Cultural Storytelling: Shivani Khoshia, Chantay James, Amber Bardell, Ruhkia Johnston & Elly Lynn

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

How are contemporary female artists responding to and engaging with cultural narratives of womanhood? Hosted by Millie Norman and Georgia Keeling, this panel invites visual artists Shivani Khoshia, Chantay James, Amber Bardell, Ruhkia Johnston and Elly Lynn to discuss how they are reclaiming and retelling modes of cultural storytelling and its male gaze - from art, mythology, psychoanalysis and literature.

Becoming Water - Shivani Khoshia

MN: Many of you engage with the Renaissance in some way in your work. ‘Renaissance’ means “rebirth” - what role does rebirth play in your work? How does your work function as an act of rebirth or regeneration - for yourself, your subjects, or the tradition or space within which you are working?

SK: For me, the creative process is an endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth, much like everything else. This cycle is occurring on multiple levels simultaneously: in every breath, thought, sensation, relationship, and endeavour. In a breath, the cycle is super short: an intake replenishes every cell in the body, and an exhalation expels the unnecessary. The entire life cycle is present here, and we experience it around 20,000 times a day! In meditation, you can consciously elongate that process and observe the magic of that cycle. In an artwork, the process can be any length of time: from a second, in a single brush stroke to a lifetime, the sum of your experiences written on your body.

RJ: My art often depicts black females, empowering a community which has been underrepresented in the arts for too long. The wavy, African print material cut-outs root each piece in rich African-Caribbean culture. This is my own way of reviving, or even just pushing, a different narrative into the art scene.

I like the idea of renaissance being a regeneration of creativity and learning. Themes of reflection and introspection also run through my collection; the figures can be seen deep in thought, or staring meaningfully into the distance.

AB: The theme of rebirth is quite evident in the process of art-making in itself for me; I try to allow myself to be impulsive and have the freedom to grow in some way during my creative process. Freedom to manifest the work in whatever way I feel at the time is a sense of rebirth. The subject of a nude connotes the natural state at birth as well, and has been something I often return to when depicting figures.

I also feel like most current art is reinventing in some way; I'm often responding to art from the past and using elements in a more modern context.

EL: I’ve never thought about how my work works as a cycle, but it must do in terms of a cycle of ideas and then creation. I feel like I have periods where I can feel ideas brewing if that makes sense? There’s a week where I’m thinking about all of the different versions of these ideas and then really suddenly, I’m ready to make them and get overwhelmed. It’s then a process of spending a few days working at them, but with oil paintings it's much longer and much more of a struggle with motivation! I think oil paintings actually really intimidate me. I’ll draw out a canvas and then just spend months being scared of starting to paint.

With big paintings I never really have a set plan either, I know what figure I’ll draw, but most of the content and whatever background I make just makes itself - the canvas summons it! Sometimes I question whether I should enter the painting with more of a plan - maybe I’d come out with better paintings - but really, I want them to have a life and force of their own. I think in a more theoretical sense, it’s an act of regeneration, because with every piece that I like the outcome of, I feel like I have developed a bit as an artist. I’ve learned a new motif I want to explore, or a new way to represent the form, maybe a new way to use the materials. So it’s always a rebirth or a regeneration, because every time I make something I change.

CJ: Rebirth plays an important role within my work through context, mediums, subjects and myself as the artist – I am constantly learning and developing as an artist. Essentially my work is a recreation; an element of modernity to a historical era and traditional context by introducing new women, mediums and overall a new context. The idea of re-birthing within ‘Revelation’ questions and explores a form of re-enactment, restoration, reinvention and renewal. It ‘rebirths’ a new woman and allegory through reclamation, by inserting her into these well-established paintings and eras. Uncovered, revealed and found.

