Cerys Knighton, whose artwork is published in the debut issue of Lucent Dreaming, is a Welsh artist and book illustrator specialising in pen and ink pointillism. Her art takes inspiration from the natural world, using a combination of nature and studies of anatomy to draw from her medical humanities research looking at manic-depressive illness. She also draws from her own experiences of bipolar, with the goal of sharing findings from the research whilst also raising awareness about mental illness. This was the aim with her debut solo exhibition at Insole Court, entitled ‘Drawing Bipolarity’. Read our interview with Cerys below where we find out what creativity and drawing means to her.
So, how did Cerys Knighton Art start?
Getting back into drawing started as more of a personal goal. I realised after I’d stopped drawing for a year or two how much of a help art had been in the past when dealing with bipolar disorder, particularly with ongoing depressive episodes. I’d reached a point with the condition where I was desperate, so I tried to make myself draw everyday and it really started to help. At the time I never would have thought it would get to the point where I would be showing my work in exhibitions, doing commissions and selling prints, it was more just something for myself. I think it really started this time last year when I had my first craft fair – the positive response was quite overwhelming and gave me some confidence. It also led to support from Making Minds who supported my first solo exhibition, ‘Drawing Bipolarity’, and now from Disability Arts Cymru as well, so I’ve been very lucky.
What does your art mean to you?
Most of all drawing has somehow become a physical space that I can become completely absorbed in no matter what else is going on. Sometimes with depressive states enjoyment just disappears from everything, even drawing, but I know that if I force into that space and even slowly put a piece together, just having created something feels like an accomplishment.
What are you most excited about right now and for the future?
Things are really quite exciting at the moment because I will be starting my PhD in September. My research project will look at Victorian bipolarity and has received funding from the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership. A big part of the project is my artwork – I investigate patient case notes, letters and medical journals to seek an understanding of the social construction of manic-depressive illness, and explore the evidence I find by creating art. I will be spending most of next year travelling around archives and drawing, and plans are being set in motion for exhibitions during in the second year of the PhD to start sharing the findings – I really can’t wait to get started!
What are you currently working on (in relation to Cerys Knighton Art or personally)?
Right now I’m excited for the next few months because a couple of my drawings are going into summer exhibitions and will also be for sale. Getting valuations for the original pieces alongside further exhibitions is making me feel like a real artist and I’m just over the moon!
I love the idea that I can create a whole image just out of individual ink dots, and I also love working without an outline because it means there are no set boundaries when I begin a piece. The fluidity of pointillism, the way that individual dots develop into textures and images, the way concepts can progress and change path mid-drawing – all of these things mean that the artwork grows organically and that theories are always faithfully explored.
How important is creativity in your life?
I don’t know how I’d cope without creativity. I get this feeling that I just need to take some of the chaos from my mind and physically put it somewhere, make something out of it. I think that’s a big part of my inspiration, just taking those racing thoughts and doing something with them. It’s particularly great at the moment to be able to focus that on thoughts about my research and my own experiences of bipolar.
Is there any advice you’d give to anyone who wants to do what you do?
Most of all stay true to yourself with your art and work at it as much as you can. Don’t feel like you have to draw things that are commercial or popular – let your imagination take your art to weird places so that it means something to you. The thing that makes me happiest of all is when people say they can tell straight away if a drawing is one of mine, I love that something shines through those pieces that makes them individual to me. I think it’s that originality that has made me so fortunate with the opportunities I’ve had, so I would say it’s one of the most important things no matter your craft.
Where can people buy your art?
Fine art prints as well as artwork printed on things like clothing, bookmarks, notebooks and greeting cards are available through my Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/CerysLioness.
Is there anywhere that people can learn about the art and research?
I now have a website set up with selections from my portfolio and information about how they explore the research: www.cerysknightonart.com. I also post works in progress and regular updates on my Facebook page about the thoughts behind new pieces, upcoming exhibitions and market events: www.facebook.com/CerysKnightonArt.