“Dealing with my own mental health as well as knowing that being creative is utmost important in managing my mental health, motivates and inspires me to continuously explore my creativity and conceptual photography.”

Name: Marius Els
Art Materials: Canon EOS7D, InterFit Lighting Kit, Photoshop CC and prints produced by https://www.tapestry.co.uk/print/

Where does your inspiration come from?
One of my favourite past times is to visit and get lost in the galleries and museums of London, finding inspiration in the creativity, details and craftsmanship of all the wonderful artists through the ages. I think artists are automatically drawn to what inspire them and therefore I am inspired daily by life and objects around me. Dealing with my own mental health as well as knowing that being creative is utmost important in managing my mental health, motivates and inspires me to continuously explore my creativity and conceptual photography. I think it is also important for me to draw inspiration from my own life experience and all the elements that make me unique and different.

Tell us about your creative process.
I trained as a portrait photographer but for the last year and a half I have been passionate about conceptual fine art photography, expressing my thoughts and ideas in a surreal, colourful and theatrical way using digital manipulation and digital collage. Each project consists of research, planned modelling, props and landscape photo shoots from which I gather chosen images to create the final image. I also love getting involved with props, costume and hat making to put my personal stamp on the image. The whole process can be excited and even emotional as a lot of topics are close to my heart and personal. There is nothing subtle about my images with bold themes and colour that are strongly influenced by spending many years in the theater world. Each prop, subject, model and landscape is carefully lit, photographed and edited with blending filters and brushes in Photoshop to create the final result.

 

What is the story behind your artwork, if any?

I like to explore a subject through a series of images, in a way I am exhausting the subject which gives me some closure and then ready to move onto something new. There are usually one or two images out of the series which I will like but the whole series, process and journey is close to my heart. Here are a few examples:
 
Seasons of the Mind
 
Seasons of the Mind is a series of six images that was invited for showing at the Dragon Cafe for artists in London earlier this year. This series is a project about Mental Health. Bright, fun and colourful images that draws the viewer in, closing the gap between audience and the stigma towards mental health. Each image expresses a multitude of emotions and feelings and the complete series covers symptoms of illusions, paranoia, depression, manic attacks and much more. I created this series to help me come to terms with my Bipolar diagnoses and to explore my feelings and emotions during different stages of manic and depressive attacks. In a world where we act and pretend to be ok to fit in, we often forget how we really feel and to take care of ourselves.
 
Flying Lessons
 
Flying Lessons is a series of four images. One of the big questions for me was how to integrate back into society after isolating myself for many years through my mental health issues. This continues conversation in these four images between the mime artist and the seagull, teaching the artist to fly, represents the struggle I have with myself in how to become a functional human being in society. In the final image there are the realization that this might be a life long journey to recovery. The book ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull” was the inspiration behind this series.
 
A Dog’s Journey
 
This sweet and nostalgic series is about my dog and the loyalty, kindness and patience he showed me through the years. I have a firm belief that my dog plays a huge role in some of my recovery that has taken place since I bought him as a puppy. Charlie Chaplin was my inspiration behind this series.
 
Talk for Health
 
A series of four images. Talk for Health is a course developed and presented by Nicky Forsythe, teaching listening and talking techniques to take part, facilitate or lead a group of people in nutritious conversation for emotional well being / group therapy. Our final task was to bring 4 items, images, poems or to talk about what touched us the most during the 4 training days at the Mind Hub in Archway, London. I created 4 conceptual photographic images to represent this task and used the films, Alice in Wonderland, The Nightmare before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands and James and the Giant Peach by Tim Burton as inspiration for these images. Each image is constructed with a studio shoot of myself, themed objects created and photographed in the studio, backdrops from my personal photo library and then build with digital photoshop elements and filters to create the ideas and themes of this series. The final results are rich and surreal images where the subject matter varies from dark to light hearted madness. The chaos of the images represents the complexity of the mind and grey shades of life and happened unintentionally by following the subject on each training day that was important to me.

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