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How Shirin Ovissi found inspiration and healing through her art in the pandemic

This year has been one of unparalleled strife as the entire world collectively felt the weight of Covid-19. We adjusted to isolation and loneliness, all while living in fear of something invisible to the eye and hard to contain. The emotional toll this took on many became inspiration for some to find expressive ways to cope. We spoke to British-Iranian artist Shirin Ovissi for her take on how the pandemic influenced art, and how art can help heal a world in crisis.

Ms. Ovissi is an ardent believer in the power of healing through artistic expression. “Art therapy has long been used by psychiatrists as a therapeutic tool. In the process of producing art, you can process feelings, and it can lead to self-discovery by helping you acknowledge and recognise feelings that have been lurking in the background.” While the pandemic’s restrictions may have cut access to outlets for expression and stress relief, art remains a powerful solo endeavour for those seeking release. Many studies support the therapeutic value of art, including an article in the Harvard Medical School Health Publishing on The Healing Power of Art.

Ovissi says the best part of art is the limitless possibilities for creation, “No one needs any particular kind of training to produce an artwork. The only tools essential are enthusiasm and inspiration.” Her own artistic exploration began in her home country of Iran, where she was classically trained and for many years her paintings were classical Persian miniature. She has since explored modern styles of painting including abstract expressionism/ action paining and has gone on to develop her own unique style, producing bold abstract art works. Shirin’s work has received recognition by many and has been a curated collection by Saatchi Art.

When asked about her own experience of life as an artist in isolation, she reflected on this year of quarantine as a time of productivity to keep from an idle mind. “In the terms of coping, I have been using art as a means of self-expression and have probably produced more works than I thought possible over the past year.”

The result of this busy period of artistic channelling – an exhibition titled “In Your Mind”. This collection of works is centred on themes of nature and sustainability, a parallel between the resilience of nature and human spirit. “The majority of works going on display have been produced over the past year and have never been seen before. In a way, they show my coping mechanism during this pandemic. I wanted to have an exhibition to mark the end of this year which has been so hard for so many people. This exhibition is about celebrating the power of art and imagination over even the bleakest circumstances.”

“In Your Mind” was set to launch at the Copeland Gallery on December 22nd, but has been postponed until the new year due to COVID-related restrictions. For the latest updates on the exhibition, visit or follow her on Instagram at @shirinovissi

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