Gabriela Adach, Drawing Year Alumni: Drawing as an embodied experience

Dec. 8, 2021

Gabriela Adach's work is often of a personal nature and she tries to capture feelings as they evolve during the process of artmaking. She completed the Drawing Year in 2018 and has just undertaken an MA in Art Psychotherapy. Here she tells us about her work...

Gabriela Adach

Could you describe your current drawing practice? 

My drawings are often of a personal nature and made in response to lived experiences. I work intuitively and follow my thoughts as they shift and try to capture my feelings as they evolve during the process of artmaking. Pattern, detail, and repeated marks frequently feature in my artwork. 

How has the last 18 months influenced your art practice? 

The pandemic affected the scale of my artwork. Over the last 18 months I have been making work at home where space is limited. My drawings became very small and very detailed. 

Whilst I continued to make artwork during the pandemic, I questioned the purpose of it. 

How does drawing impact your own mental health and do you have any advice for others managing their own? 

For me drawing is an embodied experience which offers the potential to directly express my emotional state and present it in a tangible form. I use drawing as a form of self-supervision. It offers the opportunity for reflection and is a way for me to make sense of my own feelings. I particularly find the activity of drawing from observation very grounding. It firmly anchors me in the present moment and re-centres me.  

Mental health is often misunderstood. Everyone feels anxious, sad, angry and frustrated at times, often to extremes. These feelings are completely natural and may be brought about by all sorts of different reasons. In these kinds of situations, I would encourage people to share their feelings with others, preferably face to face, which often puts things in perspective. 

What led you to study Art Psychotherapy? 

My decision to study art psychotherapy was influenced by my personal experience of growing up with a family member who had schizophrenia and witnessing the impact that severe mental health problems can have for both the person experiencing them and those around them. I observed the positive impact that engaging in creative activities had which contributed to managing the symptoms of their diagnosis. Studying art psychotherapy combined my interest in art and my belief that creative activities have the potential to be therapeutic.   

I finished my MA this past summer, and since then I have started a job working as an art psychotherapist in a hospital setting. 

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How did you find the Drawing Year? 

For me, the Drawing Year was an immensely valuable experience because it offered a unique opportunity to learn and develop my art practice through a high level of contact time with a dedicated team of tutors and practicing artists. I felt part of a community of like-minded creative individuals whom I found supportive and inspiring.  

The practice of drawing from observation each day also deeply affected the way I experienced the world around me. Slowing down to find focus helped me to identify and appreciate small details which enabled me to become more present in my own life.  

El Duende - Adach's winning animation at the TBW Drawing Prize 2021

How did it feel to be awarded the Trinity Buoy Wharf Student Award 2021? 

I have submitted an entry to the TBW Drawing Prize every year for the last eight years! Until this year my artwork had never been shortlisted for the final exhibition. So, when I found out that my artwork (El Duende, an animation in response to the pandemic) was going to be included, I was absolutely delighted. I am grateful for the opportunity to be included in an exhibition with so many talented people and share my artwork with a wider audience. Winning the Student Prize was completely unexpected and overwhelming - a tremendous achievement. 

Well done Gabriela! 

Are you interested in applying for The Drawing Year? Find out more here.