Archive | Psychology RSS feed for this section

Tell your story walking

7 Dec

.

For the last two weeks now I have been intending to post out a piece on The Festival of Ideas and ArtiPeeps’ future. It hasn’t materialised for a number of reasons,  primarily because I seem to have lost myself somewhere in all the swirl of ‘doing’ and plans for the future. There has been no space for any extraneous writing other than those required by funders. Upon exploration now it has become strikingly clear to me that during this year I seem to have foregone self-care for service, which ultimately (I know) can lead to no good. You don’t need to totally ring yourself dry, background your needs and story for the sake of your passion/vision/project. It’s easy to do but it isn’t health or well-being or sensible. If you do the act is probably rooted in something darker and often in personal history.

I know that my bi-polar doesn’t help the situation. Balance is hard to find when you’re permanently chemically imbalanced, and I’m so driven and generally enthusiastic that I forget that there is an underlying process going on that is triggered by stress and drives me from up to down: if there is an up there WILL be, guaranteed, a down (that is the way of bi-polar, I forget that).

I also have two very active and powerful schemas going on which skew my thinking: what I call my ‘I am responsible’ schema and my ‘Care for others’ schema. These are interwoven patterns of thinking, cognitive miswirings that I have to permanently handle. They are always triggered by ‘doing’ and/or creating and they complicate everything I do. They were powerfully triggered by The Nine Realms, and as this year has gone on I’ve had to manage them more and more. They are strong and nasty and can make me think I’m not good, make me hit myself, or take things away like self-care, meditation, gentleness, food or steadiness and replace it with cruelty, anxiety, sabotage and a level of self-detestation that is hard to understand when you think I would be feeling great about myself.

When I stopped cognitive behavioural therapy, even though I had come to understand my thinking errors profoundly, I knew these miswirings couldn’t be fixed. I was gently told that I just had to become an expert at managing them, and that each time I did it would get a little bit better. Inch work which accumulates. That each time I tried something new, like ArtiPeeps, or the BBC, or the theatre company, or the library, that I would have to face these schemas and ways of thinking again and again. I don’t think I was presumptuous enough to think that I would come through The Nine Realms psychologically unscathed, but I was and am, shocked at how quickly, despite the success of it and the clear benefit, my balance went, how quickly I chose to replace myself with ArtiPeeps and the greater good.

My self-esteem has never been connected to what I do, what I create. You might expect otherwise. My self-esteem has always been nurtured when I have truly felt I have taken care of myself, not sabotaged, not endured or stuck the shards in (again). An intrinsic feeling (consolidation) and not something externally manifested. This is why achieving things externally never lasts for me because by the time whatever I have decided to do has finished I’ve usually died somewhere along the line and am scrambling around in my mind for some resemblance of myself. Why have I done this again?!

It took much longer to tie up The Nine Realms than I expected. There was the success of The Festival of Ideas (which came as a delightful add-on afterwards) the wonderful coming together again, and then the sending out of the backer rewards (delivering) and the last payments of invoices, which only was completed today. Unexpected things cropped up too: I had to rejig The Nine Realms budget for The Arts Council only the week before last when all I wanted was for things to stop. After a year of regular 60 hr a week work patterns and driving myself towards this collective goal and celebration of collaboration, I just wanted it all to stop. How can it be that the event happened 11-15 September and I’m still putting the project to rest at the end of November? Every ounce of me had been given- willingly, and I had to draw on a sense of energy and a positive psychology that wasn’t there anymore. My best self.

I had to use every reserve to complete what needed to be done, whilst my feelings of badness started to become huge (that’s the miswiring and the stress). What should have elicited feelings of joy and pride left me more in contact with my ongoing psychological vulnerability (my grin can hide a lot).

Physically I have had difficulties this year: I now have to walk with a stick a lot of the time, and I am losing mobility in three of my fingers in my left hand. I have cerebral palsy and I think in middle age, things are catching up on me. I soon won’t be able to grip much with my left hand and without my leg brace I walk like a geriatric lobster. I’m having to learn a new way of being, come to terms with the restrictions of my new physicality. When I caught glimpses of myself in The Nine Realms event photos, I was quite shocked at my own vulnerability- how stiff and ungainly I’d become. This physical shift has been going on at the same time as ArtiPeeps’ growth. It’s ironic.

For the past couple of weeks I have banished myself to my bed- to restore my body and mind and to try and reinstate some balance in my life. Every single self-care and physical practice that had been so carefully created over the previous three years vanished during this year. I took it all away myself ,and replaced self-care and myself with ArtiPeeps. It was a willing, wonderful giving which I couldn’t control, but equally it can’t continue because it’s unsustainable, doesn’t allow me to create and nurture my own story, and to give my true best to ArtiPeeps. How can well-being be a fundamental to ArtiPeeps if I don’t practice it myself? It doesn’t set a good example and serves ‘old Nicky’-beliefs that, in reality, are long gone. This is what humanitarian Zainab Salbi said about the nature of giving fully:

.

.

I don’t want to be that rung out towel. I want to continue to grow ArtiPeeps into something wonderful, and to celebrate the creativity and talents of everyone who is involved. I want to serve from a position of strength and (as much as possible) equanimity. Now, I just have to get the balance right and to keep on walking the best way I know how- with integrity, care and a quieter mind.

Addendum:

Here’s a profoundly valuable and insightful video by performance artist Marina Abramović which has further consolidated my belief  in the notion of challenge that I have recently embedded into ArtiPeeps’ new artistic statement

.

.

As ever, thank you for your interest, and I shall endeavour to get a post out about the 3rd ArtiPeeps season of work shortly.

