Krissie Marie Heliodore takes us on a journey through her artistic evolution, from incorporating silicone into her garments to crafting intricate sculptures that breathe life into her visions. Her debut at An Anticlone Takeover II marked a pivotal moment in her post-graduate career, and she reflects on the whirlwind transition from CSM to showcasing new works for Frieze, Takeover III. As an emerging artist, Krissie Marie shares her thoughts on the future of independent and self-taught artists in the art world, highlighting the need for more opportunities and subsidised spaces.
Your heritage is clearly a subject matter which you explore throughout your works and practice. You studied Fashion Design Knitwear at Central Saint Martin’s (CSM), however in your debut during An Anticlone Takeover II in Newington, you have since created sculptures. What made you explore this medium?
During my making process I always used a range of mixed media to explore my ideas, having a background in makeup and SFX I decided to incorporate silicone into the garments. I gravitate towards an initial emotive response to my research. Through character building, I wanted my bodysuits to have a skin-like appearance, to achieve this I created 3D sculptures, speculative organisms that emulated my ideas of second skin. These were later utilised to create silicone imprints on the garments. I showed Sade these sculptures and we shared the realisation that the pieces could stand alone by themselves.
Shortly after graduating from CSM, you were featured by Anticlone Gallery with support from the Founder. In comparison to your CSM experience, how does it feel debuting as a post-graduate and showcasing new works for Frieze, Takeover III?
Despite being 4 years in the making, my final collection felt as if you blinked you would miss it; the end process was so fast. As a student I had high expectations and I felt would be just as appreciated as the final outcome. By being given this opportunity to exhibit at Anticlone, I feel my work can be seen and appreciated from another perspective in more detail. I have always had a very clear vision of how I wanted my work to be viewed, especially within an exhibition space. Being given this opportunity to exhibit at Takover III is perfect during this transition.
What do you feel your work represents, and what is the process behind your creations?
My work is an autoethnographic exploration of mental health and generational trauma within my family. Looking at personal stories within my family and collecting documentation, I have had open conversation surrounding their struggles which I felt they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Through black utopian studies and ideas of matrilineage, I have collected parts of my history that I identify with closely. I initially start with writing and research, this has been integral to laying the foundations of every project I approach. Through my art, I am actively placing myself within history. I aim to use these experiences as a tool for healing and create new avenues for exploration of black study.
You have been involved in the avant garde and underground scene of London, how has this influenced your works?
The underground avante garde scene in London has allowed me to express my interest in the dark and macabre. I move around these spaces under the alias ‘AKASHA’. It has been a great tool to bring out my confidence and meet other creative minds. In regards to my personal work, it hasn’t influenced it as I prefer to keep these worlds separate. My work is me when I am most vulnerable and naked therefore I use my birth name ‘Krissie Marie Heliodore’. I handle it with care. My underground persona is a character for that scene and a world apart; it makes more sense to keep them separate.
Telling stories through your art is apparent, identity is a common theme,what is the message you are trying to communicate through your practice?
My approach for each project always starts from a personal place. As a black artist, I feel the importance of shedding light on black history and the struggles of my ancestors. I personally feel it’s disingenuous for me to create art based on historical tragedies I was not physically present for. However, I do feel the effects of these tragedies as they have manifested in other ways through generations, this I can definitely attest to. Mental Health and its taboos have always been a struggle for me and I use art as my therapy, so there is definitely a yearning to find myself by creating work surrounding my family. Therefore I create art that speaks to my experience in hopes that it opens up conversations that I feel are quite difficult for the majority of black families.
What can we expect with your upcoming works for Takeover III for Mandrake & Frieze?
My upcoming work is about my auntie, an ongoing project that I have worked on for the past 7 years. It documents my close relationship with her as well as herself. Diagnosed as a bariatric patient suffering from chronic pain, I draw on all the facets of her mental and physical state through her life. We have engaged in open and fluid conversations about her struggles, she’s very involved in the process, it’s more than just observational. Her eating disorder, generational trauma and the taboos within mental health all inform her physicality. I juxtapose these with themes of colonial ideologies, stigma and disability. Drawing parallels between the invisible and visible realms, extending her body out of its confines and beyond. Extensive personal research and autoethnographic methodology inform this installation called: ‘Her Body Without Bounds.’ Stretched and pulled fabric represent her body’s journey. The biological aspects resemble the coral Alcyonium Digitatum echoing distant realms.I intend to open doors of healing through her vulnerability as she has done for me. This is the largest piece I have created, I intend the viewer to feel overwhelmed and contorted as they navigate her life. Her story is important.
Anticlone’s ethos as an independent gallery is to blur the lines between established & emerging artists. How do you see the future of independent and self taught artists within the art world (including yourself)?
Given the current economic crisis, I would say it’s very hard for artists during this time to create art due to a lack of funding. I would hope that more subsidised spaces and more opportunities would open up for artists who are struggling. There are a lot of pressures and conflict with social media and to generate constant content and stay current which I personally struggle with. In terms of the future, I feel spaces such as Anticlone are one of few who platform artists despite their background or financial status, which I believe the arts industry is lacking. I am grateful to be given this opportunity to be able to work alongside other artists in a similar position. It feels powerful to be a part of this community.
Being one of the newest Artists in Anticlone, how would you compare your support to other experiences?
As a student I had very short and stressful deadlines which was challenging however it did teach me to adapt and create a large amount of work. I developed unhealthy coping mechanisms to get through the work which made me neglect my physical well being. This I feel works against the creative process as inspiration and motivation cannot be forced, I always came up with ideas very fluidly and naturally. Since being supported by Anticlone, there are soft deadlines but I have had to trust the process and allow myself to create when I know the time is right. This has been a challenge but I am moulding a new relationship with my creative process and it’s ongoing and organic.
This is not your first performance for Anticlone, your most recent, Takeover II at Newington Green Meeting House. What do we expect to see for this performance at Mandrake x Frieze Takeover III?
With each piece I created my concepts, having improved my confidence and grown. I hope others can see that also. It will be my first live performance which is a very exciting opportunity.
Where do you see your future, as a growing artist? What future goals or projects can you share?
I am going in a new direction with my work and I have more of a need to be active within the community. Being a Teaching Assistant for the short courses at CSM, I have discovered that I enjoy teaching and helping others. I’m looking at art therapy as a new venture to not only progress my practice but also help the community as well. I will also be exhibiting at CSM for Black History Month which will showcase a piece from my final collection from 29th – 1st November.