I think the idea of regenerating within my work, even without the Renaissance theme and historical connotations, still exists, as it allows the subjects themselves to feel reborn through a new-found confidence and empowerment. To be the main subject within any subject matter or institution as a minority is a movement within itself. It is also interesting how the female body, being placed within these Renaissance spaces, questions the idea of the ‘Renaissance woman’ - one who knows a lot and takes interest in many things. The irony.

'The Bloom Of Vitruvian Woman' - Chantay James

MN: Shivani – there is a real sense of expanse, interconnectedness and timelessness to your references: geographically (India to Italy), historically (ancient Mesopotamia to 19th Century Germany) and culturally (Shakespeare to contemporary spirituality). How do bring these far-ranging references to a meeting point, or in what ways do they intersect and speak to each other? How do you breathe new life into them in a contemporary space?

SK: Our constantly changing experience means, wonderfully, that we are constantly evolving. With each new experience, an opportunity arises to learn something new because it inevitably conjures a challenge. I process these challenges through art making. I feel like references naturally swim into my experience to help me make sense of the world. At the same time, I feel like everything is connected, much like air connects all living beings. And so, no idea or subject ever feels foreign. And either consciously or unconsciously, I always return to the topic of chakras. Chakras are wheels of subtle energy in the body which hold all aspects of our wellbeing and form something like a map of the soul. For me, everything is connected through this system – the planets, the elements, animals, myths, food, crystals, flowers, everything.

GK: Elly – while your work references art history, I noticed some aspects that seemed very Freudian. What role do cultural references, such as psychoanalysis, play in your work and how do they interact with your engagement with art history?

EL: Freudian theories are certainly a big part of the ideas in my work, although they’re not necessarily something at the forefront of my practice. Most of the time, I don’t form ideas for work with a specific meaning for them in mind. I’m not creating pieces of work that I want the viewer to see psychoanalyst theories within; it’s more about the thought process that leads me to these pieces. I’ve always been interested in psychoanalyst theories. I think a lot of my own interpretations or versions of Freudian and Jungian theories make up the basis of the way that I perceive and feel the world. Particularly how I understand and interact with the people within it.

I have an on-going series of illustrations where I take images of the female form from porn and combine these with tentacles that surround the bodies and enter the bodies. This work was inspired by the idea of the Madonna-whore complex Freudian theory. I think porn is basically the most intense manifestation of the male gaze, so I questioned how combining these female forms with gore and distortion affected the male gaze. I realised that a certain amount of distortion and abstraction of the female form act as a deterrent from the male gaze, because if the gaze can’t actually identify the form, it can’t affect it or make any impression onto it.

Work by Elly Lynn

MN: Amber – in your ‘People on Vessels’ series, you depict contemporary nude characters on classical European pots. They remind me of Grecian urns, which were painted decoratively with stories and mythologies, though they encompassed death. What role does storytelling play in the series? Whose stories do you hope to tell?

AB: The sole aim of this series was to liberate people by depicting a range of genders, colours and body types on these classically inspired pots which usually would have displayed idealised white figures or mythological scenes as you mention. I like that in reinventing this subject matter with real modern people, rather than idealising or fantasising, we can reclaim this space. My influences were a mixture of vessels but the Greek and Roman influences are strong. The Grecian urns is a really interesting reference, which I love for the theme of rebirth, because the acceptance of death is a big part of living.

People on Vessels - Amber Bardell

GK: John Berger suggests that traditionally nudes imply an awareness of being seen and looked at by all women in a patriarchal society, through either the use of the trope of the woman looking into a mirror to reflect her picturing how men see her, or through her looking out of the plane to connect with the male gaze. How do you feel you use the power of gaze, particularly in connection with the nude, to heighten ideas of gender roles in your work?

AB: I think that my recent work is quite playful and the gaze is not entirely clear. The characters often have their eyes closed too which definitely represents a sense of introspect or calm. I hope my figures look comfortable with who they are. When I modelled Shivani's piece inspired by Titian's 'Venus with a mirror', this took a similar spin as we wanted to focus on the introspective relevance of the mirror, as opposed to vanity. I was very meditative and comfortable working with another woman that I respect.

