Banner Image: A very long concertinaed page covered in brightly coloured organic shapes and outlined in black is opened out across a grey floor. The end lies flat on the floor with the rest of the page standing on points of the zig-zag. It stands next to a white wall.

Latest Shape collaboration: Annie Crawford was one of our Shape Open 2021 artists.

Artist Statement: Annie Crawford is a UK-based artist working predominantly with sculpture, painting, and print. Her art practice is focused on her neurodivergence, particularly the challenges she faces with communication. Annie is Autistic and has Selective Mutism and because of that she often finds herself unable to speak. She finds her voice through art and aims to make a powerful statement about her experiences. Annie’s work is centred around the concept of Pre-Speech, which is the internal formation of letters and words before they become recognisable external speech. She’s developed a series of abstract forms that represent words in their unformed state. Annie often feels as though she’s mentally forming words, but can’t verbally express them, so in some ways, her work reflects that experience.

These abstract forms are influenced by the shape of neurons particularly at the sight of synaptic transmission as this where thoughts and signals to perform actions – such as speaking – are processed. The majority of her references in the development of this work come from linguistics and neurolinguistics. For example, The Connectome Project which builds a “network map” for the anatomical and functional connectivity of the healthy human brain and forms a body of research for neural differences such as Autism.

The imagery from this study has also hugely influenced the colour choice for her sculptures and paintings. She uses bright colours (often graduated) to suggest energy, that might be the energy that a single neuron uses to communicate one word. Annie’s practice aims to make something intangible (the formation of Pre-Speech) into a tangible representation.

A thick spined book with a black cover is laid open on a white surface. The inside cover and front page is covered in brightly coloured organic shapes and outlined in black.
'Piles of Pre-Speech' by Annie Crawford

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