Behind the Mask

Bethan Briggs-Miller & Shane Wimbledon

Over the past several months we have been exploring the face we present everyday and the struggles that go on beyond what people perceive. Looking at both physical and mental health conditions, we explored the contrast of the strength portrayed on the outside and how various symptoms manifest themselves on the inside; sometimes overwhelming the image and other times contained behind a delicate façade. 

We experimented using a variety of media to create three-dimensional pieces, using natural phenomena and the landscape to portray the different symptoms and emotions.  

Each piece has its own story inviting the viewer to contemplate that we are all fighting our own battles behind the scenes. 

When we were first paired we quite quickly found ideas and themes we wanted to explore and shared goal of wanting to try something new. After some initial brainstorming we swapped materials so that we both worked with to allow the other to experiment. We then approached each piece looking at different symptoms.

Black & White Polymorph - Bethan Briggs-Miller


Black & White Polymorph – Bethan Briggs-Miller

Sometimes it is hard to describe the pain that comes with migraines. All might seem calm on the surface but a white hot heat glows behind your eyes. You are blinded and cut off from your surroundings. All you can do is wait for the storm to pass…

To portray this the polymorph was stretched as thin as possible, just before breaking, and set onto the face. A string of lights illuminates the mask from behind, highlighting any cracks and folds in the plastic.


White Polymorph & Ink – Shane Wimbledon

The crushing weight of the mind can often leave one isolated, struggling and lonely. It’s often in these moments when you’re at your most vulnerable will your inner bully decide to pose the questions as to why me? What now? Or what is the point? However it is within these solemn moments when true personal change is revealed.


Copper – Bethan Briggs-Miller

The art of mask-wearing becomes second nature. It can even be a source of support…but nothing can be strong for that long without showing some signs of fading.

This mask was made from a thin sheet of copper, manipulated onto one of the polymorph masks. It was then burnt and treated to form a green patina. It is strong but aged.


Black Polymorph & Copper Wire – Shane Wimbledon

Created in response to the different faces an individual wears in various situations especially seen in those with mental health conditions. This piece portrays the cloudy disconnection that happens between these various faces and the individual wearing them Alluding to a loss of self and depersonalization.


White Polymorph & Alcohol Ink – Bethan Briggs-Miller

Life would be easier sometimes if symptoms showed on the surface. No need to explain or make excuses.

This mask was washed with alcohol and then alcohol ink dropped from above. It moved freely, finding its way across the surface, creating contours and highlighting imperfections. 


White Polymorph & Copper Wire – Shane Wimbledon

When experiencing pain whether mental or physical, it becomes easy to not see the following impacts in various aspects of your life the invisible copper wire that connects them all in the background.


White Polymorph & Ink – Bethan Briggs-Miller

Anxiety is a major symptom in most chronic illnesses. Like most symptoms it can be hidden well if need be. The little voice can be louder some days than others but it is always there beneath the surface.

We liked the idea of a script of pure thoughts, worries and honest reflections on the inside of the masks. This was a big step for us as it was about allowing our vulnerability to be on display. We both found this liberating.


White Polymorph & Ink – Shane Wimbledon

(Polymorph, ink and small lights) often a journey to recovery feels disorientating, alien and illegible. But it’s only through this commitment, will the individual shed light onto these ailments and heal from the mind’s words.


Black Polymorph & Alcohol Ink – Bethan Briggs-Miller

Finding yourself getting lost in your own world and disconnected from daily life can be incredibly lonely but can also be beautiful. If we make time for our wellness and nurture our minds this is often where creativity can be found…a liminal space we can visit if we allow ourselves time and free ourselves of the guilt of not keeping up with everyone else.


White Polymorph & Ink – Shane

A physical removal of a negative stream of consciousness, through a weak and vulnerable. Only once the mask/thought pattern has been removed from the individual can a resurgence in strength be found.


Bethan Briggs-Miller & Shane Wimbledon

We walked through the woods in Wivenhoe and found a spot we both were drawn to. It was a clearing that had both shade and dappled light and looked as though no one had walked there or had been disturbed.

We both liked the idea that when someone was in this sanctuary they could be themselves and take off their mask. 

We experimented placing the masks in various layouts and heights. It was a small space but every inch had a uniqueness that gave us more ideas.

We started by partly burying the masks in the carpet of ivy that was on the floor. We wanted it to look like they had been there for a while, perhaps abandoned by someone a long time ago.

As we worked the light changed constantly and we wanted to experiment catching the light coming through the masks.

This audio is intended to be played alongside viewing the images bellow, for an immersive experience please wear headphones.

Hung on branches, the masks were left as offerings to this sacred space.