CJ: How do I use the power of gaze? In connection with the nude to heighten ideas of gender roles...

In all honestly, I don’t. When my models are recreating a particular pose, we work from the direct image itself. There are only a few cases where the gaze of the subjects may differ from the original image, because of how they themselves interpret the pose or chose to take it. Ultimately, I decide whether this works for the piece depending on which I prefer, if this does occur. This is an interesting question, as my work typically reinforces the gaze which already exists within the original pose/painting. However, one of my new pieces which I am currently working on uses the gaze to captivate the audience in a way which doesn’t challenge the male gaze, but almost uses this glance to confront the audience as a way of showing strength, being seen and most definitely acknowledged, rather than off centre.

SK: I think the most important gaze is the inner one, where we are looking upon ourselves. I believe that there is a non-physical part of us (or the larger part of our soul) which is pure positive energy and is 'streaming' to us at all times. When we are in line with that stream, it doesn't matter who is looking upon us because we are in touch with our own power. The most powerful gaze is the one used to focus clearly on the best of ourselves. As soon as we look for power outside of ourselves, we surrender it immediately. The women in my work hold their own space and they play with a multitude of roles. They could be alone or with others, but their empowerment remains the same because it comes from a part of themselves which is infinite.

MN: Ruhkia – the artists of Renaissance era nudes often portrayed their female subjects as reclining, accompanied by decorative fabrics and looking towards the viewer in a controlled manner. Your painting ‘Our Garden’ assumes a lot of these features (in its use of African wax print fabric and the subject’s relaxed, but engaged, position and demeanour) but simultaneously subverts and challenges them. How have you reclaimed the nude, and especially that of the Black woman, through shifting the traditional male gaze?

RJ: To be honest, I still have a lot to learn about Renaissance era paintings. However it is clear that, dependent on the gender of the artist or viewer, the female nude carries a different weight. I have received a few comments about the lady in my painting not being covered up enough, I’m not allowed to advertise ‘Our Garden’ on many sites and I’ve seen the nervous/ uncomfortable glances when I show some people this piece. There is still a way to go when it comes to reclaiming the nude.

The female form is sexual, but why should we shy away from that? And surely there is more to her story than just a naked black body? I wanted the lady in ‘Our Garden’ to appear quietly confident and almost regal amongst the nature. Regardless of her race, her nudity is her own.

Power of Reflection - Ruhkia Johnston

GK: Chantay – traditionally the place of the ‘surveyor’ always remains higher and more powerful than that of the ‘surveyed’: the female subjects of Renaissance paintings often are shown looking away from the viewer with downcast eyes, heads facing away or looking slightly off-centre. How do you represent and contrast the typical power of the gaze to assert either yours or your model’s direction in your work? Does interacting with or altering the position of the surveyor and its relationship with the surveyed affect the sense of agency and power in your art?

CJ: I think my work represents the typical power of the gaze, and the interaction between the surveyor and the surveyed, through control of me as the artist, and my model as the main subject. As long as we are both in control, working together through direction and comfortability, the representation of gaze is formed on a more natural basis. A sense of power and agency is also built through trust, due to working together in order to create.

When we think of these traditional paintings that I typically base my art around, they are predictably created by male old masters, meaning they were originally produced under the ‘male gaze’. There is something genuinely empowering about taking back ownership of these women’s bodies through altering their narrative: by curating and developing the rebirth of these, perhaps, down-casted, off centre or shy approaches once given to them. By actively choosing to either differ or interpret the exact pose, including the gaze, I feel, makes them less sexualised, less stereotypically ‘pure’ or ‘timid’, and more prevailing, regardless of where the subject is looking. This is the contrast I create within my work, which I believe amplifies the sense of power and agency.

