Arts Arts Editor Muse

Freedom of Expression: Art in its Many Forms

Elizabeth Walsh speaks to Annie Bocock, the creator of Art for Messy Beings about the power of unedited art and the freedom provided by the lack of restrictions.

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Image Credit: Annie Bocock

Although many things in life impose strict requirements and limitations, art is not one of them. The beauty of art is that it is unrestricted. With endless possibilities, art can be anything you want and can take any form you choose. University of York Alumni Annie Bocock has harnessed this motto and put it into practise over on Instagram. Her page Art for Messy Beings was designed as a platform for people to create art, free from the judgement of anyone else all while simply enjoying the process.

Annie as an individual is living proof that art is not restricted to those studying the humanities. She was a student in the maths department before dropping out in 2019.  I asked her to tell me a bit more about herself and her time at York. She explained that despite struggling academically and mentally one thing she didn’t struggle with was “getting involved”. A member of multiple committees, she admitted,“I was someone that always did a bit too much but that’s kind of how I founded Art for Messy Beings.”

Having been intrigued by art throughout her life, we looked back at how she was first introduced to it. Annie told me that like many of us, she  initially came across the fine art of  finger painting as a child. From this, the first conscious medium of art she embraced was writing. In particular, stories based around video game characters during her time at high school. In terms of the more conventional sense, Annie noted that through GCSE Art she found the works of “strange” artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Francis Bacon fascinating. Replicating their work using ink, pastels and pencils brought particular enjoyment.

Returning to her love of words, Annie explained that when she first started writing poetry she realised that her poems weren’t “traditionally good” but that was okay. She enjoyed making art and writing poetry and that was the only thing that mattered. When the idea to start Art for Messy Beings first surfaced Annie explained that, “ I was playing with the idea that no art is bad and that you don’t always have to think outside the box.”  Interestingly, she told me that the page was originally going to be called Poems for Messy Beings. However, this changed as she wanted to encapsulate her enjoyment of art more broadly in all of its different mediums.

I was intrigued to know what sort of content followers respond best to. Annie explained that it is often the simple things: “content that is very easy to identify what it is from the outset fares very well. Colouring and very simple drawings tend to catch people’s attention.” She also told me about her use of IGTV’s on the page. One of the biggest successes was a ten-minute musical, which Annie plans to do more of in the future. Her political posts are also often well received with a recent edited picture for Earth Day getting quite a lot of attention.

An interesting mini project that formed was ‘Pride and Zines’. Annie told me that it was a concept developed alongside another art page run by her good friend. ‘Pride and Zines’ undoubtedly shows the power art can have when expressing feelings surrounding important issues. It was initially a project that ran for six weeks with both contributors creating a mini zine around a pre-selected pride issue. The topics covered included Stonewall, the Pulse nightclub tragedy, global LGBTQ+ attitudes and Section 28. Although there are currently no plans for another issue, Annie is not ruling out the idea of doing a similar project by herself in the future.

Delving deeper into Annie’s future plans for the page, she told me, “funnily enough, when I first thought of the concept, I imagined that I was in an interview reflecting on all the things I had done with this project!” She then went on to explain that she had initially imagined producing zines containing “messy” and “bad” art which would become popular. Reflecting on this initial thought she noted, “it was vain to imagine that level of success before I started. But, in the long term I can see it going in that sort of direction.”

Annie is also considering branching out with the project onto other social media platforms. The platform she is focusing on first, albeit the least likely to be thought of is Linkedin. She expanded on this telling me, “ I love Linkedin for its ability to showcase achievements and I feel it could be brilliant to post more concise updates on the project.” Also in the pipeline is a Facebook page and a website although both are still a while away from completion.

Many of us suffer with the idea that what we create and put out there must be perfect and if it doesn't meet a socially acceptable standard then it isn't good enough. However, this simply isn't true. Projects like Art for Messy Beings are a perfect example of this as they show that you don’t need a perfect or polished piece to start. Be spontaneous with art and see where it leads.

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