Alessia Camoirano Bruges
Every time I can’t sit with my emotions or I do not understand why I am feeling a certain way, I just start painting and the world slows down for that moment and things start making sense.
Please share a bit about you and your artistic background.
I’m Alessia Camoirano Bruges, I’m an Italian Colombian artist and film-maker based in London. My work is a study of identity, belonging, nature and mental health using colour as main language. I have always been attracted to the arts and creative work in general, I have always used it as an outlet to express all the emotions that growing up I could not understand. My mother was an artist and engineer, my step father a film director and I was lucky to grow up in a very artistic household. I had time to experiment with different media, in fact I work as a documentary film-maker and artist. I moved to London after living in many countries around the world and studied at the University of the Arts London where I was able to study more in depth colours and how they affect our mood and how we can express ourselves through the use of colour. I related to this as I have always felt emotions in the form of colours and saw emotions as colours. As a child, I had a diary where I wrote all my feelings and emotions and next to it I would have colours which represented those feelings and emotions and I would then just use colour as language.
Could you share a bit about your mental health?
I’ve had a quite complex journey (as we all do) but I’ve been recovering over the past three years since I started doing EMDR, DBT and have gotten a new therapist who does not look at my diagnosis but actually listens to me as a person and developed a therapeutic plan for my needs, which has changed my life.
Recovery is not linear, there are moments where I feel I am back to square one and emotions take the wheel of my existence. But I have learned that those days are meant to come and with the tools I have I can ride it out, one day at a time. I am able to identify the traits that damage my mental health and take a step back, before I could not make this distinction.
What is hard, and I think some people do not understand (which is why I hate when life coaches message me on instagram saying “you can see the light at the end of the tunnel”), is that the mood swings or anxieties are here, they are real, they will stay but I can identify them and take a step back. It’s the most difficult thing to do because people expect me to act like nothing has ever happened or look at me succeeding in something and think I am 100% recovered - it does not work like that. I’ve learned how to ride these emotions and anxieties out, but it does not mean that I don’t have them. They don’t have control over me but it’s hard work, a battle in my mind.
'MY BODY/THEIR HANDS/THEIR EYES'
How is your work influenced or informed by mental health?
As I mentioned before, my works are emotional responses to identity, nature and human experiences using colours as the main language. Feeling emotions very intensely and having struggled with my mental health, I found solace in art, letting go of the pain and exploring emotions through painting. I believe art heals and is fundamental for our mental health. For each painting I invite the audience to practice mindfulness while observing the artwork, allowing any emotional response that might arise. Everything about my art is about mental health, it always comes from a place of reflection on how colours can tell a story and help others tell their stories too and raise awareness, hopefully fighting stigma.
Do your creative practices help with your mental health and wellbeing?
Having struggled myself, painting allowed me to let go and process my emotions. I can’t even imagine not painting, every time I can’t sit with my emotions or I do not understand why I am feeling a certain way I just start painting and the world slows down for that moment and things start making sense or I can accept them. Having said this, I still struggle, but art is a tool that I can use to feel better or less heavy. My art is not just about the act of painting per se, but the reflection and methodical approach that I take before painting and applying mindfulness after I painted. So I write a lot about why I painted something and the meaning behind it because for me that work is as important as the act of painting.
'I Belong Deeply To Myself'
Please talk through one of your pieces with us.
A piece I’d like to talk about is 'I belong deeply to myself'. What does it mean to belong to yourself? 'I belong deeply to myself' is a painting about finding yourself, loving yourself and finally experiencing a deep sense of belonging in your own body. Having struggled with my own body image and identity, I imagined how it would feel to finally accept and love myself. I felt I did not belong anywhere until I realised that the most important place to belong to is ourselves.
Using fluid colours and colour psychology, I wanted to convey a sense of fluidity and melancholy in my search for who I am. As I was painting I repeated to myself “You are all you have. You come to this world with this body and it’s the only one. Look after yourself because no one will ever do it like you do. Embrace who you are and your roots, your body is your home. You carry yourself everywhere you go.”
We live in a time where actually belonging to ourselves feels like a utopia. We have to ask permission for everything, especially when it comes to our bodies and mind and that makes loving ourselves so hard as some parts of society want us to fit into binary thinking. How can we love ourselves when we are told that we are flawed and wrong?
In terms of process, I chose colours using colour theory and colour psychology to evoke emotions and feelings as well as listening to empowering music in order to evoke intense emotions. I then finished the artwork with resin.
Any lessons you have learned from your artistic journey and ongoing practice?
The biggest lesson is to take it one day at a time. Not be too hard on myself. I’ve learned so much about marketing, business, photography, you name it! So if you, in your heart know that what you due is valuable, don’t let others tell you otherwise.
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