From the moment I could create something on paper I did.
With my mom being an artist and my dad an architect, every minute of free time when I was younger, I spent drawing. Art has always been my passion. To have someone look at something I’ve created just fills me with pride and is still what drives me today. At A level I achieved the highest A level art grade in the country and went on to do a degree in Fine Art, graduating in 2011. After I left, I felt a bit stuck with what to do with all my buzzing creativity and went to work in retail whilst I had a think. I pursued an MA but whilst studying was diagnosed with epilepsy. Epilepsy knocked my confidence tremendously; I could no longer travel on my own and lost my driving licence. I went straight back into painting every day, continuing my art practice outside my job roles to get me through and give me back a sense of independence again.
My MA provided me with many more business-focused skills that showed me I could apply my creativity in many different ways. From then, I went on to get marketing roles for numerous companies and eventually became an event manager for a retail events agency. Whilst there I was diagnosed with another invisible illness, IBD. Not long after being diagnosed, I applied for an artist’s residency at the School of Art that was themed around the discrimination South Asian women can face who suffer from IBD. Getting the residency opened my eyes to the creative buzz of the school and I knew I needed an element of that in my job again. Using the mix of art and health to speak about invisible illness really inspired me and after leaving my event manager role, I became a research assistant within the School of Art working on a project ‘Identifying the Successful Methodologies of the STARTS prize.’ This project concentrated on art and science, but also allowed me to meet and work with amazingly creative and inspiring people from across the University. I then knew I wanted to work with the University and after my previous role ended became Faculty Marketing Officer for the Faculty of Arts, Business and Social Sciences. Outside my role I still take part in numerous artists residencies that often involve the theme of art and health, recently working with the NHS in a campaign on mental health conditions as well as with the STEM team as a lead artist in their project ‘Life and Science’.
Charlotte is our Marketing Officer for the Faculty of Arts, Business and Social Sciences.
Being a sufferer of 3 invisible illnesses that have affected my life over the past few years.
I have seen how art and imagery can help people speak about an invisible condition. In my artwork outside my role at the University, I look at how having a picture of your symptoms, i.e., a scan, could help an individual in speaking about what is going on and how they feel when they can’t explain it to others. My work, ‘Worlds within Worlds’ that was recently exhibited at Wolverhampton Art gallery, depicts 3 scans of people with invisible illnesses, epilepsy, arthritis and cystic fibrosis. The illumination of the drawings within the work encourages people to talk about their symptoms and visualise what is going on inside them, a world they can’t always explain. I have also recently been exhibited in the ‘Now we’re talking’ Art trail in Worcester. This trail around the city allowed me to produce artwork based on the condition of PTSD, something I have suffered from as a result of my epilepsy. In this work, I produced large scale prints of my drawings of PET scans of individuals brains who are both sufferers and none sufferers of PTSD. This allowed viewers to see the difference in the patterns of the brain and depict a visualisation of the changes in our brains when triggers happen. I feel creativity can help anyone in expressing how they feel and drive them forward to feel like they have achieved something, even if some days inside you feel as if you can’t.
'Worlds within Worlds' - Art by Charlotte Dunn
What drives me forward?
Creativity has always been a big drive for me and working with others to share creative ideas and achieve something together means everything. If you can look at something and say, ‘we did that’, it’s the best feeling in the world! It makes me happy to think I have carried on my creativity through my job roles in some way, despite many challenges, and now work with some brilliantly imaginative people within my team and faculty.
I’m different in many ways, but it’s important we all have differences. We wouldn’t be human if we were all the same, it’s important we can share our differences and make a difference with them.