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The Body in Media

by Rachael Horsburgh

Achieving my BA Hons in Fine Art wasn’t only four years of study, but also many more years of passion. When I look back, it was my secondary school art teacher who truly inspired me to follow my passion for art, and so lead me to where I am now. She was a very talented woman and I was just blown away by her figurative drawings. Portraiture was what I enjoyed the most, but my obsession with anime and manga had made my proportions go awry, so seeing her beautiful drawings made me turn away from that style and become more realistic.

At the same time, I was also incredibly interested in anthropology, so if I hadn’t gone to art school I probably would have gone down that route. Human beings and our history have always fascinated me, so it’s no surprise that this fascination spread over to my art work. The recurring themes of nature, evolution, psychology and how they impact humans as a species became prevalent in my work.

Combining portraits and figures with different artistic mediums, my work focused on how images had been created, manipulated, had meaning placed upon them, and discussed the history of female form in art and media. In the present day, images of women are notoriously manipulated, which has led to the current rise in body insecurities and mental health problems associated with a body image that is no longer real or attainable.

Taking inspiration from advertisements and their manipulation of images, my work layers digital images and artistic mediums over and over to create a 3D image, so mirroring the layers of societal culture that have subconsciously shaped me and raised my own insecurities. Obviously women are not solely targeted by today’s media, however, my work is a direct result of this manipulation on me.

Out of the 14 other students I exhibited with for my degree show, I and another gentleman were lucky enough to be awarded the Society of Scottish Artists, SSA, invited graduate award. This award meant that my image, no.2 in the What Am I series, was selected for exhibition in the Royal Scottish Academy building, Edinburgh.

After having jumped from trains to buses to deliver my artwork down to Edinburgh for the exhibition, I was completely overwhelmed that my work sold within the first week of the four-week long exhibition. It is hard to describe the feeling of jubilation at seeing a little red dot right beside your hard work and knowing that someone has taken the time to purchase a part of you.

Since university, I have moved into Elgin’s first artists’ studio, MC3, and have had a few smaller exhibitions, a couple of art teaching jobs, and have suffered terribly from artist’s block. University, and just the study of art, has been a huge part of my life, having always been in education. Stepping into the wide world as an artist is a shock that no one can prepare you for, but, for now, I am letting the paint lead me to where I will go next.