'The Reformation of Danaë' - Chantay James

MN: In what ways is your interaction with art history/cultural history informed by a feminist or womanist framework? What other critical lenses or methodologies do you apply?

AB: To be honest, I don't think about my work with these critical lenses too much, but by being its maker my work is inherently rooted in a space of quietly fighting prejudice and representing who I want to see. The art world in general is very prejudiced, and I hope we can keep working to change that with what we do at !GWAK. 

CJ: I look at art history in terms of representation through critical lenses and methodologies such as Black feminism, intersectionality, womanhood, diaspora, history, society, technology, institutions and processes. There is most likely a few more. I believe it is informed by this feminist and womanist framework immensely due to the reality of being a black woman - within the creative industry, and within society in general.

I also think intersections play a huge role in my interaction towards cultural and art history, as my outlook on feminism and womanism will most certainly differ from someone outside of the same race or sexuality as me. It’s simply identifying and acknowledging the diverse factors within an individual’s life which alter our experiences. For example, although as women within the arts we fall short within many statistics and categories, for Black women, the percentage may be even lower or higher due to racial inequalities.

Sexual orientation, disability, wealth and many more factors also play a major role. I love the idea of my work acting as a form of education and celebration for many. It analyses gender inequalities through the portrayal of women within historical and contemporary western art, whilst acknowledging racial disparities, absenteeism and “the help” perspectives of the black body across art and other institutions.

The critical lenses I typically apply fall into many categories, even down to the mediums I use within my work and processes. Using this new found technology and contemporary approach such as digital art/digital collage merged with performance, photography and painting to revert back, question and challenge a period which predominantly used oil painting and sculpture is an example of that.

SK: I'd say there are multiple frameworks that I dip into. No theory is all encompassing and it works well for me to be a kind of 'feminist butterfly.' I feel simultaneously attracted to many different roles for myself. Part of me is attracted to the role of mothering, part of me is independent and high-achieving. Part of me is adventurous, seeking new experiences and emotional highs, and yet another craves solitude and spiritual nourishment. And so at different times, I'm drawn to different kinds of feminism: post-structural, postcolonial, cyber, eco, etc. Having access to multiple lenses helps keep ideas about women relevant to my own experiences. I am also fascinated by Jungian psychoanalysis, and by authors who make his ideas explicitly relevant for women, e.g. Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés in Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype.

GK: Amber – some of the features and motifs in your work reminded me of some of Vecellio’s work in its employment of flora, fauna and colour to reflect or enhance femininity or sensuality. However, while the women he depicted had thin eyebrows, flowing blonde hair and curvy bodies to mirror Renaissance beauty standards, your figures are quite ‘ambiguous’. How does interacting with these delicate natural motifs of Renaissance portraiture add nuance to your more layered and complex exploration of gender and bodies?

AB: I hadn't noted Vecellio's work before and I can't say I looked at any references from similar artists, or many references in general when I painted these. For me, the natural motifs are representative of the fruitfulness and beauty of nature, which can be synonymous with the beauty of people and hopes for a bountiful life but also somewhat untouchable. Plants and flowers can sometimes suggest or hide human anatomy and I have played with fig leaves and flowers but really nature is my favourite thing to paint. I feel no negativity towards flowing plants whereas people can be problematic!

The ambiguity of my figures is really important though, I like the fun that I can have, and knowing that I depicted a trans character and a lady from France bought it and may not have realised is the beauty of art and expressive lines. Nuances to the human figure.

Work by Amber Bardell

MN: Chantay – one feature I loved in your ‘Revelation’ series was the occasionally literal way in which you assimilated your model into the artistic/historical space – for example, in the print where your model uses the pose from ‘Leda and the Swan’, her clothing is digitally erased, revealing the Renaissance background underneath. To what extent are questions of assimilation, erasure or censorship important to the project?

CJ: I love that you used this example, considering it was one of the first acetate pieces I created, and the erasure of her body was something I was in conflict with as it was not done intentionally, and I still struggle to feel complete with.

