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Demystifying The Art World


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1 Yellow Faces  ( RA Summer Show, 2008 by ELF )

Making art, living art, breathing art, or at least that was the dream.  Becoming an artist hasn’t been what I expected.  I bought into the fantasy that art was somehow a way to live and be free.  That art was about expression, that as an artist I could be myself and I would be admired for it.  I was in my last year at Cambridge University studying Physics when I first developed an interest in art, enchanted by the melancholic stories of contemporary art’s mythical forbearers.  However, living the dream isn’t the same as reading about it and despite finding myself in the center of a seemingly glamorous lifestyle, photographing in Miami hanging out with brit art stars, emotionally I was sinking more and more into a hole that felt more like Tracey Emin’s bed then a Frida Kahol biopic. 

2 The Surrealist’s Picnic ( Lee Miller, Nusch and Paul Eluard, Roland Penrose, Man Ray and Ady Fidelin, Île Sainte-Marguerite, Cannes, 1937 )

The lesson has been life is long, hard and tough to endure and if there is a heaven  a place on earth, I was not in it. The art world for me was not some fantastical mystical place but instead seemed to hang somewhere between escapist fun and hollow one-man-up-ship, in short it was no surrealist’s picnic.

3 Escapist Fun ( ‘If everyone play’s a part why do I feel like an outsider?’ by ELF, 2007 )

What I was particularly stuck with was the perpetual nature of being with people, yet feeling completely disconnected.  My sense of aloneness was experienced as a sense that there was a wall between me and art event goers.  It was the opposite of oneness, I was completely separate from my fellow beings and in my separateness either experienced myself as the odd, strange one or, in defensive, thought of them as the aliens.  From this place my ‘Yellow Faces Project’ was born, I digitally painted strange ‘Yellow Faces’ onto photographs I took at art events and in the streets giving purpose to the empty feeling.     

4 Street Photography ( by ELF 2009 )

So what is the art world, what is the truth?  As an introvert and someone who is more intuitive than sensing, I cannot bring concrete things.  What I can do though is relay my subjective experiences both through images and text and in that there will be glimpses of something more universal, something that speaks not just about the art world but about life in general and the nature of being human.  For one of our species most extraordinary qualities is the capacity to be empathetic, where by through emotionally responding to another’s life and stories we can gain greater depth and understanding into our own lives and stories and through that achieve that sense of spiritual oneness that is so profoundly moving. 

Pain and Suffering

“For as long as I can remember I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety which I have tried to express in my art.” Edvard Munch

 What does pain and suffering look like?  What is pain?  What is suffering? 

( Image 1 Pain and Suffering 2014 -Ben Young, 2 BLack Tuesday - Eleanor Lindsay fynn . 3 Eleanor Lindsay fynn & Martin Creed, 4 Behind the Mask of the Depressive -ELF, 5 All by Myself -ELF, 6 Remember Forget -Diana Horn, 7 Crying -ELF )


Pain and suffering is something associated with art and making art and it was this that attracted me to the field.  I used to believe that everyone suffers, because suffering is part of life, however while that might be true I have learnt there are particular wounded types that suffer more acutely, or at least more consciously.  Working, as I do, in a suicide respite, has brought me in close contact with people who are on the front line of suffering.  Not that I needed help, I have a radar for these types of people and they have a radar for me.  However on this placement it is different, as I am holding the seat of the counselor and befriender.  Somehow it is like meeting myself, or versions of myself, over and over again.  This center is like a room of mirrors and you never know what distortion you are going to meet next, the structure is somewhat chaotic, which I feel reflects the chaos behind the life death conundrum.  

My therapy training is like that too, a room full of mirrors.  My life has become an extraordinary exercise in profound navel gazing and I am completely at peace with that.  I am even making peace with my depression, or what we call depression.  Interestingly depression is actually a defense against feeling, I do not think people know this or really understand it.  But if you think about it what people, when depressed, complain of are “feelings” of numbness, emptiness and without hope.  But numbness is different type of feeling to the feelings that flow.  Numbness is the feeling, or sensation, of no feeling.  The feelings are repressed, repressed by a system that was unable to cope with the overload of feeling caused by a lack of sensitive care.  The hopelessness is there because hope like everything else is also a feeling and as well as the painful feelings not flowing, joy, love and hope are also unable to flow. Thus depressed people are without hope.  This is why, as therapists, we want people to feel the painful feelings which is why we take them back to their childhood, for that is where the blocks are born.

This process; the therapy one, is incredibly challenging.  How to make someone feel something they have suppressed for years.  The answer is you can’t. They have to want to and most people do not want to as while they might not be feeling all their feelings, their defenses are nicely in place and they are able to exist with enough comfort.  Most people have some degree of depression but they do not know it, they have enough distraction, enough to keep them in what we call the “oral compensated state” that is the grandiose state.  For people who spend most of there time in this state they are the achieving / perfectionists of the world who are fine, that is as long as everything goes according to plan and they don’t “fuck up”.  

Now when a “fuck up” does happen, it could be big such as an end of a relationship or small such as a dinner party not going to plan, they move into the depressed or “oral collapsed state”.  Now depending on how big the fuck up and the depth of their darker moods they might after an encouraging pep talk from their friend go back to the oral compensated, grandiose state and busily go about their lives not realising what just happened.  Or they get stuck there and it’s when they get stuck that stuff can start to happen.  