Nicky

P.S.  Deb Talan’s song “Tell Your Story Walking” was is inspired by “Motherless Brooklyn”, a novel by Jonathan Lethem

Does The Sun Forget To Shine by John Mansell and “Polaroid (distant seaside memories) by Ieuan Edwards: The Loneliness Collaboration #3

1 Apr

Creatives Making A Difference

‘Supporting Mental Health’

LONELINESS Collaboration

Welcome to the third and final collaboration in a six week, fortnightly engagement with the feeling of Loneliness.  For this particular collaboration we have paired 3 artists and 3 poets together.  The poets have written a poem around this particular emotion and then passed it to the artists for their interpretation. The artist can work in parallel with the themes  within the poetry or in contrast. In so doing we’re attempting to artistically and accessibly engage with the feeling of loneliness. Each pairing is different so  we’re hoping to create a range of interpretations that might communicate something to everybody. The poets and artists have been exchanging  ideas over a number of weeks and what you have seen as the 6 weeks have rolled by is the diverse expression of that exchange. We hope to turn our mental health collaborations into an exhibition next year and an online resource. 

Big thanks go to the other poets and artists involved in this collaboration: Stephanie Brennan and Deborah Sheehy, Charlie Eliot Winters and Jeremy Moseley. Your work has been outstanding! 

 Your feedback on this project would be very much welcomed.

.

This week’s collaboration features

John Mansell (Poet) and Ieuan Edwards (Artist)

.

.

polaroid

“Polaroid (distant seaside memories)”

 

.

Does the Sun Forget to Shine

.

She awoke as usual;
the pale ochre of dawn suffusing
………………………onto her tiny form,
………………………wrapped in the middle of the bed.
Stretching, she found the quaver of her voice
braid the early chill
……………………………….Good morning me.

………..Life like tainted breath
………..spools the sudatory day,
………..The wrecks of dreams, their hulls
………..mauled by the coral of neglect,
………..crumbling on rocks of melancholy.
………..Whispers that were voices once known.
………..Eyes flecked with the discolouration of ennui.
………..Time traces over her.
………..An indistinguishable imprint in the vanishing ground.

Arranging her perfumery,
she touched the fragrance
…………………….of a teenage girl
…………………….playing in the snow.
And with a casual aside leant to the mirror
desilvering like that teenage girl who fell
and found no hand to help her up.
…………………………………I was once all I wished
…………………………………………..but that was.
……………………………….I knew you when you were beautiful.
………………………………I knew you when there were lips for you.
………………………………………..Have a good day me

………Cold in malefic darkness.
………Crisp moments of the past shuddering in illusion.
………The stalks of ruin litter the glass table
………Shelves moiled in damp-dust.
………he drapes of some remote taste glistens untouched.
………A single voice gyred to impossible dialogue.
………Trails suppurate the translucent blue her mind ever evokes.
………Twisted shafts of that conversation
………fluted by the lambent decline.

She held the photograph
as void of life as memory.
The man therein without a smile
……………………..featureless before a line of sea;
……………………..as still as his grave,
A tear blossomed and burst
………………………into vitellary regret.
A daily kiss of the glass.
………………………………….Hello my love, from me!

…………Clutched obsolete gestures.
…………Warped on fields of yester-dawn.
…………Amethyst moans of dissipating breath.
…………The towers of other worlds fold into shifting mist.
…………Emptied rivers of songs;
………….sun fond:
……………………..the what was…..
………….Midnight tears, when all that would ease
……………………..is distant and gone.

And she knew she would never
hear another’s voice in the confines of her existence but her own.
……………………And that sad lost echo
……………………of her lover’s voice
trailing ever fainter
…………………….into the hollow silences
…………………….of all time.
She poured a welcome Merlot.
…………………….Listened to Satie;
…………………….looking beyond her moment.
………………………………Good health me………

And all she beheld as a future
mewled with the same stain
bleaching her happiness
of every colour she knew.

 

.

John Mansell

I was born in Manchester and lived there most of my life. I studied Ancient and Medieval History at the University of Manchester, my thesis being on he ancient Welsh poem Y Gododdin. I successfully completed the first year of an M Phil concerned with the Dark Age aristocratic warband known as the Comitatus, I sadly never completed it. I still live and work in the Manchester area. I have been writing ever since I can remember,usually short stories or poetry. What really started me was writing lyrics for my mates’ band as a young teenager. I have self published one volume entitled “Kakemonos” and have had about 100 pieces published in various small publications. Currently working on a website to gather most of my work together. But being one more comfortable with pen and paper, and the beauty of libraries this is proving a slow task.

.

https://twitter.com/JohnMansell1

 

You can see John’s contribution to The Recovery Project  here and tto A Christmas Carol here

Ieuan Edwards

“I am an illustrator and printmaker, working primarily in linocut. My overarching aim is to emulate the spirit, energy and edge of the originators of the medium; one which has often been used throughout the years in political and protest art.

.
My areas of interest are industry (drawing particularly on my coal mining heritage), tradition, eccentricity, tribalism, exploration, folklore and the human interaction with the animal kingdom. Living on the Kent coast – with its heady mix of seaside towns, folk festivals, history and colourful characters – provides me with a plentiful supply of inspiration.”

http://www.blackgoldpress.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/ieuanedwards

You can see Ieuan’s Weekend Showcase here 

 

Watch out tomorrow for our second creative resident Ben A.Cooper and the first post post of his residency.

.

If you would like to get involved with one of our future collaborations or opportunities. Do get in contact via the contact form on the What’s On Page or via @ArtiPeeps. Thank you so much for your interest.

.

