Edinburgh-based artist has produced a series of pictures which explores living with epilepsy
Anneleen Lindsay is a professional photographer who is based in Edinburgh. She has recently produced a series of work called 'Electric Visions' which is a visual exploration of her personal experience of living with epilepsy. She hopes her work will help people to understand epilepsy better.
She has just displayed a selection of 10 images from the project in Edinburgh as part of the Transient Collective's 'Landmarks' exhibition at the Patriothall Gallery. As well as displaying her art-work, she participated in a short artist talk where she discussed her project.
Anneleen says: "The project is a sequence charting my feelings of experiencing a tonic-clonic seizure, from onset to aftermath. I've tried to express the juddering feeling and jerking at the beginning of a seizure, the sink into unconsciousness, the nauseous realisation of what happened on coming around and the blurriness of memory loss."
She has used abstract photography to express the emotional impact of having a seizure and living with the consequences of having epilepsy.
1. The Gathering Storm
Anneleen's artist statement gives more information on her creative progress, technique and what inspired the project.
"’Electric Visions’ is a very personal exploration of my experience of living with epilepsy. Whilst 1 in 100 people in the UK has epilepsy, there is still a lot of misunderstanding around it and it aﬀects everyone differently. I consider myself fortunate that mine is well controlled by medication and I have had very few seizures since I was diagnosed as a young teenager.
"When I have seizures, they are violent, full body events; I jerk, fall to the ground and lose consciousness. There are also the after eﬀects of confusion, migraines and memory loss - plus the possibility of injury. Due to all of my seizures taking place at home & within the first hour after waking up, I’ve tended only to tell people on a need to know basis, mainly to avoid prejudice due to misconceptions of what it means.
"In May 2018, I had my first seizure in 5 years. It was a shock & very unsettling, after years of no real issues. I believe it to have been triggered by deep exhaustion and emotional stress; everyone’s triggers are diﬀerent and these are two of mine.
"Over the following months I became increasingly aware of the many ways epilepsy impacts my daily life, despite having very few seizures. Memory loss, being unable to drive and having to take mornings very slowly all impact on what I can do.
"I also reflected upon how epilepsy has impacted my photographic practice. Despite loving photography since childhood, it was not until I was in my mid twenties that I could hold a camera still, due to the tremors in my hands (a side eﬀect of the epilepsy medication I was on).
"This series of work began spontaneously one Autumn evening as I considered what photos might have been possible to make with my very shaky hands. I used long exposures & tried imitating the physicality of those tremors, using the camera as an extension of my body. I was fascinated by the abstract images that formed and experimented further, as through movement and use of colour they began to express visually my emotional experience when I have a seizure and the hazy, sickening aftermath.
"I shot the whole series outside at twilight (as I couldn’t shoot in my danger period of the first light of the morning, so, as in much of life I had to compromise). The physical subject matter was nature - sea, sky, trees, rivers - as being out in the solitude of a wild landscape is a risk, but also important to my sense of wellbeing.
3. And Then Darkness
"I used only ambient, natural, fading light to create dreamscapes representing the uneasy flitting in and out of consciousness. However, I also used some interruptions of electricity, as happens to the brain in a seizure. I appropriated the distant lights on the horizon to imitate the spikes on a brain scan graph. The images are as shot, they are not cropped or manipulated beyond adding a little contrast. I wanted to keep them raw, elemental & honest, expressing the visceral, unrelenting force of a seizure".
Anneleen hopes the project to help others to understand what their friends, relatives and colleagues might be experiencing. She says: "It is an artistic rather than scientific interpretation, but as the emotional impact of having epilepsy is huge, I believe that art can help to express that and be cathartic".
To view the rest of the 'Electric Visions' collection, please click here.
To see more of Anneleen's work, visit her website and social media channels.
Facebook: Anneleen Lindsay Photography