my academic standard during the whole degree increased despite my illness:

…from barely passing my 1st essay with a 3rd (41%)….to a 1st (72%) for my dissertation. 

My disability affected:

  •  My ability to physically attend
  • My ability to create
  • Meant that I could no longer drive
  • I found the final presentation of my work a painful chore, achieved with a huge amount of physical help and support
  • It even affected my ability to carry the basics, e.g. books

Why did you put the word ‘Moods’ this collection the title of ‘landscape moods’?

Above: ‘ Torn’ (2003) The 1st piece in the ‘Landscape Moods Collection’

The title of this collection took me some time to consider, debate and decide upon. The title needed to be self-explanatory, clear and short. I never wanted the title to be an essay, just two words and I chose the two words that epitomises my mixed media painting collection:

‘landscape’ & ‘moods’

The title can be broken down into two concepts. The first was the subject matter, which is ‘landscapes’, and the second is the motivation or inspiration of my work, which is the word ‘moods’. My work is filled with complex meanings; however, I wanted it to clearly express who I am, my life, moods/ emotions and my core personality. Each brush stroke and colour used add a personal meaning to every collector of my work.

What inspired your new movement back into abstract paintings?

Above: ‘Star Man’ by © Laura H Elliott

Simply put, my abstract work is a relaxing and deeply enjoyable body of work. I felt that when I painted my earlier, more realistic artworks I felt tense and frustrated. The movement back to paint in an abstract expressionist style allowed me to relax and find true solace from both my mental and physical disabilities.

Above: ‘Dodge Punk’d Viper’ by © Laura H Elliott

What are you using as inspiration?

Since my new movement in the later part of 2016, I have been exploring: surface textures and patterns, outline shapes, natural form and softer lines by using other mediums such as conte pastels to add softer lines, with a stark colour difference within the paint palette to add drama mood. My recent work has included a new set of fluorescent colours which adds a glow to each piece, transforming into a soft glow under low lights.

Above: ‘Spotty Punk’d Leopard’ by © Laura H Elliott

How do you incorporate the natural elements of: water, earth, fire and air?

It is since January 2017 that the opposing or contrasting elements: earth, wind, water and air have becoming a common thread. I have used an array of photographic images I took myself of UK public areas to draw inspiration from as well as drawing from my wealth of visual images in my mind.

Above: ‘Purple Punk’d Velvet’ on exhibition at 1of1 Designs with Degree Art Gallery by © Laura H Elliott

All artworks & designs displayed are © Copyright by Laura H Elliott BA (Hons), Dip

Buy my work online @ http://www.lhe-art.co.uk

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