Carly Seller multi-disciplinary artist based in Plymouth, working with performance, sound, video, textiles, sculpture, photography, moving image and plant materials. Interested in how humans relate to natural environments and develop awareness of our inner experiences, her influences come from healing rituals, nature connection, somatic and embodiment practices. Seller merges her art practice with her work as a yoga teacher, finding these two practices informing one another in dialogue around the nature of experience, energy and transformation.
For the State of Emergency micro commissions, Seller has created Healing Tool I: Hugging Machine; a soft sculpture taking the form of a large hanging mobile from which a bunch of hands and arms made from fabrics are suspended. The fabrics were hand-dyed by the artist using foraged plant materials that have been used traditionally in folk medicine to support the heart and circulation, respiratory system and lungs.
The process used to dye fabrics with medicinal plants is influenced by the traditional Indian healing practice of Ayurvastra, where patients sleep under cloth sheets dyed with specific plants and spices and absorb the benefits of the plant from the cloth through the skin. The arms are weighted, responding to more modern therapeutic objects such as weighted blankets that are used to ease anxiety and other conditions.
Seller has created a video of a performance to camera, using her body to activate the sculpture, alongside a spoken dialogue that weaves together research and inspiration on touch and the healing qualities of nature, the processes of making (foraging, dyeing, working with textiles) and her experiences of lockdown.
During this period of social distancing and self-isolation, the themes addressed in her practice have come to the forefront of public awareness. As we have the opportunity to pause and reflect on our personal and social values, we also find ourselves in a situation where our freedom and normal behaviours are restricted, particularly when it comes to touch.
Touch is vital for human development. Hugs don’t just affect our emotional health, they also impact us on a cellular level and through our hormones. Four hugs a day are required for basic human development; eight hugs a day keep us operating at a maintaining level; twelve hugs a day enable us to experience growth. Lack of touch is a profoundly disturbing side effect of the pandemic and is the influence behind Healing tool 1: hugging machine.