A possum hisses, alarmed, at a hand mirror proclaiming a ‘New Dawn’. This possum is all of us. Staring at our lethargic reflections, with a brewing sense of unease, wondering what the shifting sands of 2020 will throw our way next. “I just very much identified with the same feeling” says Chrissie Abbott of the work. Yup, it’s been a long year, and Chrissie’s experience has been no different. Her latest exhibition ‘Gamma – A Magical Frequency’, allows us to make our escape through hypnotic colorscapes and campish copy-lines. Opening this week at 101 Gallery in Nuremberg, the works explore theories of invisible energy fields and alternative realms. Ahead of the opening, I relish the opportunity to chat with my friend about these enticing notions. If we can’t meet on the astral plane, this will have to be the next best thing.
So, the title of your new show is ‘Gamma’. Can you tell me a little bit about how you landed on that as a theme?
So, I was reading into different forms of meditation and how it affects brainwaves and mental-states, and how our mental state can affect our physical well-being and physicality in general. Then I found out more about these different kinds of brainwaves that are activated through meditation – Gamma being the best one was interesting to me. It makes you feel super alert, and really sharp, you’re loving and empathetic. It’s basically the optimal state that everyone would really want to be in – super-human in a way. So that I found quite inspiring, because it almost feels like a world away from where I am now. I’m like the opposite of that right now (laughs).
I know what you mean.
It felt almost like a parallel universe, somewhere I would want to get to.
I think it’s interesting that Gamma is described as the optimal human state, and that kindness is wrapped into that. That is something new to me because often when you hear about meditation it’s in the context of entrepreneurs and start-up bros – people optimizing their performance. You rarely hear about empathy or kindness being a part of that.
Yeah, that’s what really struck me as well because I think there’s also something about meditation that makes you think it’s a self-serving act, that it’s all about you delving deeper into your own presence. But just reading that stuff made me think that if you optimize yourself then you are capable of being better and nicer to other people and seeing things from other people’s points of view – Being better outside of yourself as a result of being better inside of yourself. It was a nice angle. With the way the world is now, everyone is needing a bit of empathy. Or maybe we are beginning to realize how important empathy is.
Do you think the work for this show is a direct result of where we are currently at? The last six months?
Yeah, I think so. I think it’s on everyone’s minds isn’t it? Maybe it’s come out in a different way without me realizing it. Going back to what you said, I think it’s interesting that kindness is often looked at as a weakness, like you will never be a high achiever if you can’t take everyone’s shit and not be sensitive and now I feel the whole world is changing, being quite broken down and damaged. Now kindness is quite empowering in a way.
I listened to the interview you did recently on The Friendly Unknown podcast, it seems like this idea of thinking there is more to the human experience than what you can see in the day-to-day is something that you’ve always been interested in, right?
Yeah, definitely. I think in a kinda spiritual way but also…. this is embarrassing to admit, but I remember watching this episode of Ally McBeal and there was this character in it who was fighting to be put in a medically-induced coma because her husband or boyfriend had died and they only existed in her dreams. So, she was desperate to fall asleep every night and experience this other world and there was something in the argument that was like “Who is to say we’re not dreaming right now, maybe the coma is real life, why not just let her be happy”. I think I watched that when I was like 13 or 14, and I was like “Woaaahhh”.
I love that that was your takeaway from Ally McBeal.
It really stuck with me (laughs).
I just remember the unisex bathroom. But back to meditation, do you practice it yourself?
Yeah. I try to meditate. I don’t know if I am necessarily good at it but I give it a go and try to do it at least once a day.
Youtube videos. Especially at night. Whilst I was working from home it was obviously easier to stick it into my schedule.
What do you think the benefits are to your life, but also your creativity?
I think it’s just a good way of pressing pause and not being on this constant revolving door and just reacting to stuff. I think it’s really important for me to find a quiet space and it lets different ideas come to me a bit easier. Hopefully that doesn’t sound wanky.
Not at all! You have a work in the show with an image of a waterfall that says “It was all a dream”. Is that related to that Ally McBeal idea – there being a different dimension you can visit? Do you have any recurring dreams that feel like you are experiencing a heightened state, or visiting a place like that?
I definitely have recurring stress dreams. I get caught on the toilet by a work colleague… But I often just dream about my old house and my old road, weirdly. That tends to be the place I always end up.
Like when you were a kid or a student?
When I was a kid.
I started doing this thing, I guess it’s kinda like meditation, that when I’m trying to fall asleep I try to revisit my family home from when I was like 8. I enter the door and try to remember the flow of walking through the house and it’s really weird because when you do it you remember details, like there was step there going out of dad’s study, and a ledge going to this bit, stuff you wouldn’t normally ever remember. But when you actually put yourself in the physical realm of it, you remember all these details.
I think when you’re a kid you experience so much in such a short space of time. You’re experiencing everything for the first time, so you remember it all. I kinda wish that I dreamt about more beautiful places and inspiring landscapes but I definitely don’t. It’s all very mundane.
Have you ever had a flying dream?
Oh yeah. I remember having a flying dream as a kid, I must have been maybe 10 and I dreamt that I was flying into a tree and then I realized that Take That lived behind the dishwasher in the kitchen and I was like “This is so amazing, I can fly AND Take That live in my kitchen.”
What, like behind a door behind the dishwasher?
Yeah and they were very small.
It’s like Alice in Wonderland. I loved that, how there were all these little doors and you had to do trippy things like take a pill to get little to go inside. That reminds me of another one of your works, the hallway with all the doors opening to different realms.
That hallway was based on my childhood home’s hallway. It’s funny how you mentioned that meditation of remembering physical spaces because that’s what I was trying to remember. We had this glass in the door that had this ‘90s kinda circular pattern.
Did it have something funny on the ceiling? There was a design on the ceiling in the picture.
I think that is the 27. I put a 27 in the top because the house was number 27.
Ooh I like this. I like there being little hidden clues, it’s like T-Bag. Another thing I read about this gamma energy was the idea of invisible energy fields. What type of energy do you think you give off?
It’s hard, you know, what you want to give off versus what you actually do give off.
Okay then, what do you hope to give off?
I would always hope to make people feel comfortable. And I’d want to be giving off a light energy and not something heavy and intense.
I think you do that. Is that the kind of energy you feel most comfortable being around yourself? When you’re being creative, what’s the kind of energy that you find most optimal?
Like a very quiet space with no distractions but good music.
So, you were loving working from home.
Yeah. It’s like my utopia.
So, you’ve just been quietly thriving. And what type of energy do you hope that your work gives off?
There’s obviously lots of theory around color and how that affects your mood. And a brain eye connection as well. I guess color harmonies play quite a big role in the work that I make and I think there’s things like that, you don’t need to directly look at it but it would give you a positive vibe. Like pink to yellow, sunsetty type colors and different pops of neon and stuff that automatically set your brain into a positive flow, so that’s what I try and give off.
Interesting. But do you think blue and green should never been seen without something in between?
I think that’s a dated rule.