Who is theartfulj?
Julie Williams (thearfulj) is an artist who creates pieces that explore the intersection of her research into philosophical aesthetics, social connection, myth, meaning, linguistic semiotics and ancient languages. Julie’s work challenges the global acceptance of signified meaning using unusual mediums, such as an old derelict house, hair from survivors of sexual violence, snow, and contemporary methods such as performance, socially engaged and installation art practices.
Extending an invitation to her audience to reflect on their understanding of reality that may be ‘illusions they have forgotten are illusions’ (Friedrich Nietzsche). She is inspired and influenced by the socially engaged art of Ai Wei Wei, the spiritual effects of Mark Rothko’s abstract paintings and the concepts behind Agnes Martin’s simple lines that represent emotions.
Julie takes a cue from the French philosopher Roland Barthes, who wrote extensively on myth and its role in shaping our understanding of the world. In Barthes' words, "Myth is neither a lie nor a confession: it is an inflexion" - a subtle but potent shaping of our perceptions of reality. Julie's art seeks to challenge these inflexions, pushing her audience to recognise that everything is not as real as it seems.
Julie Williams, born in 1964 and residing in the Highlands, embarked on a new path as a mature student, finding in contemporary art a powerful means of self-expression and personal fulfilment. By courageously breaking away from her successful career as a well-known furniture designer, she has created the space and freedom to pursue her passion for art through mindful academic study.
SOCIALLY ENGAGED ART
Drawing the attention of the local press, her socially engaged art projects have involved the Scottish community in her work. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Julie responded to the widespread loneliness and isolation by collecting over one hundred submissions of symbols of hope from people locally and worldwide, channelling the resilience and optimism of individuals into a powerful artistic statement.
Her endurance and determination were on full display in her performance art on the frozen Loch Morlich, creating a film that touched many with its profound emotive resonance. Julie's work often addresses sensitive subjects such as gender-based violence in the home and suicide, bringing focus to issues of manipulation and coercive influence through her art.
Julie takes a cue from the French philosopher Roland Barthes, who wrote extensively on myth and its role in shaping our understanding of the world. In Barthes' words, "Myth is neither a lie nor a confession: it is an inflexion” – a subtle but potent shaping of our perceptions of reality. Julie’s art seeks to challenge these inflexions, pushing her audience to recognize that everything is not as real as it seems. Julie describes herself in this statement: "I view myself primarily as a researcher who happens to use art as a mode to visually communicate the key concepts in my academic writing. I believe this can be a powerful tool, as creative demonstrative representation can convey meanings in a symbolic way that can be more easily understood than the written or spoken word. Art symbolises my thoughts; the words I speak to myself.