As we get ready to launch ELASTIC at Cork Photo Festival 2018 we continue our feature on the participating artists. Our 5th ELASTIC artist is Joanne Coates; visual story teller and OGC mentorship winner 2016.
We Live By Tha’ Water utilizes and plays with a pre-existing archive of material, deliberately mixing fact and fiction, past and present as it presents, expands and represents the various facts and theories surrounding this story in a bid to expand thinking about mental health. This story is one with a difference, it is the authors own biographical story, of how they deal with their own mental health, raising questions, showing emotions. The work walks the line between fiction and nonfiction. Questioning what it is that exists within the story. The work looks at how a mental health condition is elastic, changing from day to day, hour to hour.
People asked where I’d been and what the series was about. I told them different stories. It’s a poetic approach, an appreciation of island life. It’s about the beautiful moments amongst the bleak ones.
It’s about exploring my own mind in the midst of breakdown, looking at mental erosion and a deep-rooted anxiety with contemporary society.
Sometimes I said it was about remoteness and escapism. I explained that it was about an egalitarian way of living, a document on a way of life known to few. It was about being drawn to unique landscapes, to the edges, to hinterlands both mental and physical.
I now see that it’s about all these things – having the ability to appreciate both the bleak and the beautiful.
Stories reveal the mysteries in our world; the things that have not and perhaps never will be discovered.
When making these works, I took the decision to look both inward and outward.
As the Orcadian writer George McKay Brown wrote: “The imagination is not an escape, but a return to the richness of our true selves, a return to reality.”
You can see this work on show with ELASTIC at St.Peters Church throughout April as part of Cork Photo Festival 2018.