Featured Artist – Dominic Hemphill-Whyte
We start off this chilly February Monday, the first of 2021, with a feature on one artist from our current show, ‘As Time Stood Still, Part Two’.
Dominic Hemphill-Whyte is the only artist in our most recent exhibition who has created their artwork on an iPad, to be viewed online as a digital image. Dominic Hemphill-Whyte hasn’t always created his art this way. In the Project Ability studios, where he has been working for the last 6 years, you’ll usually find Dominic with a paint brush in hand, and a canvas or piece of paper on the easel. However different this change in the way of working, his style has remained refreshingly similar! His colours are bright and his compositions, whether abstract or not, are always cheerful.
His new way of creating art is just one of many things that has changed in the last year for Dominic. He has been lucky in that he has a really supportive family, but that hasn’t meant lockdown life has been without its difficulties. As a young person with autism, the virus has been an invisible volcano, disrupting almost every aspect of life. When you have a routine that you don’t like to stray from, this can be a serious challenge.
We got in touch with Dominic’s mum Clare, to ask her how Dominic has been getting on, now that the pandemic has been around for almost a year. We are pleased to be able to share with our audience her thoughtful insights and experiences; both her and Dominic’s.
It is hard for any of us to understand a virus that is invisible but even harder for Dominic to comprehend what a virus is. So when life as he knew it stopped, he didn’t have the comprehension of knowing the reasons why.
All activities stopped. No more college classes, computer, gardening, dance, no more drama or music class, no more gym or trampolining or climbing, no more bus or train rides, and most importantly no more art studio at Project Ability. However an IPad arrived in the post and he started to learn how to draw on it and then he started to enjoy it! Once the pic is finished, he doesn’t claim it any more or ever look at it again – he is happy to give it away. He has no ego – he has never developed one.
As the new mornings were long I decided to show him the workings of the kitchen and for him to get more involved. We put the radio on for some music to work to.He makes his own toast and we sit down together and have breakfast watching the little birds have their breakfast at the bird feeder. Dominic doesn’t like to talk or listen when he eats. It’s a meditation for him, he is present like a monk– so you become very relaxed too. After that it’s time to tidy up, empty the bin outside and perhaps give the stairs a quick hoover with the hand held Dyson. Every speck is removed in record time like it was art. He then likes to sit with his camomile tea and relax.
He likes to walk outside in nature and prefers to walk alongside whoever is with him without talking or listening to a human voice – he likes the voice of nature and the gentle breeze and whatever weather is thrown from the heavens is fine with him. When it snows he sledges and loves it. When its sunny he wears his sunglasses and licks an ice-cream. When it rains he puts his hood up and carries on.
He loves a packed lunch especially when it includes a bar of chocolate.
– Clare Hemphill
We are really grateful to Clare for her generosity in sharing that thoughtful text with us. Everyone has had to adapt to some new way of life during this pandemic, and it is a lovely reminder that there are some beautiful moments that arise out of unfortunate circumstances.
As for the work Dominic has been creating on the iPad, we can link up some of the pictures to Clare’s words. Activities that are missed, and new ones being enjoyed. We are so pleased to have been able to send Dominic a Project Ability iPad, and we are over the moon with the results of his labour with it.
We love Dominic’s work and we are really excited about his artistic future. Art may not be his only love, but we hope it is his first! Be sure to check out the exhibition, ‘As Time Stood Still, Part Two’ if you haven’t had a look yet.
Dominic’s new instagram page! https://www.instagram.com/dominichemphillwhyte/