Dismissed by Charlie Eliot Winters, Photography by Jeremy Moseley

17 Mar

Creatives Making A Difference

‘Supporting Mental Health’

LONELINESS Collaboration

Welcome to the second collaboration in a six week, fortnightly engagement with the feeling of Loneliness.  For this particular collaboration we have paired 3 artists and 3 poets together.  The poets have written a poem around this particular emotion and then passed it to the artists for their interpretation. The artist can work in parallel with the themes  within the poetry or in contrast. In so doing we’re attempting to artistically and accessibly engage with the feeling of loneliness. Each pairing is different so  we’re hoping to create a range of interpretations that might communicate something to everybody. The poets and artists have been exchanging  ideas over a number of weeks and what you’ll be seeing as the 6 weeks roll by is the diverse expression of that exchange. We hope to turn our mental health collaborations into an exhibition next year and an online resource. 

 Your feedback on this project would be very much welcomed.

.

This week’s collaboration features

Charlie Eliot Winters and Jeremy Moseley

.

.

Dismissed

by Charlie Eliot Winters

.

I have been dismissed from my duties
Bowed head, wordless and bewildered
Tumbling a bottle cap between my forefinger and thumb
marvelling at its conical shape and thinking:
the only things worth doing are calculations

.
How many times have I cut through crowds without faces?
Warm beige buoys
bobbing above a cracked cement sea
emitting their cacophony of
misfires
trial runs
maybe laters

.
I am watching from behind a frosted glass window
figures pacing the streets, glints of light hitting their wrists and necks
They are granting and dismissing duties from floor to ceiling,
loading boxes upon boxes with pictures, papers, ticket stubs
as to not confuse “loneliness” with “alone”

.
How many conversations were held along this creaking floor?
Dangerous things often said
but seldom meant
Their bottle-capped stories
uttered to fill the air
hold their breath
pass the time

.

.

Charlie Eliot Winters

Charlie currently resides in Toronto, Ontario where he is pursuing a degree in Photographic Preservation.  When the nitrile gloves come off, he works on his slowly but steadily increasing collection of poems.

http://cewinters.tumblr.com/

https://twitter.com/ce_winters

You can see Charlie’s Weekend Showcase here and his FreeSpaces here, here and here

Jeremy Moseley

London based photographer, Jeremy Moseley, seeks to capture the spirit of urban and street photography from a different or unusual perspective. Jeremy’s skills have been developed through portrait commissions and various photography projects in London, Brighton, Ibiza and Paris.
.

http://www.jeremymoseleyphotography.com/

https://twitter.com/jeremymoseley1

https://twitter.com/captainsidcup

You can see Jeremy’s Weekend Showcase here and his work in The Recovery Project here

 

The third Loneliness collaboration post will be on Tuesday 1st April. Do come back and see how poet John Mansell and artist Ieuan Edwards engage with the very same feeling.

If you would like to get involved with one of our  future collaborations or opportunities. Do get in contact via the contact form on the What’s On Page or via @ArtiPeeps. Thank you so much for your interest.

.

Mice Dance To the Spiders’ Applause by Stephanie Brennan, Artwork by Deborah Sheehy

6 Mar

Creatives Making A Difference

‘Supporting Mental Health’

LONELINESS Collaboration

Welcome to the first collaboration in a six week, fortnightly engagement with the feeling of Loneliness.  For this particular collaboration we have paired 3 artists and 3 poets together.  The poets have written a poem around this particular emotion and then passed it to the artists for their interpretation. The artist can work in parallel with the themes  within the poetry or in contrast. In so doing we’re attempting to artistically and accessibly engage with the feeling of loneliness. Each pairing is different so  we’re hoping to create a range of interpretations that might communicate something to everybody. The poets and artists have been exchanging  ideas over a number of weeks and what you’ll be seeing as the 6 weeks roll by is the diverse expression of that exchange. We hope to turn our mental health collaborations into an exhibition next year and an online resource. 

 Your feedback on this project would be very much welcomed.

.

This week’s collaboration features

Stephanie Brennan and Deborah Sheehy 

.

Dancing Mice

Dancing Mice by Deborah Sheehy

. .

Mice Dance to the Spiders’ Applause

 by Stephanie Brennan

.

A latchkey kid small for her age
she balanced on a bucket,
unlocked the door
to a dark house where
mice scurried in the walls, and
spiders accumulated in corners.
 
A 40-watt bulb swayed from a cord.
She tossed her stories on the floor:
a dice game of classmates in cliques,
whispers of a skirt too long, of shoes all wrong.
 
In the corners
the mice pirouetted,
the spiders spun their silk,
but still she would not smile.
 
Hiding behind her slack dark hair
at the back of the class
the answers shimmered
in the weighted sunlight,
but she never raised her hand.
 
At her desk she sketched a mouse.
A spider curtsied, extended four arms
a perfect waltz across the page,
but still she would not smile.
 
As she grew boys took notice.
One, a shape-shifter,
escorted her home to meet his mum.
That genteel lady sized her up
deemed her unworthy of her sizable plans
for her obedient boy.
 
Alone in her room
the white mice pranced
on pink feet
to the spiders’ applause,
but still she would not smile.
 
On a pitch-black, moonless, starless night
she questioned her resolve.
But then she set herself to dream,
and when she woke
a song was fully-formed.
She got up out of bed, 
and heard her voice ascend.
The notes were clear and loud and long
the lyrics sad and true.
 
The mice sat rapt, the spiders stilled,
her ballad soared to light-filled halls.
To her surprise, a chorus echoed
to prove she’s not alone
 
The mice and spiders leapt to cheer
demanding encore, please
she bowed from the waist
and when she rose
a half-formed smile, a crescent moon
and tears and tears, of laughter

.

