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Amélie Barnathan

MA work

My project is a study of mass psychogenic illness (MPI), a modern phenomenon characterised by more than one person spontaneously developing hysterical physical and emotional symptoms. Cases of MPI are predominantly found in groups of pre-teen and usually occur in segregated and secluded spaces like boarding schools, or convents.

Symptoms include twitching, fainting, strange neurological symptoms, but also more culturally influenced behaviours like possession, with djinns and spirits. The schoolgirls present in my drawings evoke the ecstatic rituals of the Maenads madwoman of Ancient Greece, to the processions and Sabbaths of the witches of the Middle Ages. 

My work investigates the nuances of the female collective and the pressures of conforming in social environments. This project explores female identity and sexuality, its common psyche set in adolescence with the different types of illnesses that can occur at that age; dissociative disorders and conversion disorders such as anorexia. This is represented using symbolism borrowed from mythology, and imagery of fantasised memories. 


  • MA Degree


    School of Communication


    MA Visual Communication, 2016

  • I am an illustrator living in London, whose body of work spans illustration, fine art and printmaking. The foundation for my work stems from an obsessive relationship with drawing, particularly for its intimacy and very direct relationship with the mind, ultimately aiming to re-evaluate the importance and meaning of this medium within the rapid visual culture afforded to us by the digital age. I like to draw hugely expressive and complicated pictures and creates intricate visuals with a strong sense of narrative, inspired by many sources such as the sublime, the grotesque and representations of hell. 

    My drawings traverse the historical to mythical through dreams and nightmares. I am invested in creating new, alternative and absurd universes, fuelled by historical and contemporary references through personal fantasies and desires.

  • Degrees

  • BA Illustration and Visual Media, LCC London
  • Awards

  • Nominee, Jerwood Drawing Prize, 2013