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BAY - The Artist

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by Tema (subscribe)
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Tap into the mental health realm with art
BAY is an artist whose original concept and eye-catching paintings have been inspired through her journey of self-discovery and self-identity. There are strong themes of mental health that interweave the patterns and designs of her art work, in addition to her recent knowledge of hailing from Polynesia.

Promo poster (Photo courtesy: Adelaide Fringe)

Read up on how BAY was inspired to put together the Mind Maps exhibition, which is running till March 12 at Hughes Gallery in Fullarton:

What inspired you to come up with the artwork?
My work is inspired by my Polynesian background. I didn't actually know I was Tongan growing up, so the work has been quite explorative for me. My personal experiences with mental health have greatly influenced what I do. The paintings usually start because of a feeling I am trying to escape from or work through.

What is a typical day of coming up with a concept for you?
No two days are the same! It really depends on how I am feeling. Often it's when I start to feel anxious and unsettled and I think to myself "Oay, when was the last time I painted?" When I realise it's been a few weeks, I stop what I am doing, clear the kitchen table and start fresh! I feel so much more relaxed after!

Is this your first time at the Adelaide Fringe?
100% Fringe first timer! At this point, I am really trying to build my audience and raise mental health awareness. Adelaide Fringe works hard to support all artists. It's a great way to gain exposure as an artist and there is this awesome buzz in Adelaide where everyone is in the mood to be part of something exciting and creative.

What is your target audience?
I didn't start with a specific audience in mind. The feedback so far is from people of all ages - children, parents and even some grandparents.They love to look and the longer they look, the more they see. They find the paintings really calming as they follow the lines around and around. People see shapes or outlines of animals that no one else can see. I think it is so cool that every single person can have a different experience and that experience is specific to them.
You don't have to be an art enthusiast to look at my work. If you find any kind of connection with the work, then YOU are my audience.

How did you get involved with the Adelaide Fringe?
I had been looking for a place to exhibit my Mind Maps for a while, when my application to exhibit at Hughes Gallery was successful I jumped at the chance to have the spot with the Adelaide Fringe.

Where else have you taken your art?
I have been fortunate to be part of many group shows recently- last year was pretty busy for me! I showcased at RAW Melbourne and RAW Adelaide. During SALA last year, I had a piece selected as a finalist in The Advertiser Contemporary Art Prize. It was on show at Keith Murdoch House, which was a huge honour! I have also had a couple of pieces shown in Melbourne; The Albert College Art Fair and The Mission to Seafarers Art Prize (finalist). In December, I was a finalist in The Korea-Australia Art Prize in Sydney. You might have seen my framed prints popping up in café's all over Adelaide too (currently at Argo, Nutrition Republic and Mondiali Café).

As a first-time attendee, what should your audience expect from the exhibition?
Expect an explosion of colour! Be curious, get up close, stand back and find 'your one'.

You spoke a bit about your focus on the balance between art and mental health. Tell us more.
It's that typical saying, "Turn a negative into a positive".

Painting and drawing have always been a way for me to deal with my depression and anxiety. It wasn't until my boyfriend told me that I'm 'more sane' when I paint that I thought of doing it more often! When friends and family began to see my creations, I found it extremely confronting because they had come from such a personal and private place. Amazingly, they found calm in them and wanted to see more!

I want to remind the people that are fighting their own battles two things:

-What you are feeling is not a reflection of you. Some of my paintings came from dark places, and no one that saw them felt anything but relaxation and calm.

-Those bad thoughts are not necessarily a bad thing. They are just a temporary feeling swirling around wanting something to do. Let them out because they are only going to turn to poison if you leave them your head. Throw some paint around; draw in a book, on paper or on a wall, a closest (maybe not with a permanent maker!) scribble something on the pavement! Just let it out. You will feel an instant weight off your shoulders.

There are so many good articles on the benefits of art therapy. You don't have to be a practicing artist to get involved, but you may just become one!

Is there anything else that you'd like people to know about you and your artwork?
I have partnered with Headspace Australia, the national youth mental health foundation where I donate $5 from every sale. They do such great work with providing support to those in need, in addition to raising awareness. I know I would have loved more education on the topic growing up and now we have the chance to do that.
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Why? BAY's artwork possesses a stronger, deeper meaning that correlates to mental health & identity crisis
When: During Hughes Gallery opening hours
Where: Hughes Gallery
Cost: Free
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