Aaron McPolin


“We kill all the caterpillars and complain there are no butterflies” (Series: PIN CUSHION), 2022  

Special Edition 1 of 1. Photograph on fine art cotton rag, 46 x 46 cm | Framed: 59.5 x 59.5 cm 


Art Direction and Photography: Aaron McPolin

Art Direction and Needle / Taxidermy Artistry: Jessie Walker

Model: Alex Gerrard

Butterflies: Morpho Didius


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Artist Statement

This series is not about being Broken, it's about what happens next. It's about rebuilding and healing, it's about how growth, strength, and pride come with vulnerability, how we all feel intensely even if we don't show it on the surface. Quite often it is the healing process where we change the most, exploring our scars and reconnecting with ourselves. Self-harm is an external expression of internal pain, there are so many types of pain that are not only socially acceptable but are considered necessary for each person to endure, no one is exempt, however, the healing process is often hidden and considered shameful if expressed. A part of the freedom of this art form is how it heals, allowing the individual to outwardly display and endure their raw emotional self, without judgment and with complete understanding.
"From the first needle, I felt like I was given a gift and at the same time I was a treasure"

We are fascinated by pain endurance and struggle. But hide from the aftermath, we compare stories on the acceptable levels of pain for someone to feel and the suitable length of time they can struggle. Needle Art allows the mind to connect back to the body, to find one’s limits, and externally expresses the internal. Pleasure and pain become intertwined, passing through a series of consensual gates a journey of self-discovery is in motion as the needle artist guides the model’s experience. Our brains respond to the physical trauma by producing a concoction of chemicals, that create a trance-like state of lucidity and bliss, enveloping the model known as ‘sub space’ the mental, emotional and spiritual self traverses a journey with the physical self.

"It was like stepping outside of time for just a little while to breathe freely."

“Needles for me had always represented my father's death from type one diabetes, a tool used to constantly measure, check, relieve or endure, this symbol was ‘suffering’, a necessity and a long-lasting memento to the pain he endured. To use such a tool to heal the mind, the body, the soul was unthinkable. When I met Needle Artist Jessie Walker I had my awakening “Pin Cushion’ was sparked, a series that has helped further my understanding of how people heal, express, and connect by enduring to the deepest corners of their inner workings. J. Walker- 'My first needle experience came roughly 4 months after a suicide attempt. Which had strangely felt like it woke me up after having been asleep for nearly a decade, From the first needle I felt like I was given a gift and at the same time I was treasure. When all the needles were in and woven with black ribbon, I felt bliss and relaxed. The look on my needle artist's face was one I had never seen, a mixture of acceptance, peace, calm, awe with empathy for the relief I was feeling in that moment, I felt seen and I didn't have to hide my pain, I didn't have to control my reactions or worry about anything outside that moment. It was like stepping outside of time for just a little while to breathe freely. It was the first time in my life I felt beautiful.”


Artists, Photographer, and videographer, McPolin delves into areas of subculture, shining a light upon taboo realms and giving the audience an insight into other worlds they may never have experienced, or fully understood. McPolin’s art provokes the viewer into reflecting upon their own ideals, exposing their preconceived mindsets and intentionally aiming to provoke the viewer through juxtaposing the taboo and the beautiful. A provocateur, McPolin’s work is inspired by psychology, history, and the challenging of social norms, adopting symbolism and iconography into his art to create new meaning. McPolin’s earlier works ‘A Pattern of Rebirth’ speaks to our own mortality, whereas McPolin’s exhibition ‘A Tender Dissolution’ is a three-year study of the art form Shibari, Kinbaku, and intimacy won the international photography awards for fine art.

McPolin is fascinated by the nuances of culture, our joint history, and social practices, he sees art not only as a way of expressing or communicating but also as a driving force for social change and innovation. McPolin believes that “Through art, I can show the truth of something, it’s only through the vulnerability of art that we see a glimpse of who someone really is, a brushstroke, a twist of a hand, the dilation of a pupil, to create is the rawest most ancient human act we have”. McPolin’s design and advertising background influence his exhibitions, often curating multi-sensory experiences, built with context, the experience leads his viewers down paths of visual consensual gates that communicate his art narratives and puts a mirror to the viewer to question what they know and feel. McPolin’s work spans 15 years, working in fashion, film, and fine art.

Exhibition List

A Pattern of Rebirth – 2014
The Garden – 2015
A Tender Dissolution – 2017
Treasure The Erotic – 2019 Beverly Hills
Treasure The Erotic – 2021
Pin Cushion – 2023


IPA awards Fine Art Nude 2017
IPA awards Beauty and Advertising 2018
Beautiful Bizarre Magazine – honorable mention 2020

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