Stephanie Brennan:

Stephanie Brennan lives among the redwoods and fog in Sonoma County, California. She’s been writing fiction for many years, some of which may be found online at: People Do Things With Their Lives. Recently she has ventured into poetry having fallen in love with the tanka and haiku writers on Twitter. She finds the online community of poets an invaluable resource for learning and support. Her recent publication credits include: Poetry Nook, Bright Stars 1, and Bamboo Hut. Find her short Twitter poems @tantamount2, and her poetry site: Restraint Unfettered.

.

Deborah Sheehy

In the times in between life and a day job Deborah is an artist, writer and occasional photographer. Scottish by birth, she currently resides in the hills, paths, and narrow streets of a South Wales valley. Home is shared with her Irish husband – a maker of marvellous meals – and a hound called Henry whose days are spent in a happy amble of walks, sleeps and rubs. Inspiration comes primarily in the form of nature, especially the wild and deserted places and the creatures who reside there, as well as the stories, myths and happenings of times gone by. http://www.thehoneybeeandthehare.com/ https://twitter.com/honeybeeandhare You can see Deborah’s Weekend Showcase here . The second Loneliness collaboration post will be on Monday 17th March. Do come back and see how poet Charlie Winters and photographer Jeremy Moseley  engage with the very same feeling. If you would like to get involved with one of our  future collaborations or opportunities. Do get in contact via the contact form on the What’s On Page or via @ArtiPeeps. Thank you so much for your interest. .

Comfort Collaboration (Poetry/Art) #3

27 Nov


Comfort

Creatives Making A Difference

  ‘Supporting Mental Health’

Comfort Collaboration

Comfort: 1. a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint. 2. consolation for grief or anxiety.

Welcome to the third and final collaboration in a 5 week, fortnightly engagement with the notion of comfort.  Comfort is something we all need and often, curiously, find hard to get (either from ourselves or others). For this particular collaboration we have paired 3 artists and 3 poets together. Each poet/artist pair, in contrast to  our fear/trust collaboration have been working on the  single theme of comfort. The words and the images working together in  a  uniform exploration of the  texture and nuances of this basic human need. The poets and artists have been exchanging ideas over a number of weeks and what you’ll be seeing as the weeks pass is the diverse expression of that exchange.
 It’s our intention that these collaborations will form an online resource which will  potentially bring comfort, provide an innovative  means to engage with difficult feelings, and ultimately to provide access to information about mental health in a stimulating manner. The idea is that we will also eventually group these collaborations together into exhibitions and installations to further promote public awareness and engagement with these issues. Your feedback on this project would be very much welcomed.

.

This week’s collaboration features:

 Atalina Marie Homan (Artist) & 

Rebecca Audra Smith (Poet) 

.

Butterfly

.

Butterfly by Atalina Marie Homan

.

Butterfly

by Rebecca Audra Smith

.

Butterfly 2 by Rebecca Audra Smith

Please click on the poem to enlarge

.

You can find out more about Atalina and Rebecca here:

.

Atalina Marie Homan

Atalina Marie Homan is an artist, poet and writer. Born to a Polynesian mother and English father in the late seventies, she is inspired by both western and eastern culture.

Atalina’s approach to the arts is both expressive and spiritual. Her current portfolio includes a unique series of silhouette drawings, inspired by the wonders of nature and artistic traditions of the pacific that often contain a symbolic or storytelling element.

Atalina studied photography and graphic design and after developing an interest in eastern philosophy and meditation, has recently completed a Bachelors Degree in Metaphysical Science.

Atalina lives along the coast of England with her husband and three children and is currently working on her first book, ‘Love Says’, An inspirational collection of prose poetry written in the spirit of love.

 “I find the arts to be an expression of the soul, a way to both celebrate our journey and explore the illuminating landscape of our emotions. It is incredibly empowering to experience our ability to create, express and manifest our visions and dreams. We all have this ability and use it in many ways in our daily lives, visual creation in the arts simply brings that potential to our conscious awareness, that’s powerful!”

 www.atalinamarie.com

.

Rebecca Audra Smith

Rebecca Audra Smith has just finished a Masters in Creative Writing: Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her poems have been featured in Loose Muse’s fourth anthology, Cadaverine’s online magazine, and Now Then Manchester. She is one third of the Stirred feminist collective based in Manchester.

You can find her at beccaaudra.wordpress.com

.

 

.

 

Comfort Multiform Collaboration (Poetry/Photo) #2

11 Nov


Comfort

Creatives Making A Difference

  ‘Supporting Mental Health’

Comfort Collaboration

Comfort: 1. a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint. 2. consolation for grief or anxiety.

Welcome to the second collaboration in a 5 week, fortnightly engagement with the notion of comfort.  Comfort is something we all need and often, curiously, find hard to get (either from ourselves or others). For this particular collaboration we have paired 3 artists and 3 poets together. Each poet/artist pair, in contrast to  our fear/trust collaboration have been working on the  single theme of comfort. The words and the images working together in  a  uniform exploration of the  texture and nuances of this basic human need. The poets and artists have been exchanging ideas over a number of weeks and what you’ll be seeing as the weeks pass is the diverse expression of that exchange.
 It’s our intention that these collaborations will form an online resource which will  potentially bring comfort, provide an innovative  means to engage with difficult feelings, and ultimately to provide access to information about mental health in a stimulating manner. The idea is that we will also eventually group these collaborations together into exhibitions and installations to further promote public awareness and engagement with these issues. Your feedback on this project would be very much welcomed.

.

This week’s collaboration features:

 Ken Fasimpaur (Photographer) and Lauren Coulson (Poet) 

.

