‘Body Room’ brings together the work of Glasgow-based Canadian painter Ally Zlatar and Cork-based painter James Hallinan. Both artists deal with experiences of the body as a site of mental illness / alienation and anxiety through modernist painting processes. Zlatar’s post-card size expressionist paintings focus on her own lived experience of eating disorders. Hallinan’s larger Baconesque paintings deal with “the tendency to isolate during times of heightened social anxiety.”

Of her work Zlatar writes: “Those inflicted by eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia and orthorexia experience a profoundly deep experience with mental illness (Bordo, 2001). Working within the Visual Art discipline as an artist and curator, my research project explores the ways in which Contemporary Art concerning eating disorders can give us insight into the lived experience of it. In turn, my project’s central research question seeks to address: To what extent can contemporary art concerning eating disorders and distorted body image enlighten us about perceptions of female self-identity within a broader context of mental health and well-being?”

Hallinan writes of his ‘Rooms’ series: “The concept behind “Rooms” was to visually express the tendency to isolate yourself during times of heightened social anxiety while showing the emotional and physical experience it has on the mind and body. Experiences of this nature can be paralysing and the reaction to isolate can seem positive, even comforting in many ways. This lead to the idea of placing the figures in a room as it is a perceived safe place, especially one in a home, but the reality depends completely on context. Other everyday items from the home are repurposed in the works to symbolise both reflection on and understanding of the cause and effects of social anxiety and its importance on dealing with it.”

Born in Mississauga, Canada, Zlatar holds a BFA in Visual Art & Art History from Queen’s University & an MLitt Curatorial Practice and Contemporary Art from the Glasgow School of Art. Currently, she is a Lecturer at the University of Glasgow (GIC). James holds a BA in Visual Communication and is currently undertaking an MA in Fine Art with the University for the Creative Arts London.