Stemming from this I started brainstorming key themes I wanted to explore trying to include all I had discovered and came up with this basic map showing my thought process.
While going through my attic looking for old sketchbooks, I also unearthed my junior school choir folder, and I found a song in there called "Creatures of the Deep". Reading through the lyrics and remembering the tune, I had a very real light-bulb moment where I remembered performing that song realising how chilling it must have sounded. I managed to track down the company that licences the song here and also gives a small example of the lyrics and tune. We however were a young child choir, and we performed it with a friend of mine (quite badly) accompanying on violin and our teacher playing just the initial piano notes throughout, and thinking back, the high pitched voices and screechy violin, giving judges goosebumps for the wrong reason was probably why we came 4th in that competition. However something similarly chilling like that would be perfect to explore in this project and the memory served as a lot of inspiration for my idea.
For as long as I can remember I have suffered from Thalassophobia, which is a fear of open and deep or dark water. My fear is fully around being unable to see the bottom, and as an extension from that, not knowing what's there. My imagination goes into irrational overdrive. To name a few things, being scared by the dark grates at the deep end of a pool as a child (and now still), I've always been terrified of seaweed, and my fear has actually increased as I've got older, to the extent I cant take baths with bubbles or coloured water that I cant see to the bottom of the bath in. I believe it stems from a near drowning experience when I was very young, which I still remember vividly. However at the same time, I've always loved the ocean and swimming. I was brought up on The Little Mermaid, loved going swimming, and on summer holidays, my dad would always take me out snorkelling with him from about the age of 4. I'm absolutely fine, as long as I can see the bottom, no matter the depth, and although its no secret I have a "thing" for animals and nature, sea life and scapes have always been a favourite.
I've also always loved myths surrounding water, Loch Ness Monster, the Kraken etc, and the mystery of prehistoric creatures. A favourite book of mine growing up was 20,000 leagues under the sea, and even as a child I found a love for ocean documentaries, particularly ones around deep ocean exploration, finding new weird and wonderful species.
My idea is to explore deep water. As in, unknown and uncharted depths. Over 70% of the earth surface is covered by ocean, but 95% of the ocean remains unexplored. I would like to explore creating a realistic mixed with fantasy environment and creatures that occupy the unexplored depths.
|Year 12 A-Level Artwork|
I based my year 12 A-Level art coursework project on the exploration of the beauty of sea life, my year 13 coursework on North American animals and landscapes, combining elements of both together, exam piece on crystallisation and fossilisation of dinosaurs, and work during foundation on camouflaged animals and creating "realistic" deformed mythical beasts, all of which I feel would be helpful in my exploration of creating imagined creatures that live in the depths.
|Year 13 A-Level Artwork|
|Foundation Course Artwork|
There are also these photos which I took at London Aquarium and London Aquarium, I have plenty more and from other places too from visits over the years but these serve as a pretty good base of inspiration for now.
|London Aquarium 2012|
|London Zoo 2015|
Subnautica is also a good inspiration source for me, its one of my favourite games purely because of its beauty. I feel the creators also love the ocean and life as I do as the game is bursting with colour and the places you get to explore are incredible. However though playing the game I've also discovered my thalassophobia is so bad it actually effects me with this too, when I swim over an edge in game and I cant see into the depths below, I get the same tight feeling in my chest and need/itch working its way up my legs that I get when swimming in real life and I cant see the bottom, and I've actually turned off the game and taken a step back before because this feeling/panic gets so strong.
What I do with this created world and creatures is the question, I have a few possible ideas:
1) Have an explorative look around the created world, set to a song or poem, similar to Creatures of the Deep, showing the environment and creatures.
2) Have some sort of story/narrative. Possibly have an explorer, akin to 20,000 leagues or subnautica, delving into the depths, places that have never been explored before, and discovering completely alien areas and species. Or perhaps looking for a fabled creature.
3) Combine 1 and 2, either find a poem that fits or create one (or song) either from a story/fable or again come up with one myself, and have a "main character" that explores the world through the narrative of the poem/short song.
4) Possibly attempt to make it more of a personal project, and relate my thalassaphobia to my experiences with anxiety/depression in some way. Use one challenge to help explore and explain another.
My thalassophobia I definitely class as a fear of the unknown, as its not depth that matters, purely whether I am able to see the bottom /around me. This summer I went snorkelling off a boat in near 7m deep water, but it was crystal clear, I could see the ocean floor and I was fine. However if I looked forward into the endless blue expanse of the open ocean rather than straight down, I definitely felt the icy grip of panic in my chest, and the needing itch in my toes working its way up my legs to get out of the water. The grip of panic in my chest is the same I experience when I am overly stressed and also can lead to having a panic attack. If I'm in water and I cant feel the bottom, I feel vulnerable, exposed and very alone, and this is how my anxiety makes me feel. I am isolated and cannot see past my immediate vicinity, which is just a blur of the unknown - in water causing me to just panic, shut down and get out, - and regarding stress (usually around work), casing me to panic, and shut everything out and try and ignore the issues. (terrible coping mechanism, I know, but something I have been trying to work on). These similarities between my thalassophobia and anxiety I feel would be something I could definitely draw on/work into my project, but I'm not entirely sure how just yet. Potentially incorporating elements of 1-3 with this too.