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February 23, 2022 | Ivilina Kouneva

The power of art

Ivilina Kouneva is a visual artist with a studio practice in Bexhill-on-sea, East Sussex. In this article she explores how the creative arts has connected her with her community and the vital lessons for us all. Her current project is Dear Darling by the Sea.

I am a painter, a teacher, a mother of a three grown up children. I would like to be part of something that really matters, and to contribute through my creations. Art and the process of art-making are vital for communities. They have become proven way to help people get over their worries and build resilience. They unite. They inspire. And as we reflect on women’s progress traditionally through February and March we inevitably would ask how art helps us manage the difficulties in our relationships. What can further be done for women to flourish?

DearDarling comes from a conversation with a friend on how to express your affection to your partner without going into the “taken for granted” “Yes dear”, and then too popular and exploited “darling” -while Dear and Darling together cover nuances of real affection as well as being playfully amusing.  I would like to share this with WayfinderWoman Trust as each artwork resonates with women’s experiences. Like other creatives who support this charity I would like to contribute with part of my sales to their future projects.

Why art?  For me, art has always been the obvious way, which allows me to explore and reveal different human conditions in an ever changing and troubled world.  It allows me to make sense of what is happening around me and I believe by embracing art, even if we don’t think of ourselves as artists, we can manage our own mental health.

Drawing is an important part of my practice and I use it in its spontaneity, playfulness and expressiveness. I believe that my hundred drawings will inspire you to undertake a step towards creativity and thus help your well-being and your community. My approach varies depending on the theme. I like recycling and upcycling images from my discarded work. With every drawing I throw myself in an adventure. My stories are lived through with shift and unexpected turns. I do lots of cut-outs: continuous folding and unfolding of stories, putting the abandoned into use, giving it new life. I use paper cuts from a pool of discarded drawings and paintings. I view things afresh every time, from scratch and with no high expectations.    We don’t like everything we do but each piece is an expression of us and is a learning point as to what skills we have, or need, and how it affects us emotionally.

Through my decades of experience in arts I’ve taken part in various arts projects. In 2021 I contributed to a zine which first issue was entirely dedicated to climate change and the environmental crisis. There I shared my belief that, “creatives of all fields help enormously in provoking public views over saving our environment locally and globally. Being sensitive and progressive they may bring awareness and a new mindful approach.”

My biggest inspiration comes from the younger members of my family who in different ways actively promote sustainability for communities in the new realities of climate change.  What inspires you?

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