D A R K S P A C E S

Dark space is the my newest collection of works, I have worked on this over the last few months without knowing I was creating it.

Dark spaces is my most raw set of paintings I have done. The purpose of these works was to express the emotions of battling with oneself and the journey to healing the past.

Instead of explaining in depth I have written a poem about the collection, which hopefully will correlate with the works and resonate with some.

I can’t find the door



The dark saw the light, and asked it to let her inside,
The light shook it’s head and closed the door with its pride.
The dark still came knocking now and again,
Begging the light for it be her friend.


The light began to worry that she would come back,
So the dark waited in the woods for the right moment to attack.
The light could feel her hiding in the coldness out there,
But it carried on glowing trying hard not care.


Then one day the light left the door open,
So the darkness slid in and the light became broken.
The light fought and it screamed and demanded that she leave,
The dark looked down and spoke ” my presence you’ve misconceived”
“I would leave right now, but I can’t find the door”.
The light became tired and fell to the floor.

As the months went by the light became weak,
The dark asked one more time if they could speak.
“Speak, go on, what do you want to say?”
The light screamed ” I want you to go away!”
“I’ll leave I promise, as soon as you see,
“That you have to open the door, it’s you that has the key.


The light looked at the dark to see what she was made of,
It was all the things the light was afraid of.
It stared and watched until it was no longer scared,
And it suddenly realised that the darkness actually cared.
The light held her hand and asked the dark to be it’s friend,
” What if we merge together and become a perfect blend.”


And there the light finally found the key,
And it opened the door so that they could both be free.

.

By Gabriella Ranito-Baltazar

THE CREATIVE CURSE

I’ve been thinking recently about our connection with our creativity and how it links to our mental health, especially in my own work and how it has influenced me.  I’ve often thought that if I was one of the lucky ones that had never experienced anxious cycles or never knew what depression really meant, would I still be an artist? If I was an artist would my work be totally different?  

Seems like a lot of over thinking doesn’t it?… but that’s creatives for you, and that’s where we get our strange outlandish ideas from, it’s also where we find ourselves falling down the rabbit hole of spiralling “what if’s” and “what is”. A question I have asked myself in the past a few times is which life would I have rather had? A life without anxiety or a life without art.  Don’t get me wrong, you can definitely have both I’m just not sure if one would begin without the other.

I’m not saying you have to be crazy to be creative, but it definitely helps, more recently studies suggest that there is a definite link between creative people and their mental health, I would presume because we are using the right side of our brain which controls all of our abstract thoughts and emotions and less of the left side which is logical and calculated. Throughout history we can see many of the greatest artists and musicians struggled with addiction, depression and some just pure obscure behaviours. Take Salvador Dali walking anteaters or Estee lauders obsession with touching people faces, the suicides of Van Gogh, Virginia Woolf and in pop culture the likes of Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse’s addiction and most recently we watch Kanye West’s creative madness unravel through twitter and interviews. There’s no doubt that there is a link but I also think as a society we glamourize bizarre behaviours and those that died before their time, would we still think the same way about these people if we hadn’t romanticised a tragic story and making it part of their art?

Realistically art is everywhere, and it is everything. From the piece of furniture, you’re sitting on to the piece of technology you’re using, the colour of your walls or your favourite song. It all began with someone who thought a little differently to everyone else, none of those things would exist without those people pushing the boundaries of what was once considered “normal”.  All our favourite songs were written through tears, even the happy ones because nobody knows true happiness without knowing true sadness, it is the ying and yang of life. Which kind of makes everything a little bit more beautiful.

Being creative is having the ability to turn darkness in to light, everything around us has the potential to be something uniquely beautiful. Again, it just emphasises the balance we need in the world and in ourselves, we are allowed to see beauty, but we must also see sadness, we can have love but we also have heartache. Hearing a dripping drainpipe can inspire a song that people listen to for years to come, a crack in a wall can rouse a concept for a painting, a drug induced dream can inspire a book that becomes someone’s saviour. So which would you rather be? It doesn’t mean that if you’re artistically inclined that you’re plagued by mental illness, just that maybe you can’t be creative without questioning existence once in a while? Because that’s what we do, we question things, we are curious, we are inventors, we make things that bit more magnificent… We are the lucky ones.