Severing Setting

Severing_Setting-09_Nov_2013-Full

.

.

Panic Attack

by Lauren Coulson

.

He finds me curled up
on the sofa like a tangled string.
Sclera stained pink;
canyons carved down my cheeks
like a forest cleaved by a river.

.
Words fail. My voice gets caught.
It’s knotted, tight, strangling
in my throat. A wounded animal,
I can only bleat out my sadness.

.
He scoops me up, swaddles me
with his arms like a newly born baby.
Traces his hands across the crumples
of my face, doesn’t speak.
I listen to the steady beat of his heart
like a radio, as mine begins to slow.

 

.

You can find out more about Ken and Lauren here:

Ken Fasimpaur: 

“My first known rolls of film, black and white stock exposed decades ago, involved documenting aircraft at a local air show or creating convincing but fake UFO snapshots at home. Since then I’ve followed a long cometary orbit in and out of photography, passing periodically through point and shoot film cameras, classrooms, negatives, darkrooms, digital cameras, Photoshop and cameraphones. Over the same period, my subjects have covered architecture, family, nature, surface and abandoned space.

For the past year or more, my photography has revolved in large part around my cameraphone. I’ve shot improvisationally wherever I was and whatever subject caught my fancy, processed the results on the fly, and posted them as possible. Vignette for Android has been my camera of choice and has provided the basis for the couple of filters I routinely use. I find a sense of captured moment in this method, and an emphasis on shooting images and not processing them, which appeals to me for now. When it comes to composition, I’m drawn to the nexus between detail and form, between abstracting the larger concrete and revealing the essential but ephemeral specifics of its nature.”

More of my mobile images can be found on Twitter at @kjfasimpaur

 on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/93020772@N05/

or at http://www.kenfasimpaur.com

.

Lauren Coulson

In 1992 a wriggling pink baby popped out of its’ mother, who proudly proclaimed “cor blimey, it’s a girl!”. Since then that baby has gone on to study art and get a first class degree in creative writing (although she is no longer a baby). She now spends her time creating crafts to sell in her online shop and writing about the world around her. Currently she is working on her first novel, a children’s book, but is a poet at heart. On top of this she has branched out into storytelling and running writing workshops in the local community. Mental health is a topic that is very close to her and something she is keen to give support to others about. When she grows up she wants to be a cat.

Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/milkymoonshop
Website: www.laurencoulson.co.uk

.

The next Comfort Collaboration will be on Wednesday 27th November

Comfort Multiform Collaboration (Poetry/Art) #1

30 Oct


Comfort

Creatives Making A Difference

  ‘Supporting Mental Health’

Comfort Collaboration

Comfort: 1. a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint. 2. consolation for grief or anxiety.

Welcome to the first collaboration in a 5 week, fortnightly engagement with the notion of comfort.  Comfort is something we all need and often, curiously, find hard to get (either from ourselves or others). For this particular collaboration we have paired 3 artists and 3 poets together. Each poet/artist pair, in contrast to  our fear/trust collaboration have been working on the  single theme of comfort. The words and the images working together in  a  uniform exploration of the  texture and nuances of this basic human need. The poets and artists have been exchanging ideas over a number of weeks and what you’ll be seeing as the weeks pass is the diverse expression of that exchange.
 It’s our intention that these collaborations will form an online resource which will  potentially bring comfort, provide an innovative  means to engage with difficult feelings, and ultimately to provide access to information about mental health in a stimulating manner. The idea is that we will also eventually group these collaborations together into exhibitions and installations to further promote public awareness and engagement with these issues. Your feedback on this project would be very much welcomed.

.

This week’s collaboration features:

 Hugo Smith (Artist) and Lenka Monk (Poet) 

.

Remembering

.

Remembering by Hugo Smith

.

Iridescent Point of View

by Lenka Monk

.

Many opaque months held captive

In asylum for the damned,

Where words of comfort lost their meaning

Where despair is all, but done.

 .

There resides the end of it all, or beginning of

brand new starts.

Lay in decay numb and weary,

Or escape the prison’s guards.

.

To gaze upon the same world, same things

For once to see the shadow’s hue

Nothing has changed, but the eyes

The iridescent point of view.

 .

Once again to see the colours

Of the raindrops through the rays,

Hear the whisper wind swept branches

Feel the blood rush in the veins.

 .

Let the sharp scythe fall silently

Into empty darkened space,

For the light now shines so brightly

Seeps inside and blunts the blades.

 .

The rusty chain that’s been biting

All the way down to the bone,

The mark will remain and will remind

It didn’t fall down on its own.

 .

To those of us who made the journey,

Those who’s soul once had bled

Oh, those are bravest in the darkness

Who touched that light up ahead.

.

.

You can find out more about Hugo and Lenka here:

.

Hugo Smith:

I am a Belfast based abstract artist.  I work in acrylic on canvas. I use bold colours, blends and images to capture the imagination. My art is based on two themes.  Firstly, memories of the past and the people who made it special.  Secondly, hope for the future. I want my work to ask questions, to inspire, to spark creativity, to add warmth and colour to the owners’ lives. I will always paint. I have big ambitions and I think it is important to dream big, think big and live big.

http://www.hugosmithoriginals.com/

https://twitter.com/Hsmithoriginals

.

Lenka Monk:

My name is Lenka, but of course you already know that, so let’s just expand that a little. Writing is my passion. My friend and I self-published a novel, so I am not a stranger to collaboration projects. Writing poems is my “therapy” and it helped me through some difficult times. It helps me express myself and deal with things, when other means just won’t do. When one is choking on words and no sound comes out, what better way is there to pour it all out than in ink? Or paint, if one is an artist, which I am most certainly not. I leave that to the professionals. 🙂 Although, sometimes I refer to my writing as: “painting the canvas with words.”

https://twitter.com/lenkster04

.

