Aura, acrylic paint, gouache, poster paint, spray paint, silver leaf and foil on canvas, 100x100 cm, 2013
Aura is a painting I made to represent a psychological idea in a way that can be seen. The concept is about personal barriers and boundaries. I imagined a membrane that can be used to help preserve the self in difficult situations or from elements in life that can wear you down. Sometimes when people have a lot of exposure to suffering they can become desensitised or shut themselves off. I believe this can be reduced through a psychological protection whereby you can allow people in, you are accessible, in touch and connected, but not overly exposed. You have multiple layers.
If a situation is particularly hard the membrane can become denser, with reflective fragments, allowing you to rest and have some privacy without changing environment. When contact is healthy and you are in a place that feels safe the membrane can be more transparent, softer, welcoming and warm.
In work as a supervisor for therapists and social workers I have at times encouraged them to develop their own aura, perhaps wearing something to remind them of this throughout the day. It is a method I use myself and have found helpful in many contexts - as a therapist exposed to transference, projection and trauma; and as a person navigating the world. It's particularly useful on the London underground in rush hour.
The painting went to a new home yesterday, which prompted this post. It was made at a similar time to Habibi, and Snow (below) these have the same scale and similar materials.
Aura detail, and Habibi, Snow and Aura, mixed media on canvas, 100x100cm, 2013, made in Bermondsey, London