You life better on Instagram – social media toxicity

In today’s world we have two lives, the one we live in reality and the one we live in virtually. In 2020 it was stated that the average social media user spent up to 3 hours per day on platforms such as Instagram, twitter and the newest social addiction sweeping the world, Tiktok. So what is our obsession with sharing everything about us with the world?

Instagram is actually addictive, when those sweet red little hearts pop up on our posts, dopamine is released in the brain, much like when we smoke, take drugs or fall in love. So how does something that can make us feel so good be so bad? Like any addiction we are always waiting for that next hit, for the next high! But unlike smoking a cigarette the high we get from social media is little hits of approval from mostly strangers. Those likes and follows and 1m balloons all scream out, “They like me!” These people must be beautiful and successful and have so many friends, and why wouldn’t we want to be like that? I get 20 likes filling up my little dopamine belly and they have 1 million, they must be buzzing all the time, but the reality is, that belly in your brain will always be hungry for more and searching for ways to find it… this where things gets toxic.

Not only is social media addictive, the way in which we use it has become something out of a black mirror episode where everyone is trying to look like clones of one another, sharing the most intimate darkest details whilst sprinkling some gold dust on there and slapping a face smoothing filter over the top. I find it hard to grasp the irony of exposing everything and then trolling and judging anyone who does things differently. In the past 24 hours, I have seen someone being born, someone naked (nipples covered of course) someone talking about their partner abusing them. Many pictures of children who have no say weather the world see’s them or not. I truly believe the next generation will sue their parents over the exposures they post of them as children, there are people I went to school with who I haven’t spoken to in 10 years but in 10 minutes I can find out what day their kids were born, when they took their first steps, what school they go to, the list goes on… is this ok? I don’t know, we will have to see if it has any affects on their future, but you have to admit, it’s strange.

In recent years Influencers have become the celebrities of this generation, and there has been some serious influencing going on in the way we perceive ourselves, especially as women. Weather we like to admit it or not, we see these girls with perfect skin, toned bodies or even big bodies nowadays, then we look in the mirror at our pores and stretch marks thinking, “how can I look like that? “. We ALL do it! I was thinking the other day about how incredible these young women look, their makeup and hair is flawless with insane bodies, and then I realised I had never seen someone in real life that looks like that… Have you? It’s all smoke and mirrors, or more, accurately ring lights and filters. It is literally pretend. We follow trends that we hate and sometimes don’t even understand and with the world events of the past year, social media has become more and more political, and again we over expose our opinions then get hated for it, or someone else expresses their opinions and then we hate them. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that there are some good aspects of being able to expose injustice but I think everything is done with huge amounts of hate and a great lack of understanding.

In 2020 the “Be Kind” movement became a trend in the wake of the tragic suicide of British TV presenter Caroline Flack. At the time I couldn’t help but feel angry about the movement because the people I would see sharing the quotes and images were all the people who I would see slating celebrities on a daily basis. Then 1 year later we have the Megan Markle- Orpah interview and seem to have come full circle again, hate fuelled by hate, anger and aggression towards opposing sides. Social media has become a very black and white mentality with no middle ground, you either agree or disagree and nobody has compassion for the other side of the coin. I don’t remember the world being like this a few years ago. Through a screen it’s like we have forgotten that there are people on the other side just like us. A few years ago I was having a difficult time and whilst getting my hair done, the girl who I knew vaguely asked how I was, and in part I told her that things were a little tough and her response to me was… ” no way, you look so happy on Instagram”. I will never forget that. To her I was travelling a lot, in a relationship, out with friends but I was actually deeply unhappy.

