Ella Thornhill


An exploration of safety and the self:

A mirror metaphor

My body of work is a personal reflection and exploration of self and safety. Half of this project was created in the Covid-19 lockdown period, which emphasized further the importance of working within my own tolerance to make myself feel safe. I focused on exploring ideas of safety and the self: how does the self creates safety and how does safety create the self?

The methodology I used was hermeneutic phenomenology, which uses the Hermeneutic circle, where understanding the whole is established by reference to the individual parts of the whole, and the understanding of each individual part by reference to the whole.

During this investigation I used object relation, attachment and skin-ego theories to help inform my insights.



In the beginning...
...the project was born, it was born through an image. An image of a baby swaddled safely and in comfort of a circular womb Blackhole like space, an unknown place yet present in essence and in feeling. Throughout this project.  I have been exploring my ideas of safety by taking the parts of this whole image, to analyses and separate further and interpret informed by experience of what each part presented. Creating a new understanding of the whole. 
Using hermeneutic phenomenology as an attempt to look at 'our' internalised sense of self/object, that may help us self–regulate and create safety for ourselves and create an insight in creating safety for my future clients. 

Medium: Pencil and charcoal on paper.
Size: Approximate=26cm x 26cm
Year: 17/9/19

In the beginning

Media: Pencil and charcoal on paper.
Size: 26cm x 26cm
Year: 2019

In the beginning… 

…the project was born, it was born through an image. An image of a baby swaddled safely and in comfort of a circular womb Blackhole like space, an unknown place yet present in essence and in feeling. Throughout this project.  i have been exploring my ideas of safety by taking the parts of this whole image, to analyses and separate further and interpret informed by experience of what each part presented. Creating a new understanding of the whole.

Using hermeneutic phenomenology as an attempt to look at ‘our’ internalised sense of self/object, that may help us self–regulate and create safety for ourselves and create an insight in creating safety for my future clients.


The Mirror Metaphor

Media: BLACK 3.0 (Blackhole) on paper.
Size: 50cm x 50cm x2
Year: 2020

The Mirror Metaphor… is of The Womb and The Blackhole and encapsulates this whole project and all its parts, seen and unseen.

All the work you see and don’t see here with all its potentiality that could have been and now won’t be, or will now go on to be expressed and explored differently due to the covid-19 lockdown.

These mirrored images are my own representation of the whole and its parts.

There are two blackholes/ womb like spaces that depict the mirroring and attunement I had to achieve with myself in this body of work, in order to understand it and myself better.

In order to explore the whole I had to split it up to see its parts a process of destructive creation.

The whole was split up and examined, analysed and interpreted many times during this year.

It was the first split that started this process off, so in symbolic appreciation of the split, there are two blackholes.


Inside

Media: BLACK 3.0 for Blackhole non-fired stoneware dome and Bisque fired baby, making it fleshy pink (unseen, under the dome)
Size: Radius= 9 inches
        Diameter=18 inches         Circumference=56.6
Year: 2019

This object situated in this image is referred to in many ways some of which are Ellastone, the belly, Safe space and The dome

The baby is inside this dome safe from the outside world.


The Break

Media: BLACK 3.0 (The Blackholes) non-fired stoneware clay (Dome) bisque-fired stoneware clay (Baby)
Size: Radius 9 inches
Diameter 18 inches
Circumference 56.6 inches
Year: Made 12/11/19,
Broke 10/3/20

On 10th March 2020, The original safe space broke. Revealing the baby inside, still safe, but no longer in darkness.


The Baby

Media: BLACK 3.0 (The Blackhole) bisque-fired stoneware (The Baby)
Size: Premature Baby
10 inches and 1-2 lbs approximately
Year: 2019

When the safe space broke I could see the baby and it looked as if it was floating weightlessly


Deposited Sediment

Media: Black 3.0 (Blackhole) non-fired stoneware clay painted in Black3.0 (Unseen Secure Base) non-fired stoneware clay. (Deposited Sediment layers) fired-clay painted with Black 3.0 (The Core/ Self)
Size: Outer layer
Radius 9 inches
Diameter 18 inches          Circumference 56.6 inches
with 8 inner layers, protecting the core.
Year: 2020 (Lockdown period)

This piece is made up several parts and is missing its other halves, both in metaphor and reality.  I have been separated from my work at uni due to the lockdown. This separation of me and my work resembles a split, and therefore another part of the whole to be explored, in order to get a better understanding of the whole.


Cradle of the Core

Media: Black 3.0 (Blackholes womb spaces) Black 3.0 painted stoneware clay (Secure base) non-fired stoneware clay (Layers) fired clay painted Black 2.0 (Core)
Size: Outer layer
Radius 9 inches
Diameter 18 inches          Circumference 56.6 inches
with 8 inner layers, protecting the core.
Year: 2020 (Lockdown period)

This image is named after an article I read that I found significantly informative to my process called “The Skin is The Cradle of The Soul”: Didier Anzieu on The Skin-Ego, Boundaries, and Boundlessness by Andrzej Werbart 2019.

Here in this image the core sits in its place at the centre in the  protection of its surrounding and caught between the gaze of the two blackhole/womb spaces.


WHOLE

Media: Black3.0 (blackhole one visible the other present but unseen due to the sphere totally eclipsing the blackhole) Non fired Stoneware clay painted with Black3.0 (Secure base) non-fired stoneware clay (Multiple layers seen and unseen) fired clay painted with Black 3.0 (Core present but not seen)
Size: Outer layer
Radius 9 inches
Diameter 18 inches
Circumference 56.6 inches
with 8 inner layers, protecting the core .
Year: 2020 (Lockdown period)

This image is not whole. I have named it “WHOLE” to highlight its non wholeness, its a representational whole, that’s been dissected, and taken apart and has been attempted to be put back again. This image however full it seems has emptiness. only the outer most boundary has its other half, creating the outside perception and aesthetic of fullness, while internally the core sits in its place with only half its layers. The other half of its layers and this project has been separated from it, residing where I left it, in the studio at Britannia Mill.


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Copyright © 2020 Ella Thornhill