In the Artwork Spotlight series of blog posts, The Layered Onion highlights a specific work by an artist in the community. These works could range from short stories to visual art to music and more!
Today, Carrie Ravenscroft (she/her) will be sharing several images from her project “ADHD.” Before we delve into the art, a little more about Carrie in her own words:
“Hi there! I’m Carrie… an artist and mental health advocate from London. I identify as queer, poly and living with a chronic disability which translates into my work.
More recently, I consider myself neurodivergent, as I have gone through a therapeutic journey that has enabled me to use my experience to support others. I aim to address discrimination, stigmatisation and ignorance in my work, in a way that is tolerable through colourful, whimsical and nonsensical paintings.”
Carrie holds true to these words in her ADHD project.
She describes it as:
“What I have put on paper is a direct expression of what is going on inside my head and the truth is that I don’t know which thing is relevant. It’s a misconception that people with ADHD simply lack attention span, when the reality is closer to lacking attention span to the ‘correct’ things, within the ‘correct’ context – the inability to correctly filter out the world. I have so much going on inside my head that I can rarely prioritise what needs to be focused on, which feels chaotic. Often this leads to overwhelm and shutting down entirely.
This series is called ‘ADHD’, which involved me pouring out of my mind as much as I could! After 33 years of dealing with mental health struggles and not knowing how to appropriately handle my thoughts, feelings and sensitivities, my body was hurting. I was tired, aching, my skin burning, my brain buzzing in all the wrong ways. All that trauma and the concerns I had for the world needed exporting into imagery, and this was the result.”
Carrie participated in a Q&A with The Layered Onion, expanding further on the work:
What medium and materials did you use for the work? Was it the same for both?
They’re both watercolour illustrations on A3 paper. I mixed it up a little by also using highlighters, black fine liners and sharpies. Watercolour is my way of expressing and releasing emotions, but I recognise that I’m always drawn back to outlines and control. I’m ok with that for now. I use small paper because of practical reasons and painting in a small space (my bedroom)…. making a series of images helps me create that big artwork, piece by piece.
Are there other images in this project for people who want to explore more?
Yes, there are currently five in total, although this remains an open-ended project, therefore when the mood sparks I may continue…. Eventually, I plan to stack and display them in the form of a tall doll house, featuring lots of individual rooms and stories. You can see the series at www.carrieraven.com/pandemic.
I love the contrast of the grey and brown background with the pops of color. It brings to life the concept of a busy mind that shifts around to different topics. What inspired your use of particular colors?
Thank you! That’s something I enjoyed creating and want to expand as a style. It does kind of feel like it symbolises lots of passion & hard work combined with giving up and not finishing what I started. That represents the chaos in my mind, how it’s so full of ideas and memories, and how it intermittently stops functioning when overloaded with info. It’s not fun, yet I’m also aware that shutting down helps me cope.
Your art has a well-balanced sense of space. You use a combination of written text and visuals to create a nuanced and intimate picture of the inside of your head. What guides you when you are designing the composition?
I listen to music a lot (mostly trip-hop) and podcasts on psychology whilst painting, which really keep me in the flow. It also balances and regulates me; simultaneously silencing the nonsense in my brain whilst filling in the painful blanks that will ultimately follow. The text must subconsciously derive from those, haha! But also, a lot correlates directly to the ideas of each image, kinda like I can’t risk the unknown or ambiguous. I used to get frustrated at my literal depictions but actually, it’s very self-soothing, so I think I will do this more.
You use a variety of spaces – how did you choose which rooms (bathroom, etc.) that you did?
I tried to keep a consistently simple room structure to let my imagination run wild within. It reminded me of art therapy, where I was building myself a safe boundaries space, before giving myself permission to offload my thoughts. These spaces are all imaginary though and perspective skewed, however the concepts still remain truthful. I guess the room ideas came from lockdown and seeing the same rooms over and over again. And how I wanted to bring some meaning and depth to my physical surroundings. Or to get the thoughts glued inside my head…. Somehow outside me, but keeping them contained to some extent because they’re fragile and private.
There are also surrealist elements that stand out in the pieces. Do you use elements like this a lot in your work?
Although I sometimes struggle with symbolism and the unknown, for some reason I absolutely love surrealism!! Maybe it’s a form of sublimation, twisting reality and taking control of my thoughts… through art, which isn’t unhealthy for me. It’s an escapism from the pain of life. It gives you the freedom to play and make mistakes because you create the rules, no one else! The things I struggle with artistically, ie correct perspective, colour tones, neatness, finished pieces, or drawing hands & faces (uggh)… I dont have to be perfect. I can mess up and still have fun.
You can see more of Carrie’s work on her website and Instagram @ravenscroftcarrie. Go check it out!