Fast forward a couple of years and it’s now cool to announce your flaws, to show your stretch marks and overweight bodies, share memes about how desperately depressed you are, and even so it’s done in a way that makes the viewer feel like their being educated, or like it’s a trend. It’s not a person videoing themselves crying because they’re scared of killing themselves. It’s an edgy photo of them telling you it’s normal to feel down and that they’ve been through it too.. and my issue isn’t the people sharing the stuff, its how social media has made us think that we need approval from people for all of our flaws.

We’re all just proper slaves to Instagram, then we complain about other people who are also slaves to Instagram.. then we share how happy we are even though we’re sad or how sad we are in an attempt to feel connected. We share what we ate, where we went, what we hate , what we love. Our relationships and friendships even our children.. and then we care so much what people will think about the personal information we just voluntarily told a load of people we don’t know, and they will judge it whilst thinking about how many likes they’ll get on their oversharing. Then we follow trends that we don’t like because everyone else does it. Without realising we fall in to the trap of wanting to expose ourselves just like everyone else. We can lie, we can tell harrowing stories of our deepest trauma, we can sell products we don’t use that make us want better skin, a skinnier body, yet women can’t show their nipples. It seems that somewhere along the line things have gone wrong.

I’m an artist, social media is a huge part of my work. I post photos that look cool in my studio or selfies when I think my makeup looks good, I understand the hypocrisy of me writing this and the paintings I have done in conjunction with it, but I am one of the people who is addicted to social media and I see it for what is it, but I will most likely keep my hands tied behind my back and go along with it, because if you have a business you won’t get far without it these days.

The celebrities, the influencers and the average person who wants to thrive in this virtual world without taking the time to thrive in reality and to fill up that starving dopamine belly. So we will put a filter on and buy in to the new trends, constantly seeing approval even if we don’t realise it. There are vast contradictions of the images we see and the realities we live yet we also give ourselves so vulnerably to the world without thinking about the consequences it will have on our own mind.. all for the approval of strangers.

by Gabriella Ranito-Baltazar

The art of imperfection

If everyone wore a beige jumpsuit, or even a black one, seamlessly ironed and perfectly put together, everyday the same outfit would you want one too? Would you dare to wear something different or would you follow the rest? As much as we hate to admit it we would probably wear it, even if we hated it… because we are conditioned to believe that we’re supposed to live in the same way as everyone else, act the same as everyone else and look the same. Especially with how social media has taken over our lives and economy over the past 15 year, now more than ever do we feel a desperation and need to fit in and conform, it’s a natural thing and part of our make up.

In today’s society we are more liberal and open that ever before, yet we are more anxious, depressed, stressed and unhappy than any other generation before us. Without a doubt this is increased by the huge pressure of what we see online everyday, people with perfect skin and perfect partners. Toned figures and beautiful families, seemingly wealthy and happy… and we are now all striving for this perfection, living a lie online so that people we don’t even know think we are “living our best life”. We look at this for sometimes hours a day wishing our lives were like the person in the photo.

Perfection is unobtainable, it’s impossible and if anyone tells you they’re lives are truly perfect then they’re lying. I believe that there is perfection in moments, and in our flaws. Those are the things that make us unique and beautiful, and this is something I always try to portray through my art work. The cracks and breaks in the paintings represent these “imperfections” in our lives, that actually make our lives beautiful and give us a story to tell. The gold reflects how our damaged bits made us that bit more special. Like the Japanese art of Kintsugi, in which they repair broken pottery by using gold lacquer, that creates the most stunning pieces. I use this as inspiration for my work and feel like it creates a more interesting view to look at and analyse.

I used to strive for perfection my work and myself, trying to be the ultimate version of what I thought I was and who I thought I should be, but once you stop trying and be yourself for all the good parts and the broken ones you will be ultimately happier, and a lot more interesting than a person who is trying to fit in with the crowd.. If we just let or golden breaks shine a little more we could all be the art of imperfection.