‘Life in Parts’ by Santina Ingui.

Following the ‘S.E.A.T Project‘, and ‘Protect the Child‘, ‘Life in Parts‘ by Santina Ingui is the third mentorship offered by Hands That Shape Humanity in partnership with the College of Fine Arts in Sydney.

Hands That Shape Humanity is a social enterprise which forms a part of the R.E.A.L Group, a collective of businesses ranging across retail (the R.E.A.L Store), social enterprise (Hands That Shape Humanity) and brand consultancy.

Virginia Bruce, CEO of the R.E.A.L Group, describes why Santina’s project resonates with the group’s conscious approach to design:

“In principle, the Hand Up mentoring program is about having the design graduates create ‘an ordinary product with an extraordinary message’ and in the process create social positive impact and/or change. They are also asked to include themselves in the process. With ‘Life in Parts’ Santina ticked all the boxes, immersing her personal journey and cultural history into the execution of her idea. There is something about what Santina has produced that touches the essence of spirit that we are looking to find.”

Following is an in-depth interview with the artist on her project, ‘Life in Parts‘.

+ Hi Santina, could you start by introducing your project, “Life in Parts’?

‘Life in Parts’ explores the way people are affected by overpowering and overwhelming emotions with the aim of creating a sensibility towards mental health issues in the wider community. The project explores the impact of stress related mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety and my own desire to find an appropriate outlet for sharing that experience with other people in a narrative way.

+ What inspired you to focus on these issues? 

The catalyst for doing this was witnessing a family member suffering from a mental illness and my own inability to comprehend what was happening. I attribute my failure to understand to the cultural structure in which I was brought up which has a prevalent ingrained stigma associated with issues of mental health. I am hoping this project will encourage a more sympathetic sensibility towards those who are suffering.

+ Could you explain why you named your project, “Life in Parts”? 

People are made up of lots of different parts: some parts are happily shared, while others are hidden. The parts we share openly and freely with others define how we are seen by others. It is an open liberal expression of ourself. Then, there are hidden parts which we are more reluctant to reveal. We might feel embarrassed or something that is too complicated or hard to talk about. These can build up and in sometimes, become mental issues because we are not communicating and letting go of a particular problem. This is an unhealthy was to process emotions. Finally, in cases of extreme anger or sadness, depression, anxiety or nervous breakdowns, some parts simply overflow. Most people experience these emotions but to a lesser degree. The overflow is when there is too much hidden inside. It is ugly and unpleasant, unpredictable or constant. It interrupts all the other parts and may even put them on hold.

+ How did you choose to represent these concepts?

I chose to create a series of vessels as a symbol of the way we, as people, a little bit like bottles, can hold things in and let things out. Sometimes we choose to do so and other times, we can’t help it, it just overflows. I also wanted to stitch different elements together to form these vessels. I wanted to demonstrate that people are fragile, that the mind is fragile and that we are all different.

+ How did you make these vessels? 

I used porcelain which is a very white ceramic. I created a pattern from felt which I then soaked into the ceramic slip. I then reshaped the pieces to form bottles and let them dry for a couple of days. Finally, I fired them to a very high temperature (1280 degrees). They often move around in the kiln because they are so fine. I sort of like that because there is an element of surprise. I then fire them again and apply a clear glaze so they can withstand water.

+ Is the finished product a piece of art or an object?

The vessels are translucent because porcelain is very thin. You can put light underneath to make it glow and it can become a light. It can also be a vessel because it can hold water as it is sealed on the inside. Or it can just be an object which reminds you of the story behind it.

+ Santina, if you could leave one message for humanity, what would it be? 

Value people, not things. Value people and treat them right, relationships are the most important thing in the world.

‘Life in Parts’ by artist Santina Ingui is an exhibition made up of 25 limited edition vessels for sale. The exhibition aims to provoke thought, compassion and understanding of mental health issues. 

In 2012, Santina was introduced to her mentor, ceramicist Katherine Mahoney. Santina spent her professional experience collaboration working with Katherine to develop and refine the process of crafting these vessels. 

You can purchase a vessel through the REAL Store 10% of proceeds of sale will go to  Hands That Shape Humanity to help fund future initiatives.