Capturing Creativity Commission by Ellis Lewis-Dragstra

For 2018’s Creativity and Wellbeing festival, LAHF commissioned artist Ellis Lewis-Dragstra to capture visually some of the ideas, conversations and feelings of the week. Ellis has created this series of four powerful and provocative images summarising some of the things he witnessed and experienced attending various events. They offer a new way of viewing the week and the potential of engaging in thinking about creativity and wellbeing and the potential this can unleash.

"I Miss You" came from ideas explored through both of the galleries. I noticed a recurring theme of nature in the context of peoples health and well being. And how particularly living in a city with a lack of nature can have an effect on our mental state leading to depression and anxiety. I believe this is because nature is a part of us and being distant from it can throw off our balance. So in this piece I recreated a human body replacing parts with trees, plants, roots ect, to show how closely connected we are to the natural world. And its only natural to miss it when surrounded by man made structures.

"Mother & Child" was of course inspired from the poetry about becoming a new mother and mother hood. All the poems had a real sincerity and positive inner glow about them that I could feel was so genuine. These poems didn't strike me as being about a particular message or fact, but more freely expressing this array of emotions felt in an abstract way. So I created the image in a similar way using this mix of swimming colours symbolising the flurry of emotions within this golden almost womb like bubble as if nothing outside this new relationship between mother and child exists. The brush strokes making up the mother flowing to and from the child, like the give and gain connection between mother and child.

"Patient 264" came mainly from the poetry event day. I thought it was important to show the more negative and painful side of things for a full scope of the situation and to show that patients need more then just treatment of their condition. The initial idea was sparked by a line in one of the poems about being tired of being poked, prodded and stitched etc. They were such emotive physical words I immediately could see an image. Another theme that came up a lot was the feeling of dehumanisation patients sometimes feel. To convey that I made the background up of these haunting faces which I thought of as not actual people, but the idea of people which is what I can imagine the relationship can feel like between patient and staff in these cases. The feeling of loosing your identity outside the walls of the hospital and feeling as if you're just a victim of your condition was also discussed a lot throughout the poetry event. I showed this through scratching away parts of the figures face almost merging him into the hospital themed background. A huge inspiration for this piece was the quote said on the day "A body is just a science kit that's been away from dance". Which inspired the footnote on the image imitating the ones sometimes seen on medical diagrams of the human body,  but with the twist of also showing the emotional side of the body part.

"Yellow In The Blue" was inspired by a combination of things from both the art gallery and the drama performance days. A common theme throughout the students gallery work was about colour and shapes and how they naturally emote human emotions. So I created this face using basic shapes and a range of colours. The piercing eye in the middle of the image that stands out with the juxtaposition of detail in it was inspired from the work ethic of the drama workshops that were run with children talked about on the theatre performance day. Someone saying that the children wanted to work in chaos with no structure and the adults wanted to have a clear plan of what was going to happen and ending up somewhere in the middle of the two approaches. So I took that in consideration creating the face as a lively chaos with the one eye being much more detailed. One piece in the students gallery in particular was a painting "Bathed In Blue" belonging to one of the students I spoke to which was all about the colour blue and how it often related to depression and tried to turn that on its head in her painting. This idea inspired the bottom shoulder of the figure being all blue like a wave with a small figure drowning in it as depression can sometimes feel. But as spoken about on the theatre performance event day. Often changing your perspective on things can be a more long lasting solution to depression then medication. So I used the same small drowning figure with inverted colours on the top of the image floating, signifying that they are identical but with different perspectives. Just like shapes they can change from looking at things from different viewpoints. I used the colour yellow to signify the positivity with the negative (the blue). There being more yellow towards the top of them image and less at the bottom where its engulfed by blue. Apart from the yellow paper boat (inspired by the drama performance) that I felt was the perfect symbol relating to the water (the blue and depression) but also keeping you afloat. relating back to the belief in changing perspective, the boat can be folded into another more positive shape like a bird, representing freedom. Despite it looking different, it is still made up of the same paper as the boat it was previously, just the perspective and shape have changed.