Having said this, the questions of assimilation play a major role within my work through mediums, context and space. It is interesting how assimilation and erasure work together accordingly, although they are juxtapositions. They complement one another and, in my opinion, one would not work without the other in regards to my work. Without the acknowledgment of the erasure of Black women within this period and an analysis of their positions, the integration process would not occur. Especially because my work acts beyond the physical placement of the body into these Renaissance backgrounds.

Chantay James

GK: Shivani – Within your work, especially ‘Venus On Her Own’, there are strong spiritual connections created in the relationship of colour with chakras. How and why are these important aspects within your work and how does this create a connection between yourself and the art?

SK: In 'Venus On Her Own,' the colour palette is predominantly blue and yellow. This is related to healing work I do with chakras. Through meditation, I found the solar plexus chakra (commonly associated with yellow) and the throat chakra (usually blue) to be underactive. The solar plexus chakra is the centre of personal power in the body and is related to how we project ourselves in the world. The throat chakra is related to our ability to honestly express our needs and desires. The project was a way of raising that vibration (or colour) to improve the flow of energy in those areas. ‘Venus with a Mirror’ provided a good painting narrative through which to do this. Venus is focussing on her physical beauty: she is gazing at herself whilst presenting her body to the viewer. In my project, the mirror is eclipsed by yellow paint (to represent yellow / solar plexus energy within the body) to indicate an inner gaze and the body takes positions related to healing. In this way, myths or mythological characters take on a personal meaning related to wellbeing.

Venus on Her Own - Shivani Khoshia

MN: What roles do appropriation and adoption (of motifs, characters, spaces, critiques, or even collaging, in a more literal sense) play in your work?

AB: I feel quite hesitant to reference things too greatly because I want my work to feel my own. My studies in art history and constant collecting of inspirations means that my work can be subconciously flooded with these things, but I rarely collage elements too strongly. It's interesting to try and define my own idea of what a goddess, or a woman is and present that, knowing my research, but not directly referencing anything too greatly. It's an amalgamation that makes the work mine, yet still very familiar and recogniseable for people to come to.

SK: A couple of years ago, I started to borrow symbols, narratives and themes from art history and mythology because I was feeling frustrated in the communication of my ideas. Now I find that giving people a reference point helps them better connect to the work, and it's also fun and enriching to be able to have a clear conversation with history. I mainly use myths as a tool to talk about spiritual topics which some people may find difficult to understand: this hopefully helps viewers reach the unfamiliar via the familiar. Many works of art function in the same ways as a myth: they are widely known and explore issues well beyond their time. Inanna's descent myth is around 4000 years old, but I think it's hugely relevant in exploring wellbeing in contemporary society, because it is essentially about an ancient self-care ritual. We are increasingly taking self-care into our own hands, as our emotional and spiritual health becomes just as important as the physical. Appropriation is also a great way to reconcile the culture in which I've been raised with my ancestral culture. Bringing my ancestry into the mix helps develop a new angle on subject matter.

EL: I think appropriation of motifs is a defining factor in my work. The women and female forms I create are always contextless, so they’re always created as symbols. I hadn’t even properly realised this until recently when I started to question why I never make work with any scenes or real background. I just have no desire to paint a figure within a certain context - I think it just takes away from the interest. Recently I’ve been experimenting with casting and have found that it’s a way to isolate parts of the form and interact with them without context. It’s a way of making the ideas of disembodiment that I explore literal.

CJ: There is definitely an adoption of many elements within my work which play important roles. The work as a whole may be seen as appropriating certain spaces of western art periods such as Baroque, Renaissance and Impressionism. This expands to the subjects themselves who embody the poses.

When we look at direct space - I feel my acetate pieces also appropriate the spaces they are displayed in, such as staircases, windows and hung installations.

