Mimi x Emma
Sometimes the only way is through, and on the other side is greater freedom
For mental health advocate Mimi, confronting the painful stand-off between her mind and body started her on a journey of learning to choose kindness over criticism. Mimi began embracing all the parts of herself on the good days, the bad days and all the days in between. Together with ceramicist, Emma, ‘Moving Through’ reminds us that growth is possible when room is made for the struggle and the perfect imperfections; seeing them as part of our journey rather than something that must define us.
Mimi Kilbey (she/her)
After struggling to fit in at school, I wrestled with low self-esteem, self-worth, and became a bully to myself. I experienced an eating disorder (Anorexia Nervosa) along with anxiety and depression. For a while I lost the bubbly, fun, creative parts of myself whilst my body and mind battled.
I eventually reached out for help and I went on a journey to learn about my health and ways to overcome my struggles. During this time, I learnt a lot about myself, my body, my mind, and how looking after myself both mentally and physically was something that, whilst difficult at times, would ultimately benefit me and lead to a happier and healthier life.
I hope that anyone who sees the stunning piece Emma has created will note its curves, bumps and perfect imperfections, and see this as the mind adapting to the journey that is life. Life is not just a straight line or a mapped-out path. It is a rollercoaster of waves and emotions.
‘Moving Through’ represents mental health as an ongoing journey; as an experience someone doesn’t move on from, but continues to grow and change with.
As Mimi recounted her past experiences with an eating disorder, we realised this artwork needed to reflect where she is now – in the present, the challenges she has overcome, and most importantly, convey a message of hope and positivity to others. This piece depicts a body that has changed and adapted its form whilst continuing to grow.
MY VISIBLE MESSAGE
Just like the weather, life has many seasons. Sometimes the rain may stay for a bit longer than you would like but that doesn’t mean you should give up hope. The sunshine will appear again.
Mental Health is something that should be nurtured both when you are struggling and when you are feeling fine and dandy. I think it is so very important to remember to continue to build on your mental health even on the good days, practise self-care, and reach out to your community when you need.
Whilst life’s ups and downs can be challenging and exciting, you can also learn from life and constantly grow and adapt. Whilst living with mental health, you can learn to work with these feelings, and whilst some may never go away entirely, they become a part of you, a part of your story and ultimately make you the person you are today.
Immediately after our workshop, I could visualise the type of sculpture I wanted to create in response to Mimi’s experience. After a few sketches, I began hand-building the form with Australian porcelain clay, a temperamental material that likes to build slowly without being overworked. I chose Mimi’s favourite colours (mine too) to create a contrast between the two elements in the sculpture using ceramic paint and glaze.
Responding to Mimi’s experience required a lot of thought to make sure I wasn’t leading or simply repeating but trying to project a message from Mimi As we worked together, the message and overall tone we wanted the piece to convey really made sense to me as something I could contribute to without directing the narrative of her experience.
I have shared my mental health journey, advocating for mental health at conferences, fundraising events and in the media, as well as being quite open with my mental health in my personal life. However, sharing my story with someone who was going to take a part of what I had shared and bring it to life by turning it into an artwork was quite incredible. Seeing Emma take parts of my story and turn them into a piece about growth and movement, capturing pieces of my journey and representing both physical and mental aspects of this was truly moving.
Mimi Kilbey (she/her)
Mimi is a Youth Advocate with ReachOut.com. She is passionate about helping people and shares her story with the hope that it inspires others, encourages help-seeking, and reminds people they are not alone. Mimi is passionate about creating art, dance, food, travel, the ocean, friends and family.
Emma Bartik is a Sydney artist working with clay, colour and physical bodies to explore themes of fragility, tension and femininity. A 2016 UNSW Art and Design graduate, Emma’s playful yet sophisticated pieces are regularly exhibited across Sydney and have featured in Australian publications including The Design Files and Frankie Magazine.
Emma works from her Botany studio under the name Voluptuary Ceramics.