Mahlia Amatina is an international artist based in Reading, whose artistic practice began just before she was diagnosed with Autism in 2015. Her work is focused on themes around neurodiversity, and she uses multi-sensory experiences to give insight into life on the autistic spectrum. Her practice includes immersive interactive installations, abstract mixed media paintings and digital artwork.
In this blog post, Mahlia will delve into her project Around the World in 80 Washing Lines, by telling us about the importance of the project, how it came about and what her plans are to expand on it.
“I am Mahlia, a neurodivergent artist and advocate. This is an important week for me, as we celebrate World Autism Awareness Day this past Sunday 2nd. I was diagnosed with autism back in 2015 and this had a real life-changing impact on me. My work involves raising understanding and acceptance around neurodiversity and this is achieved through my art, as well as writing blogs, giving talks, trainings and mentoring. In this occasion, I’ll be offering a snapshot of my social art project Around the World in 80 Washing Lines.
Around the World in 80 Washing Lines is based upon the concept of humanity, connectedness and all that we have in common with each another. The project contains 80 visual stories of washing lines from 80 different countries from around the world. It was incredible to work on the first edition as I connected with people from across the world, exploring similarities between us as humans. Each washing is accompanied by an interview conducted with the participant, providing a unique snapshot into their life.
The first visual story I’d like to share with you is from Tom, based in New Zealand:
“Tom took a chance on life. He left his former life in London – a life that included a secure job, friends and money. He moved to New Zealand and now works as an outdoor adventure leader. Because Tom lives with six other housemates, there’s not always space to dry his clothes. He likes to hang his clothes on the balcony outside which overlooks Lake Wakatipu and the remarkable mountain range. He prefers this view to Clapham High Street. Tom is relaxed.”
While receiving all these photographs, I really appreciated the contrast between each image, and how a topic as simple as laundry could provoke such beauty and conversation with strangers across the globe. However, for the second edition of ‘Around the World in 80 Washing Lines’ (#80WashingLines), I’m looking to create a brand new, multi-media, hybrid exhibition that considers today’s themes and concerns from people around the world.
Accessibility and raising understanding around autism is an important and integral part of my practise, and #80WashingLines is no different. The initial iteration was presented in an immersive multi-sensory manner, with an installation that you could see, touch, smell and hear. As an autistic person, I experience a heightened sensitivity in my senses, and I wanted people to use all their senses to experience my art, and to learn this about those on the autism spectrum.
Accessibility is a core part of my art practice, and for those of us who are autistic, there is no set month to champion and express our neurodiversity.
These periods of autism celebration have become about acceptance rather than awareness, as you can be aware of something, but that does not mean you are necessarily accepting of autistic people and our differences. I hope each year we can progress, and that soon we will move into a phase of autism appreciation. This is where learning around autism, and other neurodivergences, is led by us and breaks stereotypes by sharing our diverse and unique stories.”
Mahlia is currently working on the second edition of the project, and you can read more about it here.
Follow Mahlia on Instagram here.