Personally, I think when creating work which includes themes of Renaissance, it is inevitable that the roles of appropriation and adoption may be prominent. Especially in the form of recreation, changing traditional mediums and including these intersections I mentioned earlier. A lot of these spaces are territorial and well-cherished, leaving the work open to critiques as well as an education.

GK: Ruhkia – the natural background of ‘Our Garden’ is extraordinarily vibrant and textured, appearing almost dreamlike and surreal. The title itself draws attention to the painting’s potent sense of place. How do you feel this enhances the agency of your subject – or further, that of the wider groups or identities your subject belongs to (the garden is OUR garden, rather than hers)?

RJ: I don’t think I’ve ever addressed out loud why I named the piece ‘Our Garden’. I really like that people have made their own inferences.

In the context of this piece, the word ‘Garden’ refers to the space that each of us individually occupy. The unique designs and vibrant colours represent individuality and inner strength. It is important that we take the time to relax, tend to ourselves and look after the nature around us.

I used the word ‘Our’ instead of ‘My’ for inclusivity. Although I chose to depict a black female, I wanted to ensure that my overall message transcends race and communicates with people from any background. The lady does, indeed, have agency: you are seeing her in a space she has cultivated. However, just for this moment, she is letting us in. Just for this moment, the garden is hers, mine and yours.

Our Garden - Ruhkia Johnston

GK: A lot of your representations of the female form seem to borderlines statuesque, goddess-like appearances. How does elevating the female form in this marble, statue-like way contrastingly represent active female agency in your work?

AB: I think there's a sense of reclaiming that statuesque, goddess image and making it ours. Real people being presented in this untouchable, worshippable way says a lot about self-worth and power. I want to repurpose these images for the people. 

RJ: I wanted to convey a sense of elegance within the piece, 'Our Garden'. The lady is poised gracefully upon gold and the plants gently surround her as she looks into the eyes of the spectator. Although she is sitting there welcoming you into her ‘garden’, she is ultimately the one with authority. Her nakedness, her beauty, does not belong to anyone else.

Personally, it is not the statuesque way that I have painted her that promotes female agency, but it is the fact that you can clearly see in her eyes that she knows she is capable of anything.

SK: I think we can have a very direct experience with history through statues. They capture something held dear by a community or people at the time of its making: a symbol, idea or experience. We've been making statues for thousands of years, and I think it's very beautiful to be a tiny part of that in some way. The works in which a female model is present have mainly been part of a photographic tableau vivant, where I have encouraged performances based on presence and complete agency. There is a level of unpredictability and spontaneity in capturing a performance in photographs, which I find exciting. The performances are actually quite dynamic. I find it necessary to refer to goddesses because we're living in a time where women and the feminine are being consciously elevated in all areas of life.

EL: I used to almost only use statues as a reference of the female form in my work. I’ve always been attracted to the truncated forms you often see in statues; at first, just because of the different shapes it created in the form, but then also as another way of exploring disembodiment and distortion. I loved drawing from Rodin sculptures. I’m not sure if I’ve ever actively depicted the female form in a statuesque way to create a representation of female agency, but I think I’m exploring female agency inadvertently.

Previously, I was speaking about the way I represent women as symbols in my work and imagine them as motifs. I think drawing the female form from statues certainly creates this effect, because they’re rarely drawn with identity. The statues are usually headless and missing limbs, so they’re not representing a real woman, they’re symbols. I feel like there’s also a sense of irony in the way I contrast these traditional sculptures with graphic distortion like tentacles and decapitated heads. Maybe in one way or another, I’m trying to give the figures I draw some of my own agency. Distorting the female forms I draw, and painting women in unusual ways, feels like I’m gaining some control in how I can represent myself and navigate the world as a female artist. 

CJ: I think statues symbolize strength in some sense, a teaching of history and an awareness of marching forward in humanity. Capturing a moment in time (rather than the absolute truth). I definitely feel the link between active female agency within my work and my subject’s recreation of these goddess-like, statuesque poses act as statements, reiterating the themes of empowerment and liberation.

