Portalis Collaborator Interview – Mahta Hedayat

What influences did you draw on for this project?

When I visited Nottingham City of Caves, I realized there were a lot of memories and stories there. At different historical periods, people used to go there for varied purposes. My idea to create a cave full of memories was sparked by that visit. Howl's Moving Castle, an anime by Hayao Myazaki, has also influenced me. In a scene from the anime, Howl is depressed and Sophie tries to find him in his cave of memory. She enters Howl's room, which has turned into a dark cave, filled with toys from Howl's childhood.

What processes did you use in your work?

To begin, I drew various compositions and perspectives of my idea on paper. This helped me to decide if I wanted to depict the mental cave from the inside or the outside. After finalising my sketch, I transferred it into Procreate and began working on it digitally.

Mehta working on an iPad drawing

Did you try new approaches for this exhibition that led to new discoveries?

To concentrate on the details of the cave, I decided to work in a larger scale than I typically do. I had to work in actual-size in order to have a high-quality printout. The large-scale in Procreate allowed me to me to create only four layers, which was a challenge to include the amount of detail I wanted.

What feelings or meanings do you imagine your work conveys?

People viewing my work might feel the contrast between the cuteness of the image and a sense of unease in the subject matter. My work can evoke memories of gory cartoons watched illicitly during childhood. Viewers might question if the characters in the images are one person and what these cave paintings represent.

Mahta drawing on an iPad

What are you hoping to convey in the title of your work?

The title of my work The Cave of Mind accurately describes what I tried to portray: the psychological cave inside the skull, which houses all of our dreams, memories and thoughts.

How does your work for Portalis relate to your past work?

I continuously draw inspiration my dreams, recollections, and experiences. In this case, my new work followed this methodology. However, the girl's outfit, the eyeball, the reflections and lights from the torch, in particular, are more realistically portrayed in this new work than in my earlier works. Despite the surreal atmosphere in my images, I attempted to make the components realistic. Maybe Magic Realism is a new direction for my work.

Will this project influence some aspect of your future practice? If so, what and how?

Working on this project inspired me to create animation in the future. To express myself, I believe I need more frames, and animation is a great option.

a digital drawing of a face with a branch like structure over it

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