Furloughed Photographer Transforms During Lockdown

Philippa Cooper
4 min readJun 21, 2021


Tik-Tok Can’t Stop This Blossom From Biting Back Against Personal Demons and Predjudice.

Gabrielle Steberis is a self-portrait artist and photographer one simply cannot ignore. Her approach is multi-faceted so best be prepared for a surprise in every release; she is a true changeling.

From humble, ethereal beginnings, you can see true progression in her mindset and her artistic integrity; no longer a sweet blossom, Ms Steberis is a beguilling rose abundant with thorns; art you cannot help but covet no matter how uncomfortable the message and imagery is to wrap your fist around. And many do with engagement on Instagram being a resounding clamour for more: We Stan Steberis!

Her body of work transitions constantly, bravely sprouting more blossoms to draw you in. As with the most precious flowers, this one dug roots deep into the dirt. With the onset of the pandemic and pre-existing depression, her successfully managed bulimic/binge eating-disorder was kicked into overdrive by lockdown; recovery began to reverse.

“I found life extremely difficult, to the point that I idolised the idea of suicide everyday. The eating disorder caused me to gain masses amounts of fat, and because of how that made me feel I was then self-medicating everyday with marijuana.”

Pandemic Series- Gabrielle Steberis

It is very common for those experiencing a crisis to turn to some form of self-medication as a form of self-care. Marijuana can be a very valuable medication when taken as instructed but, for Gabrielle, she concluded that her use was a self-destructive coping mechanism.

“I just wanted to block being alive out… I started to feel lethargic, and my then-partner was also feeling the effects of isolation mentally. This spilled over into my own mental clarity. With that, our relationship broke down and I was left to deal with a breakup during a national lockdown.”

This experience is something so many can share; relationship breakdowns have been at an all-time high during the pandemic with an increase in domestic crime, divorce, separation and high levels of relational stress.

“Honestly I didn’t cope, I again was greeted with the old familiar feeling of suicidal ideation, making myself sick, exercising twice a day in order to punish myself for not losing more weight, and I gained anxiety of people and the outside world.

Gabrielle moved back in with her mother. And regardless of these painful relapses, a sense of freedom and positive wellbeing returned. She began to practice healing by actively making creativity a part of lockdown life.

“[When] I started focusing on my creative career. I’d never felt as happy in my entire life. During the pandemic I found that creating self-expressive self-portraits was a way of releasing all the hurt, all the darkness that I was experiencing. I was desperate to find an outlet that wasn’t going to damage my body on the inside [and] outside.”

Gabrielle’s self-portraiture has progressively moved from the curated instagram-appropriate photographs, or choreographed portraits provides to clients of her photography business. Her personal portfolio has become a catalogue of unflinching graphic imagery and sobering visual narratives that give you the same sense of toxic pleasure as sniffing petrol. Or seeing rainbows of oil in clear water. You can’t help but be captured by her uncompromising display of the emotional aesthetic.

“I am creating pieces that people need, that people can feel, and see themselves in. I guess the impact that I’ve seen on other people since I started this new art venture is that people are becoming more expressive with their own artistic talents.

Writers note: *raises hand as she has been personally, positively affected*

I found that people are wanting to be open with their own struggles too.
Most importantly I’ve found that people find the art comforting to have in their homes, as a reminder of their own life experiences and progress.”

And as if in complete defiance of the power, strength and exhilarating storytelling of her most recent series titled Humanities Armageddon (a primeval set of visuals drawing attention to how the human race fuels its fire; and at what cost), Tik-tok has already slammed her with a full engagement ban. I suggest you go for a walk in her rose garden. Bare the brush of thorns and grasp a piece of her exquisite, budding story that social media is unfairly composting. The irony of this metaphor is not lost on me; you have to see her newest release to believe it.

To read more about this artist and her fight against the Instagram algorithm with her Enchantress Series, you can read more here: https://medium.com/carre4/taboo-pulling-back-the-veil-on-instagrams-male-gaze-fff4b8de8131

Her photography, including the most recent release Humanities Armageddon is available for sale here on her Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/GsFineArtPrints

And you can follow her breath-taking process through her Instagram here:https://www.instagram.com/gabriellesteberis/



Philippa Cooper

Furious learner, exploring personal development, mental health advocacy and human connections. Check out my website: borderlinekitty.com/