When you are in this depressed state NOTHING matters.  You feel the futility of everything.  Job – Meh! Money – Meh! Life – Meh! Relationship – Meh! If you don’t have one of those you might have the thought, if only I had XXX it would be fine, if only I lived XXX it would be fine.  But this is just fantasy, fantasy being a mental activity we engage in to cope with our limitations.  Fantasy is safe (mostly) – reality isn’t, reality is extraordinarily and terrifyingly difficult to accept.  So much so I have seen women pine over men for years unable to let go of the fantasy for a future that never comes, however it is possible to live in this way ad infinitum, which actually makes it an even scarier proposition than confronting reality.   

For those who get stuck in the oral collapsed state, like I have, things get hairy before they can lead to something else.  This is where the suicide respite kicks in.  I met two guests at the suicide respite both of whom were serial overdosers, and had been hospitalized many times.  However neither, it transpired, wanted to die.  What was behind the overdosing, were two women, neither able to ask for their needs to be met, and the belief that they had to do something drastic in order to get what they really craved – love and to be heard for the sufferers they are.  However the reality was that their behavior could lead them to dying and that terrified them.  Unable to stop on their own they came to us, for unconsciously what we call their healthy self, or you could call it higher self, was reaching out.  It is this internal pull to safety, matched with people there ready to reach a hand out when they do that can keep the depressed from committing suicide and eventually lead to something brighter.  This is a very beautiful thing, for me it is probably the most beautiful thing of all, the best art anyone can make.  But in order to complete the picture you need both.  Both sides have to be working together, which is why the more public and the more vocal the hand reachers become the easier it becomes, as they can find each other quicker and safer.  

For the past couple of years my life has been about getting closer and more connected with my pain.  Not just talking about it and reading about it, but feeling it in its totality.  

I think what a lot of people do not understand is what is so hard, what is so horrific and the answer to this is, no one really knows.  I could hide behind theory but I can tell you from experience that it’s not knowledge that cures, there is no magic tap you can turn to start feeling.  However the tap has been turned and now I feel, my moods shifts are bizarre, I can feel amazing and on top of the world one moment, then chronically miserable and despairing the next.  

So this, in a nutshell, I have come to realise is why, despite its somewhat horrific nature, I make the art I do, and am following the path I am on.  I believe now, that my gift, my light is in the darkness and while it is tough there it more and more I realise how incredibly beautiful it also is.   As a result my artistic practice, which has become more and more performative and experiential, utilising all medias and mediums from painting to facebook, to the point where it has become very hard to draw the line with what is art and what isn’t.  To illustrate I will leave with you my latest facebook book, which for me marked a shift from one mode of living to another.  

Facebook August 14th 2014:   Eleanor Lindsay-Fynn posted: 

“It's got to the point where my life has become epic in how shit is. It is peppered by occasional bouts of "fun" - but I am kind of considering giving that up as it's the only thing stopping me accepting just how shit it really is to be alive. To say I wish I had never been born would be an understatement but don't worry this is not a suicide note - more a letter of acceptance. And please no messages to cheer me up, this is beyond that. My challenge to myself has been to accept life as it really is for me. I am two years into that journey and imagine I still have a long way to go - but my therapist and I reckon I am doing pretty good....

Life is shit accept it!

This is Buddhism. I finally get it. The art of non attachment. You can't non attach of you haven't yet accepted life is shit. If you haven't yet accepted impermanence. There is no end stage to grief. Grief never ends. We are all grieving. Grieving the fact that we were born and will have to die. The only solution is to accept that we are grieving. To unite socially in grief. It sounds morbid and horrific but it isn't it is the most beautiful idea on the planet. Yes I am sometimes happy - yes I have fun - but attaching to the idea that "happiness" as a constant is possible is an illusion. An illusion of painful painkillers. Hanging onto those painkillers those happy moments those distractions is what is preventing us evolving as a society. Superficiality reigns supreme depth and insight but a footnote in a world of shallow headlines.  

Thanks to five rhythms for taking me on that journey and thanks Robbin Williams for bringing home to me something I have been unable to fully comprehend.  Depression - my arse - it's life that killed him.  So what I say is fuck the fun - let's all get miserable together....” 

I would like to dedicate this post to Lita, Louise (Loo), Neil who I have lost to suicide and my cousin Georgia who died from damage caused by anorexia.  

NB:  For those who want to do further reading I recommend, Alice Millar’s seminal book ‘Drama of being a child’, the must have and well titled ‘Western Body Eastern Mind’ by Anodea Judith and the technical, but brilliant and easy to read ‘Character Styles’ by Stephen Johnson.  Each book has been of incredible importance for me.  Also if you would like to get in touch personally you can find my contact details on my website www.eleanorlindsayfynn.com  

Looks for Men SS15

New looks for men as captured in London, Milan, & Paris by FACADES actively roving contributor.

-JP SIngson, a curator, freelance stylist, occasional photographer, advocate of up-and-coming designers and globetrotting blogger of jponfashionspeed.com


Through the decades, a variety of different looks/silhouettes for men have been constantly changing to define the new masculinity.

From basic trousers to fancy frocks, designers have been in the constant pursuit to capture the new spirit.

From the classic, to the modern, whether it be a dandy, a rocker, a goth, a punk, a hippie, to the avant-garde, the conservative traditionalist or the free and radical. 

Even sometimes a fusion of all angles when a certain look or character meets another...

All aspects are considered even to the point of redefining masculinity itself, as straight men may be styled to look look like women and vice-versa...

This is Fashion.

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