Samantha Humphreys

Art, Photography & Inspiration

Category: Art and the Environment

Playtime@London Art Fair

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Smartphone Social Media Performance series (2020)

Thank you to all those who contributed to this project, some were on the wall, some were part of the performance.

Harry Humphreys
Louise Wells
Tamsin Bartlett
Josephine McGuinness
Rebecca McGuinness
Pryle Behrman
Michael Spakowski
Bradley Tearle
Bethany H 
Alex McGuinness
Sonya Bones
Cristian Frias
Gabriele Höhne
Stanislava Andreeva
Sophie Clark
Ana Bruque

Eternal Musings (working title)

Mandalas

Last week I took part in a drawing session at the university I teach at. The session is student led and this particular workshop involved choosing a print out from a list of well known, course relevant and extremely well chosen texts that we had to annotate in any way we pleased in a creative way.

I chose The Time Machine by H.G. Wells Pg 48-49, not a book I have red interestingly enough but the text spoke of hope for the future, new growth and a hint that humanity has not yet destroyed the earth. This, coupled with my interests in mental health, wellbeing and my desire to, indeed, save the planet. I found that I started developing Mandalas on the page.

This piece here is not my first attempt in the drawing session, the idea of the session is that you think as you draw, there is a time limit and I soon realised that I did not have the right tools with me to properly develop so I saw this as a preparation for a more developed piece.

The Mandala has many meanings culturally and in a variety of religions. My interests lay in the circular design of the Mandala, symbolising the concept that everything is connected. I am drawn to the idea of a personal design that holds meaning to the creator and can be instrumental to wellbeing. The use of the Mandala in the time machine piece speaks of both healing our environment and our mental wellbeing which has become increasingly fragile.

Once you get past the mathematical accuracy needed to create a successful Mandala (which I have not yet mastered) the process focuses the mind completely, there is no need for checking emails, social media or any other contemporary distractions that cause our brains to fill to capacity and inevitably, break down.

What if? is a question that has come up in my work before, but what if we could gather all the experts in the fields of : Sustainability, Climate crisis, Mental health and wellbeing to name a few….and using knowledge and science, go back to where we made our biggest mistakes and change it? Un-invent single use plastics and disposeable nappies and anything else clogging up the earth in landfill? Change the laws allowing young people to use social media? Not have social media at all? These are just my initial thoughts, but can you imagine? The time travel thing is just a bit of fun, what I find strange though is that despite watching a lifetime of Doctor Who and having watched time travel stories over the years-it was only when I placed the Mandalas over the text of a book I haven’t read, that I saw a connection between the mental state of humanity and the fragile state of the planet. A friend looked at the piece and she described it as eternal musings, which I think is a good description of what the piece represents.

I will be doing more research and developing this idea….

Playtime

 

I love my job, both of them, and actually I don’t feel like I am working a lot of the time particularly in my job as a practising artist. Because I enjoy my work, of course  do, I’m an artist and like most artists I have often been asked to undertake work for free on the basis that I shouldn’t mind or expect payment because this is basically what I do for fun and besides, it will be good for my cv (great for early career artists or an opportunity for a huge amount of great quality exposure maybe, but it should be the artists choice and never expected) but no other profession has this problem that I am aware of.

In these times of constant connection, it’s easy to blur the line between work time and ‘play’ time whether on purpose or simply because it is possible to do so. I myself am guilty of sending work emails at ridiculous times of day and night, I do this only because I would rather act on an idea or response as it pops into my head rather than risk forgetting, I do not expect a colleague to answer or respond until a reasonable time during working hours! I feel incredibly guilty though if I then receive a response at an ungodly hour or on a non working day.

These are mainly fairly conscious decisions though, but how does our free time turn into a work situation for someone else though? Well, we use our phones all the time, we switch on location and advertise where we are with each smiling hash tagged selfie.

Advertise, that’s what we do, with each post we make. Of course this isn’t a new thing, this has simply replaced advertising on plastic bags when we used to shop anywhere! We would walk away with a lovely clean crisp plastic bag with our goodies in, advertising to everyone where we had made our purchase. We only do that now if we forget our re-useable bag!

The image below is a reproduction on a wooden device of a screenshot provided by Writtle University College, Art and the Environment student Bradley Tearle.