After a hiatus of almost seven years, artist Carmen Vella Gauci has returned to the art scene with a solo exhibition of paintings inspired by mental health patients and their experiences.
“Following years of working within the mental health and special needs sector, I felt an urge to transfer the vibes I had experienced onto canvas,” Ms Vella Gauci told the Times of Malta.
“Working in the mental health sector was, at times, very demanding, both mentally and physically. I found myself unwillingly absorbing emotions from my clients and feeling their fear, happiness, aspirations and disillusions.
“I needed a vessel to pour out all I was receiving. Working within this sector has its rewarding moments and I have worked on the positive aspect, too.”
This is Ms Vella Gauci’s first solo exhibition. It will open on Friday at Palazzo Xara in Mdina.
“This exhibition is a first of its type in Malta, in the sense that my work has been inspired by direct contact... all I perceived but also what my clients told me first-hand,” she said.
Ms Vella Gauci said that another section of the exhibition will deal with paintings portraying over-crowdedness and loss of nature.
“I feel that these themes are complementary,” she said.
She explained that the use of lines moving horizontally indicate direction and over-stimulation, like in the case of autism and Asperger Syndrome. The use of colours, such as orange, indicates hope and happiness, blue indicates depth and stability while black denotes unknown.
“I also worked with symbolism, so the painting of doors and ladders symbolise a passage from one life to another, from one aspiration to another. Ladders, like doors, take us places, new opportunities, new insights,” she added.
Ms Vella Gauci is not a full-time artist but works as a Learning Support Assistant in a Church school.
“My first encounter with mental health was a long time ago when I worked in child care and later on teaching drama.
“I met children with autism, Asperger’s and other mental disorders. This experience allowed me to pour out all I encountered into my paintings,” she said.
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