Making this connection in my work simply reiterates the importance of acknowledging the female body and their representations across all forms. It also acts as a contrast, considering my work is highlighting a sense of neglect and absence through well represented, dominant figures.

What does this say about the figures present? Are they well cherished? Preyed upon? And if so, in what sense? Through worship or through sexual connotations? These are questions I am slowly figuring out the more I create.

MN: Elly – your work fragments and metamorphosises the feminine body through a striking blend of horror, the surreal and mythological motifs. How does applying a framework, that marries sexuality/sensuality with the brutal or horrifying, to the long-standing artistic tradition of the female nude subvert or challenge the canon?

EL: To me, the female form is the ultimate symbol of beauty, creation and life. There are characteristics that are associated with femininity, such as empathy, gentleness, a desire to give and receive care that I think are also expressed in the female form in a way. I feel like the female form carries this softness and beauty in vulnerability and connection and shows it to us without verbalising it. There’s undeniable beauty and power in the human form, and I can analyse the male form in the same way in which male form is traditionally represented as muscular, large and powerful and this attributes to some of the things we think of when traditionally describing male characteristics; however, this makes me question the toxicity in this. It’s toxic for men to always be represented as big and powerful in the same way it’s toxic for women to have only been represented as soft and without any real agency.

These things that the female form projects out, that I’m talking about as divine and beautiful, are also the problem, because rather than these things being celebrated alongside representations of the equal strength, power and agency women have, they’ve just been the only representation of women we’ve seen throughout history. I’m challenging this with my distortion because I’m taking the female form, that I see the equal beauty of vulnerability and power within, and I’m representing it in a way that I want it to be seen. Sometimes the women I paint/draw are in foetal positions and look so vulnerable and delicate, and other times they’re symbols and mythical with tentacles for limbs, but I think either way they’re challenging the traditional representation of women, because they’re in control.

Work by Elly Lynn

MN: Why is engaging with art history important? Where could it go next?

AB: I think there are some great reasons for engaging with art history; using art to learn and making my current work a gateway to understanding the past is really interesting. It's also nice to play with the influences of artists you admire, putting yourself in the mix with them. There is so much history and context behind what we make now, and it's really interesting to be able to have such freedom to play with art. During a lot of history, you'd be ostracised for not painting in the typical style, e.g. Van Gogh or The Fauvists, who were named 'wild beasts' by an art critic who found their work horrendous at the time. It's good to appreciate our creative freedoms and where they came from.

RJ: Art is often influenced by the culture and happenings of society at the time of a piece’s creation. Engaging with art history allows each generation to learn from the last and also share their own perspectives. The next steps for art history will certainly involve more technology. Perhaps that means the globalisation of art sharing, in that more and more galleries will showcase work online, allowing for people all over the world to gain access to pieces.

SK: Art history is an incredibly rich and vast resource that we have inherited and can continually draw upon for direction and inspiration. It has cast some shadows on our endeavours today; however, we can and do play with those shadows. We are living in a time where we can play with interpretations of art history, and reconfigure a new art landscape to create new meanings relevant for the complexity of who we are today.

CJ: I believe it is important to understand and have some knowledge on art history as it allows others whose voices have been overshadowed to be heard. It also teaches you about the past, educating many on things they may have not come across, through either reading or seeing for themselves. It is important because, in the future, the work we create now will eventually become a part of history. All the necessary conversations, new mediums, collaborations and vital findings we demonstrate within our work currently would be a discredit to not reach those in the future.

Essentially, art history surrounds us constantly. I think it is also vital to understand the work we chose to celebrate and the legacy of a piece which most people desire. By this I mean a lot of paintings and sculptures have a history, one which may or may not affect us directly, yet it is important to understand the relevance and history it has in ‘today's’ society.

Art history is ever-evolving, who knows where it could go next? It depends on us young creatives!



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