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About Rebecca Culverhouse

I’m a self taught artist from Burnley, now based in London. I primarily work with moving image to explore themes of perception, memory and normality. My last moving image project #eatpretty was an experimental horror film made of cinemagraphs about social media and consumerism.

It was commissioned by Channel 4’s Random Acts, and screened at numerous film festivals and exhibitions. I also paint with oils, which is one of the most satisfying mediums for me to create with.

You can view my work here.

“I’m hoping that my work can improve understanding and compassion for synaesthetes, and also for neurodiversity in general.”

Artist Rebecca Culverhouse painting.

What is Synaesthesia and how does this influence your daily experiences?

Synaesthesia is a medical condition that causes overlapping sensations, meaning that I always experience colourful numbers, words, scents and sounds. While the condition can make simple things difficult (for example, when counting I’m more drawn to the brightly coloured number combinations, so I unconsciously tend to skip the muted colours) I would never want to lose my naturally augmented view of reality.

For me it is a constant reminder that our perception of the world is completely subjective, and society is essentially made up of an ever changing collective dream, which can be very freeing. It also heightens the feeling of dancing to music, as every instrument, note and sound has a colour, shape and texture, creating a living pattern that swirls around you. For example Donna Summer’s I Feel Love has a travelator made up of blue rectangles speeding towards me, or Vivaldi’s Winter has silver and green fireworks.

For me it is a constant reminder that our perception of the world is completely subjective”

Rebecca Culverhouse Hart Club

Your Synaesthesia inspired projects sound really interesting, what are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on a series of Futurism inspired synaesthesia oil paintings. Each painting focuses on a memory of dancing to a particular song in a location that complements its synaesthesia pattern – whether dancing to black and green techno in Berghain or a purple rock music at a festival. The memories of these beautiful combinations of colours and shapes last with me all my life, for example my next painting will be based on hearing nineties dance music playing in my childhood swimming lessons.

Impasto layers and blurred figures reflect the explosive power of music, and the near religious ecstasy of dancers losing themselves in music. It feels incredibly rewarding to give my subjective experiences a concrete real world form, and be able to see the different ways people respond to the trippy visuals. I’m looking forward to holding an exhibition displaying all of the songs together, which would also feature moving image work bringing some of the synaesthesia patterns to life in an even more dynamic way.

I am also developing a short moving image film about synaesthesia. Unlike educational documentaries that tell us about the condition in a scientific way, this will be the first film that accurately shows what life with synaesthesia is like. It will fuse live action footage with CGI synaesthesia effects in a naturalistic way. It will recreate real conversations and real experiences shared by myself and other synaesthete friends, subjectively showing what we see when we read words or listen to music. I’m currently pitching the film to commissioners, and am looking for a talented CGI artist to help me bring my synaesthesia to life.

In the meantime I’ve been making some short test videos to figure out how to combine live action footage with synaesthesia effects, for example this dance film with multidisciplinary artist (and fellow synaesthete). Many Things wrote a heavy ambient soundtrack for the film, which I shot against a dark wilderness. During the edit I created simple motion graphics that recreate the colours and shapes of the music as accurately as possible, and too late I realised that dark coloured songs need a light coloured backdrop so that the pattern of the music can really stand out. So each synaesthesia test video is a great learning experience!

What are your future plans?

I’m aiming to hold my synaesthesia exhibition later this year, ideally consisting of paintings, moving image work and possibly a live art performance. I’m hoping that my work can improve understanding and compassion for synaesthetes, and also for neurodiversity in general. Further down the line I’m aiming to create interactive installation projects, comprising both physical spaces as well as installations that make use of new technology like VR and augmented reality.

I think having inattentive ADHD means that I always have a huge number of ideas that I want to try out, but finding ways to actualise them and bring them to life is very slow and painstaking. But the really great ideas tend to stick around and keep pestering me until I manage to complete them.

Where can we see more of your work?

Instagram: @rebel_cub

What do we do?

Hart Club’s mission is to champion neurodiversity within the Arts.