The next Comfort Collaboration will be on Monday 11th November

Poetry for Personal Change: Discovery and Wholeness

19 Aug

poetry-river

Poetry for Personal Change: Discovery and Wholeness

by Miranda Barnes

.

Part of my current research is exploring how the subjective, human experience creates this place within poetry that is “both.” Both a place of mystery, permeable and open, shifting like a ghost. A place where we receive. But also simultaneously a place that insists on precision, microscopic focus, finding the exact way to say a thing, so fiercely accurate that it is not repeatable. Clarity and accuracy meeting what cannot be pinned down, on the head of a pin.

.

Something happens at the meeting point, a dialogue between the hemispheres of the brain. A dialogue between mind and spirit. A place where our connections increase, both within ourselves and to the world around us.

.

I have heard it said that the creative impulse begins with the hunger for, or attraction to, what is beautiful. While passion for beauty is certainly a part of the truth for most creatives, I find that what is more powerful is the hunger for meaning. Meaning and significance. Meaning-making is the business of poetry, and when we connect to this meaning within ourselves, we find significance.

.
Poetry, and more broadly literature, has always offered more than just the benefit of something to read. From encounters with good literature, good poems, we find ourselves altered and awake to the dilemmas of human existence. Through adjacency with the stories of others we view our own significance, within the expansiveness of life. And the way a poem condenses meaning into the boldest, most impossibly true little mouthful of language, this leads us to eureka. Through the discovery of something so true, so profound, we find out just how big and how small we are at once.

.
I wouldn’t be the first to assert that exposure to the arts and humanities gives people a renewed sense of individual purpose and meaning. But in a current world climate where the importance of these studies seems to be declining, it’s even more urgent point out their powerful affects on people’s lives. One example comes out of Stanford University in California. Their Program in Ethics in Society offers humanities courses in the arts, philosophy, and history to residents of Hope House, an addiction treatment and recovery facility for women. The residents here learn the stories of historical female figures such as Emily Dickinson, Hildegard of Bingen, and Sojourner Truth.

.
The impact of these courses on the participants goes much further than traditional addiction treatment alone. Through the study of humanities subject matter the Hope House students encounter ethical dilemmas and philosophical questions, encouraging deep thinking and interaction with their own humanity. Over the course of the studies, each of these women are able to see herself as more than just an addict or an alcoholic, a shamed or reduced self, but again as a whole person. Rob Reich, who is a Stanford professor and director of the program, says of the course’s impact: “Because ‘the  humanities revolve around questions every human being grapples with,’ study of humanities subjects creates ‘a sense of possibility and agency that many [of the Hope House students] haven’t experienced in a long time.’”

.
Poetry specifically does accomplish something unique. The way poetry is composed, both in the context of its musicality (the meter and rhythm) and also its often surprising use of language, has an intriguing effect on the brain. It very literally spikes the brain’s electrical activity. In new research from Liverpool University, reported on by the Telegraph in January of this year, exciting brain imaging studies were done on readers who read passages of poetry and literary prose, versus more simplified prose with the same meaning.

.
The scans revealed that areas of intense brain activity lit up in both sides of the brain: the left part concerned with language, as expected, but also areas of the right hemisphere that relate to autobiographical memory. What this activity in the brain suggests, in response to the poetic language, is that poetry triggers what are called “reappraisal mechanisms.” These cause the reader to reflect on his or her own personal experiences and think of them in a new way, in light of what they are reading. The leaders of this research, including scientists, psychologists and English academics, plan further brain imaging study using the work of additional poets. Hope is that there will be real evidence of a therapeutic benefit to poetry that could be applied in future treatment. Philip Davis, Professor of English at Liverpool University and one of the university’s academics who has worked on the study, says of the study’s implications: “This is an argument for serious language in serious literature for serious human situations, instead of self-help books or the easy reads that merely reinforce predictable opinions and conventional self-images.” Clearly many different methods of treatment and therapy are needed across the board for the large spectrum of individuals who require it, but this research sheds light on poetry’s potential role in the future.

.
Poet and neuroscientist Sean Haldane (more officially a clinical neuropsychologist for the NHS) has been practicing in the fields of psychology and neuropsychology for many decades. However, he has been a poet for even longer, and amidst an interesting time for official poetry posts in the UK, he was interviewed for The Guardian’s Observer column . Therein he discussed the power of poetry to change an individual.

.
Haldane works primarily now assessing diseases of memory and dementia, but was trained in Reichian psychoanalytic therapy and has written a psychological crisis handbook called Emotional First Aid. In spite of his many years of professional practice, he seems to know that poetry has a strength that does even deeper: “In fact, I now think poetry has more capacity to change people than psychotherapy. If you read a poem and it gets to you, it can shift your perspective in quite a big way, and writing a poem, even more so.”

.
A further point of interest that Haldane mentions in this interview regarding the neuroscience of poetry is that a poem may activate the same portions of the brain that react when a child experiences separation from its mother, “A deep sense of separation and longing.” Perhaps there might even be some poems that activate a sense of recognition, or of reunion, of closure. Hopefully future studies will continue to examine the ways that our brains respond to poetry, and maybe even what occurs in the writing of a poem.

.
While Haldane wouldn’t recommend poetry at a therapeutic practice (“Never.”), nor would many folk (both participants as well as practitioner) suggest that poetry is any sort of replacement for therapy, there is something to its power. I am just beginning to dig into the many ways that poetry finds its way to the heart behind the mind, or through. But both writers and readers of poetry have always known the impact of a powerful poem to change their lives.

