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Mansions in the Orchard: Liz Atkin on Finding Sanctuary in Art

Liz Atkin is a visual artist based in London. In September 2014, she collaborated with the Museum of the Mind as part of our co-curation of the Dragon Cafe.

On 22 Sept I was invited to perform a new site-specific version of my solo at The Dragon Cafe, Mental Fight Club's latest creative project: a relaxing café and imaginative space, open to all, located in the Crypt of St George the Martyr Church.

– Liz Atkin
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All images c. Mark Wharton

Finding Sanctuary in Art was part of a series of events curated during Sept by the Museum of the Mind and the Bethlem Gallery. My solo Curdled in Colour explored sensations of anxiety and sanctuary. In this site specific piece, I performed in gardens adjacent to the church, before descending into the crypt itself. My skin was painted ghostly white and I performed a slow journey into the crypt with an unsettling, tangled mass of hair. This first stage represented the unsettling physical sensations of anxiety. It was followed by the application of vivid paint onto a large tank, illustrating and transforming it, as well as my own skin. These symbolic creative acts represented recovery and sanctuary. A lively post-show Q&A followed with an inquisitive audience!

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Physicality underpins a creative practice with my skin as a primary source for corporeal artwork and imaginative transformation. Compulsive Skin Picking dominated my life for more than 20 years, but through a background in dance and theatre, I confronted the condition to harness creative repair and recovery. I create intimate artworks, photographs and performances exploring the body-focused repetitive behaviour of skin picking. I aspire to de-stigmatise Compulsive Skin Picking, raise awareness and advocate recovery through public talks, specialist commissions, residencies and exhibitions.

Listen to Liz talking about her work and experiences on BBC Women's Hour at: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01qw9hl or visit her website to find out about forthcoming shows: www.lizatkin.com

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