Daniel Regan & Antonia Attwood were in residence at QUAD in late August 2016, producing new work that will touch upon the theme of ‘Habitat’, and will take the form of still and moving image works. Their work will be included within the QUAD exhibition programme during FORMAT17, in March 2017, on the D-Lab website and at the LEVEL Centre, near Matlock, during 2017. We caught up with them to ask them a little about their process and influences.1. What is your background?
Antonia: My background is in photography. I graduated from the photography course at London College of Communication 2 years ago. This is where my love for video came about as I explored how you could recreate how mental health conditions were experience through moving image and sound. Since then I have been freelancing and exhibiting work, meeting all sorts of amazing people along the way. Including Daniel.
Daniel: I studied photography both at the University of Brighton (BA) and London College of Communication (MA). During both of those instances my work and research was into the therapeutic benefits of the arts for people with emotional difficulties, using my own experiences as the initial stimuli. I come from a complex mental health ‘service user’ background and use photography to navigate my own difficulties, as well as run workshops and projects that facilitate creative expression for others also going through difficulties.2. How did the project first come about?
A: We have both been creating work exploring mental health and wellbeing for a long time. That's actually how we met. Daniel runs a website called Fragmentary (fragmentary.org) and around a year and a half a go he interviewed me about my work for the website. We ended up meeting up and hit it off straight away. We had very similar ideas surrounding our work and also really similar ideas about what we wanted to achieve within our practice. We have been working together ever since. This particular project came about on a Sunday afternoon Skype call. We were discussing the idea of Habitat and safe spaces and we just both loved the idea of working with video and installation so we came up with this project.
D: It was all very quick from our end. We work together very well and often just get what each other mean. We had seen the open call but were running out of time to apply. We bounced some ideas off of each other quite quickly on the Sunday afternoon before the deadline was due and just knew that the concept of safe/soothing spaces was a really interesting project for both of us. Plus the emphasis on pushing the boundaries of our practice was both really important to us. Antonia works primarily in video and I work primarily in stills so the idea of working together and learning new ways of creating has been really important for both of us. 3. What does your creative process involve?
A: My creative practice is now mainly in video, although I do still do a lot of photography as well. I am currently working on a project called 'Manifestations of the Mind' working with people that have lived experience of mental health conditions to explore how each is experienced individually. I am creating 7 short films created from conversations with 7 participants, depicting their stories through metaphorical imagery and sound. The project concentrates on the phenomenology of mental health. The aim is to get people to see mental health conditions in a different way, to try and actually experience what the person is going through. Rather than reading a list of symptoms.
D: A lot of my projects are in response to an human experiences; a hospitalisation, traumatic hair loss, the death of a relationship etc. I use photography to explore emotional experiences both positive and negative. It’s a way to help me deconstruct the experience and the emotions attached to it. There’s definitely an element of catharsis to the creative process and in some cases it’s highly therapeutic. I also use photography on a daily basis to help me to feel attached to the world. It helps me to focus and find beauty in the moments around me.
You can see more talk about this more in a new mini documentary commissioned by WEX Photographic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNTkdy-hJvE4. Where have you found inspiration whilst working on the commission?
A: Everywhere, but I think the thing I have enjoyed most is getting out of London into the countryside. We recently came back from the Peak District and it was so beautiful. Just to be back in nature, exploring beautiful landscapes. You can see why people find so much peace and tranquility there. Spending hours down a ravine filming a waterfall, there's something very therapeutic about that. Having the time to spend just looking and being makes the work much more profound.
D: For me I’ve often thought about the project and the idea of safe and soothing spaces when I can feel myself getting anxious. I’m quite hyper aware of my feelings and surroundings and in relation to the project I’ve had a lot of thoughts about how as we get older we learn what feels safe to us and where we can go to be soothed. I’ve realised that being out in nature and especially the act of walking (and photographing) is quite important to me. It slows me down, helps me to engage mindfully in the world around me. Being able to go to some beautiful places and create work has been really inspiring simply because it’s so different from my day to day experience in London. We’ve both realised the impact that nature can have on wellbeing which is ironic considering we both live in London!5. What have been the biggest challenges of the project so far?
A: Definitely getting around. We find these beautiful places hours from any town, just tiny villages with 1 train station. Neither of us drive so it's been difficult. Living in London you are so used to waiting 3 minutes for a tube, that you forget life isn't that faced paced anywhere else. But we have managed it and we only nearly got stranded once when we took hours walking back from Padley Gorge. We were stopping to take photos and videos along the way. It started to get dark and we did fear we would be stuck in a field all night! Luckily we made friends with the one taxi firm in the area and they came to the rescue.
D: Travel! I need to learn to drive.6. Where else can we see your work?
A: My work is available on my website (antoniaattwood.com
) I am also exhibiting my Manifestations of the Mind project in January at Freespace Gallery in Kentish Town.
D: You can see my work at my website: danielregan.com
. I keep a visual scrapbook (http://scrapbook.danielregan.com/
) where I post my diary images, thoughts, ideas, reflections etc. I also run Fragmentary.org, a web initiative showcasing and interviewing artists that explore mental health and wellbeing within their practice.
I’m currently exhibiting a constellation of images called Lights in the Reclaiming Asylum exhibition at Bethlem Gallery (copies of those postcards available here: http://www.danielregan.com/shop/lights-postcards/