.
For some, the act of writing poetry has been a significant part of therapy, and possibly the most successful component. A reporter for the BBC’s  coverage in Iraq, journalist Patrick Howse found poetry a primary part of his pathway to healing through episodes of acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which he developed while in the war zones of Iraq. He was recently featured on PoetryZoo.com discussing how the act of writing his poems, by articulating his experiences and giving them representation, allowed him to process the trauma that he was constantly reliving.

.
For Patrick Howse, the process of writing poetry was pivotal to him making sense of what happened to him, the events and images that lead to his constant state of sleeplessness and fear. By combining images of his own making with the feelings experienced in the traumatic events, and by aligning these images to the images from reality that he took in, he was able to come to terms with something that penetrated his world so vitally. Because of the intimacy that poetry can offer us with ourselves, this pathway to understanding can be incredibly healing.

.
Howse refers to a quote by UK poet Cecil Day-Lewis which is personally significant to him: “We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” He says he wrote his poems for himself, in order to understand, first and foremost.

.
I personally object to Day-Lewis when it comes to the notion that we do not write in order to be understood, but only to understand. The creative act is a combination of both. In fact, a great deal of what comes with the human need for connection is that very thing: to be understood. The pathway to healing for many necessitates increased connection to find wholeness.

.
Sherwin Nuland, American surgeon, author, and professor of bioethics at Yale, has written a number of books examining the mysteries of the human body and the processes endured at death, among many other celebrated texts. In How We Die, Nuland shares personal stories of his life, including that of his grandmother. He received many letters from readers thanking him for this inclusion, as they saw someone of their own in her description. From this experience, he found that “The more personal you are and the more intimate you are willing to be about the details of your own life, the more universal you are.” And while Nuland is not a poet, what he says rings true for what makes poetry so powerful: personal experience.

.
In an interview with the renowned Krista Tippett, published in the lovely collection of her interviews titled Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit, Sherwin Nuland speaks candidly about what he has found to be pivotal to every human soul. He says that once a person can recognize that the experience of pain, and the human response to pain, is universal, there’s a shift. A recognition. Understanding. And with this, we change how we treat each other, and move toward healing. As Nuland puts it, “You know what everybody needs? You want to put it into a single word? Everybody needs to be understood.”

.
Indeed. And couldn’t poetry bring us closer to recognizing each other?

.
To be understood is to be recognized. To be recognized, by yourself and by others, pulls you from a one-dimensional, reduced existence to a three-dimensional creature bestowed with possibility. And how important it is to find pathways to this wholeness. In both the acts of reading and writing of poetry, there is certainly much to be gained by the participant.

.
One cannot say that all poetry can produce a certain effect, or accomplish a specific thing or set of things. Some poetry is certainly more successful than others at creating that moment that I call “the punch in the gut,” the moment of visceral recognition that, for me, so often precipitates the instant of being changed. But a truly good poem at the right time can certainly be a powerful catalyst for transformation.

.
Jane Hirshfield, one of my favorite poets writing today, is author to a magnificent book of essays titled Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry, which deftly investigates the art and craft of poetry and the depths of our interaction with it. In the first essay, “Poetry and the Mind of Concentration,” Hirshfield strikes at the heart of some of poetry’s power:

.
“Every good poem begins in language awake to its own connections…It begins, that is, in the body and mind of concentration.” She clarifies: “By concentration, I mean a particular state of awareness: penetrating, unified, and focused, yet also permeable and open.”

.
The concentration that poetry requires is a wakefulness of mind and spirit, an alert consciousness, an attentiveness to the connection to everything in the self and outside the self. A willingness to receive, a lack of rigidity. This sort of duality is part of the secret of poetry, these seemingly opposing states of being intently focused, precise, but also an openness. And isn’t this mindset the perfect place to allow oneself to be changed?

.
Hirchfield also says this of poetic concentration: “In the whole-heartedness of concentration, the world and self begin to cohere. With that state comes an enlarging: of what may be known, what may be felt, what may be done.” Possibility and agency are a natural part of the mind of concentration.

.
Our participation in poetry offers the promising possibility of finding a place where we cohere the parts of ourselves and simultaneously, a place of enlarging of our own possibilities. But maybe what makes poetry so powerful is that the thread of it comes in through the mind with language, words that make meaning out of our perceptions, but the whispers to us gently to engage us in a way that can be deeply unexplainable. Like knowing. Like being. Poetry, good poetry, can change us. Sometimes right when and where we need to be changed.

.

.

You can follow Miranda on Twitter here:

https://twitter.com/petalsandflames

The Recovery Project Collaboration: ‘Creatives Making a Difference’

4 Jun

THE RECOVERY PROJECT

More than several months ago I had an idea about creating a mini-collaboration on the theme of the mental health term  ‘Recovery’. This is not only particularly relevant to me because I have bi-polar and am in a state of recovery myself, but also because ‘recovery’ is important for lots of people (including creatives) who are affected my mental health issues. It’s a universally important theme and experience.

With this in mind I asked the poets Carol Robson, John Mansell and Rebecca Audra Smith (all accessed via Twitter)  if they would like to collaborate on this and write a poem for the project, each taking up a particular facet of the path to recovery. Carol took up the theme of DESPAIR, John, MUDDLING THROUGH and Rebecca ‘RECOVERY’. I asked 3 artists who were then paired with the poets: Ray Bentley, Photographer Jeremy Moseley and Hugo Smith (all accessed via Twitter) to produce artwork inspired by the three poems. I also asked audio visual artist Shaun Blezard to write an accompanying soundpiece for the three sections. So this whole project is completely fuelled by new literary pieces, artwork/photography and sounds. The piece can viewed in sections or be taken as a whole. I have also produced a mini-film  which includes audio versions of the poems, and will give you an idea of the piece as a whole and how it could be turned into an installation of sorts (watch this space…).  It is worth mentioning that everyone involved in this project either has direct experience of the issues or an explicit interest.

