a serious moment

about mental health

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The serious moment project showcases my conceptual art with the aim of ending stigma and opening a positive space for mental health. It's something that many of us take seriously already, and that's what I hope to maintain and advocate for. The collection will grow with time as I find passion and interest in the many areas of mental health, motivated by my own experiences and those around me. To me, art about mental health looks like experiencing our full range of emotions, from those we call positive and negative, they are all valid and make us human. I like to share the intricacies, learning, challenges, hope and self-development that we go through for mental health and tell the story in a way that feels like it captures that experience in each single piece and as a collection. If you would like to purchase any of these works, please email tamsportraits@outlook.com to make an enquiry. 

Uncomfortable
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Watercolour and acrylic on watercolour paper

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This self-portrait depicts me during the lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic. The depth of the discomfort felt during this time in portrait form connects to the colours and facial expression, allowing for the two phenomena to emotionally and aesthetically align. This work is an exploration of the discomfort of life. It can be challenging to work through global-scale crises while allowing space for the feeling of discomfort to exist without judgement. The hair, clothing and background are monochromatically connected in simple and uncomplicated ways, representing the open solitary space that is created when closing the eyes. This can be seen in the crisp lines, block colours, and smooth matte-finish on the watercolour paper contrasting to the complexity in the facial detail. The black knitted beanie represents a soft layer of comfort to the head, strength, solitude and protection, symbolising the way in which we internally experience things in our own unique way. What will happen in the world next and how expansive the effects of solitary confinement has had on our human population is an ongoing question. The universe takes us all on unique paths that lead us to life's exciting yet often uncomfortable surprises. Perhaps then, this self-portrait is a reflection of agonising unpredictability that will enter life at times.

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Selected for the Newcastle Art Gallery's Novel Connections Zine, 2020. 

Gritty
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Coloured pencil on paper

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One of the earliest moments of my resilient nature as a child was from my Year One teacher who spoke to my mother about how gritty I was at age 6 when my parents were separating. At the time I didn't know what Grit was, so Mum had to explain that to me. My Year One teacher inspires me most in my role as an emerging teacher today, because of her I want my students to know that I notice these qualities in them and that they matter more than their test scores or what’s happening at home. This turtle represents me during times of real struggle since then, when life has thrown things at me that I never expected to experience. Remembering my teacher saying that I was gritty is something that I return to when I need to take that time for reflection and make hard life choices. It is what drove me to not give up when the messy stuff hit the fan. By crawling through lava this turtle has grown a thick skin, and metal spikes that show the internal determination she has to get through the short-term burn of the lava for a long-term goal, choosing resilience over suffering. This is not to suggest that crawling through lava is a good idea, however, the evolution of this turtle means that perhaps we all can do this when we least expect to.​

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Winner of the 2020 show 'Resilience' for Mental Health Month - People's Choice - Toronto Private Hospital (view here).

Facing Metamorphosis
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Oil on canvas

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The 'transitions' theme has been a reflective process for me. Looking back over my life span and picking up a photo of when I was a child really brought home the stages that have happened since then.
My painting represents childhood trauma which I'm now facing in therapy with my psychologist. Each bullet shell represents a traumatic experience, such as family members self-harming, having suicide attempts, abusing drugs and alcohol, thieving, violence, neglect and emotional abuse.

 

Winner of the 2019 show 'See Me' for Mental Health Month - Judge's Choice - Toronto Private Hospital (article here)​

Driftwood
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Oil on driftwood

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This sculptural painting is made from a driftwood branch found at Newcastle Beach in March 2020. The painted image depicts the ocean that once carried the branch here to the shore. The expanse of the ocean in panoramic form connects to the length of the driftwood, allowing for the two phenomena to aesthetically connect. This work is an exploration of the movement of life. It can be simultaneously confronting and comforting; a constant remaking of our experience of the world. The waves and direction of the wood grain move in graceful ways, however, there are also some unpredictable times and irregularities that we must accept. This can be seen in the holes, knots and raised sections of the wood matching the rocks washed up on the beach. The pointing tips of the driftwood represent strength, beauty and hope, symbolising the way in which we hold ourselves up towards the sky. What journey these logs have been before I discovered them washed ashore is a mystery. The universe takes us all on unique paths that lead us to life's exciting surprises. Perhaps then, this driftwood timber is a metaphor for a human life. Scarred and shaped by the experiences.

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Entered into the 2020 show 'Where there is water' - Lake Macquarie Art Gallery