Celebrating Autism Awareness Week with a display of works by Ashleigh Spice and Gullu Kandrou. Two Hampshire artists who are on the autism spectrum.
I graduated from university in 2013 with a BA (Hons) in Photography. I have a rare condition affecting the central nervous system called Neurocardiogenic Presyncope, along with Autism, Epilepsy and other comorbidities. I was bed-bound and couldn’t move or speak for a while when I was around 18. I take a tablet that literally pushes the blood round my body because I can’t do it myself. It keeps me alive. It’s only recently been licensed in the UK!
I used to own my own photography studio and was excelling in my career. But when I got too sick to work my lifestyle dramatically changed and I have had to adapt to a slower pace of life. I now use the energy I have to volunteer at a local organisation to help reduce waste, continue developing my on-going project and rest. I frequently use a wheelchair and cannot stand for long periods of time, but I’ve learnt my limits (mostly, I am extremely unpredictable!)
These ‘interruptions’ I have had to deal with in life have been the soul context around my art. I have had a constant desire to find how the ‘self’ truly functions and how our environment affects our behaviour within space and time.
My practice is a way for me to breathe; to be able to step back from my life which can get very hectic in my brain, and help me look at it from a spectator’s view and process it easier. I like that it gives others a chance to see how I see. It’s mindful and therapeutic – I get lost in it. I think it helps me understand myself and how I am feeling. I started the same line of work when I was just 13 (self-portraits, eyes) and only when I was around 23 did I start to realise why I am so intruiged by that – my health! And, after being diagnosed in 2019, my autism!
Gullu plays with the notions of memory, relationships, trauma, sexuality and emotion, in her experimental, mixed media, found-photography pieces.
She manipulates these pieces – some from her childhood, some from idyllic women’s magazines – to unnerve the audience, who can never quite understand where the next peculiar, detached sentence will come from. Like a puzzle, you can’t quite solve, the pictures are one half of the enigma, whilst the text makes up the other half of the mystery; keeping the audience at a distance as the truth is too painful for the artist to state obviously.
She works autobiographically, confessing materially her past, present and future; looking for catharsis as she finds freedom from the trauma inflicted upon her, taking back her agency.
Graduating from Solent with a First-Class Honours in Fine Art, despite being in a coma during her studies in 2018, she flies in the face of adversity every day. Gullu is an ethnically diverse, disabled and neurodivergent, working class, second-generation immigrant, who is non-binary and queer.