The Recovery Project is an important bench-mark for ArtiPeeps for it really represents the first contribution to a new mental health initiative we are going to be instigating more explicitly in October: ‘Supporting Mental Health’.  This ongoing  initiative will produce collaborative material which will form an online artistic and  therapeutic resource for people in need. This will be part of other larger shifts in ArtiPeeps’ intent. There will be more news of this and its implications as time unfolds. But it’s all good.

_________________________________

THE RECOVERY PROJECT

“Recovery is being able to live a meaningful and satisfying life, as defined by each person, in the presence or absence of symptoms. It is about having control over and input into your own life. Each individual’s recovery, like his or her experience of the mental health problems or illness, is a unique and deeply personal process.”Scottish Recovery Network 2009

Recovery is not about ‘getting rid of problems’. It is about seeing people beyond their problems – their abilities, possibilities, interests, and dreams and recovering the social roles and relationships that give life value and meaning”Julie Repper and Rachel Perkins, 2002

>>>>

THE RECOVERY SOUNDCSAPE

by Shaun Blezard

Section 1

DESPAIR:

Restraint Chair No.1 (crop)

Restraint Chair No.1 by Ray Bentley

>>>

Another Psychosis

by Carol Robson

 

Here in a place, which I should be
I need to be here and in all places
Yet! an urge to run rages through me
fear of physical contact, my brain now in overload
here, feeling alone in a place full of people.

Like a frightened gazelle
taunted by its hunter
I search for the exit to safety
an egress to my solitary state
my place of safety in my Prozac stained mind.

Neural networks firing their manic impulses
ignoring my vain attempt of rational logic
craving for their mania overload
knowing again, they will fight a long battle
against the Lithium army, that will bring them down.

Highs and lows come and go
trying to live your normal life
my exterior facade is all you see
as it hides a mind and soul in turmoil
just trying to get through to the next hour.

A life in a day to day existence
that craves for whatever is normal
a time bomb mind with a fragile trigger
controlled by whatever the drug of choice is.

Clinging to a life of hopes and dreams
that is out of this drug controlled despair
I will one day rise again like the Phoenix
out of the ashes, of Another Psychosis.

© Carol Robson 2011

 

Section 2:

MUDDLING THROUGH

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photography by Jeremy Moseley

>>___

______________

>>>

Solitary Lights in a Forsaken Landscape

by John Mansell

 

Day opens like a strange flower.
Had it really closed?

Eyes adrift with bitter tears.
I see you viewing me with unease,
…………toothbrush in hand;
Do not call me stranger.
Do not make me mute
……….by filling my mouth with dread.
Lined linear colour,
the implements of survival
…………in their little compartments
…………………….with designated times…..
Consumption of the divine;
a woman purled in momentary
silence forages the impression
that once she knew me.
And then, like a shoot that appeared too soon
……….is gone…..
Each moment a disgrace to pleasure:
………..the floods of worry
…………………..have strewn me along
…………………..various embankments…..
And when certain suns shine,
I know it is a worry
as unnecessary as
…………the solitude I veil myself with…..
Walk with me these grim corridors.
Though I was able yesterday, today I have fears
that arrest me.
I see faces and eyes rimmed with farewells.
I hear names spoken,
and children laughing…..
If I listen intently enough, I am sure
one of those children is me…..
I am sure there were good days once…..

Shift the falling grains
so they rumple not to the
………..gathering years
but the trench of a memory
…………you think may have held yesterday;
as if your yesterday never existed.
The moisture of dreams drowns
the fallen edifice of your time…..
You are, but never was
because you fear
what you were for it would exhibit
………what you
………………..would be…..
you keeper of empty paintings.
Sleep in a place
where time is a flick of a page;
the dying groans of lost hope,
the flippant drapery
………..of a night
that will come despite
…………your efforts, thief of my life
…………despoiler of all I held beautiful…..

Day closes like a strange flower.
Had it really opened?

 Section 3:

RECOVERY

trying for the brighter by Hugo Smith

‘Trying For the Brighter’ by Hugo Smith

>>>>

Recovery

by Rebecca Audra Smith

 

Hunting for the key
that can slot into my ear
unlock who I am, with
its slow turn and click.
 
I can hear it in my head,
doors open to staircases lead
to cellars where weeds chatter
about sunshine, light and seed.
 
Fumbled fingers in the bed
searching for a lighter
to set fire to the sun,
board a chariot, ride far.
 
I could have burnt my home
to ash, to dust- my family
rooting for my bones;
I’m trying for the brighter.
 
Planting keyholes inside tulips,
my hands are full of keys
each day a little lighter,
a stronger step for me.

The Recovery Film:

>>>

  >>>>

Inspiration Point: Killer Empathy

26 Aug

Something to listen to if you’ve got a moment.  Yes, the story about ‘the killer’ is interesting but what is more moving, human and interesting is the effect following this story had on the researcher and how it affected him. Truly powerful…brought a tear to my eye!

'Sometimes being a good scientist requires putting aside your emotions. But what happens when objectivity 
 isn't enough to make sense of a seemingly senseless act of violence? In this short, Jad and Robert talk to an entomologist about the risks, and the rewards, of trying to see the world through someone else's eyes. '

http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2012/feb/06/killer-empathy/

Sent from the Radiolab app for iPhone
http://radiolab.org/mobile
%d bloggers like this: