Tag Archives: Well-being

Big Black Drop Sheet 

13 Apr


Over the past month and a half depression has come over me like a big black drop sheet. Big black drop sheet is the way I described my depressions when I was first diagnosed with bipolar in 2004. This particular depression has surprised me, almost come out of nowhere but not: having to stop my meaningful plans, change tack, lie in bed for days, have insomnia, tolerate crying unexpectedly and uncontrollably. Depression has hit me again, and I thought I was an old hand at picking up the signs.

This time sadness, shame and self-hatred have been the most overwhelming emotions surrounding me. For someone so clearly capable to keep banging up against a crashing amount of self loathing has been hard to take. I cry like a little girl, so I’m told, and that is probably true. For the things that I am presently mourning for today are the very same things child-Nicky was attempting to deal with years ago. I know that this is not unusual, maybe something we are all faced with at some point.

I have bipolar II which means I have hypomanias and not manias (hypomanias are energy-based and not psychotic). You also have more depressions than ups.  With bipolar II if you track back there is usually a history of the depressions getting increasingly more severe with fewer and fewer hypomanias in between. Bipolar II is also not regular. There are no regular cycles. It can spring up on you at anytime. You can’t predict it, so it is therefore quite hard to manage.

Since my diagnosis, and the therapy that followed, I’ve gone about my life trying to emphasise the well parts of it, which can make you, and others, almost forget that you have an ongoing illness that sits behind your well periods. I’ve come to realise that this attitude isn’t necessarily healthy for me although it might seem like it should be. My capability and energy can unhelpfully mask what illness I have. Over the last 20 + years I have been regularly depressed after anything I have achieved: jobs, creative projects-you name it. Stress triggers my bipolar. It’s hard for me to consistently hold anything down for a length of time.  This is a bitter pill to swallow and face. This is further complicated by the fact my self-worth isn’t derived from what I do. It’s derived from how well I look after myself, and generally I do that pretty poorly as I tend to ‘become’ things when I do anything. All my self-care subtly vanishes as I flounder, sabotage and watch my self worth ebb away.




Out of what has happened to me lately I can see that the strategy of treating myself like I don’t have an illness, that I am a ‘well person’, doesn’t necessarily work for me despite its inherent positivity. To keep myself well and catch things early I have to have the fact I have bipolar right in front of me so I can catch things. This is important because symptoms can appear from out of nowhere, escalate and dig-in and before you know it I’m a ‘goner’. I forget that. Like in the summer last year, when all of The Nine Realms threads were coming together and I was very stressed and working 60 hour weeks. I started to change: started hitting myself and becoming very aggressive whilst still feeling full of energy and highly functioning. I became a different person for a while, which I came to understand in hindsight was me in a mixed state (where you are both depressed and energised at the same time). For about three weeks I was not myself, felt dreadful, but was fully able to work and was driven by my intention to follow through on every aspect of The Nine Realms. This state incremently and subtly crept up on me, and from that state the seeds of depression were sown.

I didn’t catch the change in my behaviour because we weren’t being vigilant enough. Maybe if we (and by we, I mean my mother and I) had been actively on the lookout for changes I might not be lying in bed right now. I’m not saying that I need to be treated with kid gloves or stopped from doing anything that might trigger me. No, I’m not saying that, but maybe a new strategy needs to be put in place. A few signs in my house need to be put up that remind me that it’s a good responsibility to manage my illness. That I have an illness, that despite being on medication, comes up and slaps me merrily on the rear. It’s not nice, it’s not pretty but it is the cold stone truth.

This depression is the first time I haven’t been comatose, which you would think would be a turn up for the books, but it doesn’t feel like that. The extensive period of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy  I had for 7 years has taught me that there is distance between myself and my thoughts. I know I am not my thoughts, and I also know how to challenge my thoughts. However, despite having this knowledge, because of my miswiring, it doesn’t stop me from feeling the negative emotions attached to them which then spirals me downwards. So I still get powerfully locked into the negative loops in my schemas (established, entrenched patterns of thinking). In this last week I have just started to use again the CBT techniques I was taught. I think the fact, that this time, I haven’t become my thoughts is what has saved me from becoming comatose. It’s lessened my feelings of helplessness. I have mind tools to deploy. My therapist (who was a specialist in persistent severe depression) taught me well.

This is the moment (you would think) I would be cracking open the champagne (if I drank), pulling the party poppers and celebrating the fact I have been given these tools, but I have found this half-processing state to be far worse than the familiar comatose depression state. In the comatose state you’re out of it at least, you’re not feeling anything other than awful; or you’re so out of it it doesn’t matter. In what I’m feeling now- this half-state- you feel so consciously cornered by your head and your schemas. You feel everything, and you are constantly batting off negative thought processes and delving into, and staying with, emotions. It’s tiring, all-consuming and scary (even if the process has the hidden positive of reminding you you can still feel). This strangely makes the thought of the comatose state more attractive. Tackling my negative thinking constantly is wearisome. Writing things down, charting why I feel what I’m feeling. It’s tiring, even though I do know in my heart of hearts it’s probably a healthy responsibility but……nevertheless. It just doesn’t feel like it. If I take on the new ‘I have bipolar’ strategy, I have a lifetime of charting and managing ahead of me, and sometimes (in all honesty) it feels like it would be better for it all to stop. These types of thoughts are the worst and still come back again and again.

It usually takes me a year to recover fully from a depression. Getting through this bit where my constant rumination and negative processing get in the way of me moving forward. However, I absolutely intend to put my ‘I have bipolar’ signs in the house so I don’t forget (even if it looks a bit bonkers). With a new strategy maybe I can catch my negative core beliefs and thoughts more quickly, treat myself more kindly and live a little bit more of an honest life that actually knowingly supports my vulnerability (which is something we all share). This might help prevent the big black drop sheet from dropping down so quickly in the future. It will come back but maybe the next time it might be a little bit more translucent.



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.


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.


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

‘Mixed Episode’; ‘Care in the Community’ by Louise M. Hart (Poet) FreeSpace #3

28 May



Mixed Episode

by Louise M. Hart


Through the eons of my suffering
And the perpetuity of my pain
Dissociated from the familiarity
Of shared meaning and consensual reality
The spectres of madness
Misery and mislead mentality
Fuelled my moral shame

Lost in the wilderness of unceasing mental flight
And the fight to still the rapid thoughts
That summoned my ecstatic anguish
And melancholic blue delight
Like a whore I surrendered to the tremors
Of the merciless and entrapping night

I dismantled my pedestal
Only to be captured by the arms of jailers
Paid to seal my fate
To be the accused in a never ending trial
Governed by the hegemony of The State

Whilst my body became secured
Within a hospital ward
Policed by nurses and hate
My mind
Formerly determinate and solid
Fragmented into a thousand fragile parts
Each with no knowledge
Of the others
And belying my flailing sick and tired heart

My inner voice externalised into a universal yell
That began
“Help me nurse, I don’t feel well”
And culminated in a needle
In the arse of the hell
Of my enforced unreason
And silence

Thus I was baptised for the second time
Not in water
But in the shrine of my mutilated throat
The shuttered eyeballs of the socially excluded
The flesh of my sacrificial duffel coat

Even my doting Mother could not perceive
The blood and bones
I saw beyond human flesh
The words only I could hear
That inflamed my agitation
And saturated my soul with fear
And ontological distress

I challenged all perception
And claimed that reality was a scam
A grand hallucination
In which existence was woman
And matter did not matter
For I was the only one and true
Living Mad Hatter


Care in the Community?

by Louise M. Hart


At any time I could freak
Or stay in bed for at least a week
And they would say
“I bet she hasn’t taken her tablets today”

I could shout or cry
Scream that I wanted to die
And they would say
“I bet she hasn’t taken her tablets today”

But, what will they say
When I take my tablets every day?

Release her like a rehabilitated criminal
From the padded cell of care in the community
Where she will lobotomise every opportunity
That comes her way

And refuse to take her tablets any day
*I dedicate these poems to any readers who feel alone in their suffering. YOU are not alone.

Writing is the scream that cannot be silenced.

You can find more about Louise and her poetry here:
You can get Louise’s latest book The General Paralysis of Sanity here



*’FreeSpace’ offers creatives or groups 3 slots on ArtiPeeps which can be taken up in a cluster or in a sequence over a period of months. They can be used for further showcasing, self-expression or for projects.

If you are interested in FreeSpace, don’t hesitate to get in contact via a reply box, or the form on our What’s On’ Page or via @ArtiPeeps


ArtiPeeps Update: Onwards and Upwards

28 May



Exactly a week has passed since the conclusion of our Kickstarter campaign for Transformations. We had a £4413 project goal and accrued £1392 of it, with 46 backers. A huge thank you to everyone who supported us.  This,  I feel,  is no mean feat and the Transformers and I all worked very hard, full-out, for its duration. Kickstarter campaigns are incredibly labour intensive, I have found!

The conclusion of this Kickstarter could have elicited feelings of despondency, but quite the opposite:  financial support has emerged out of the ashes of the campaign; many backers still  feeling able to support what we’re doing. We can move forward not really having lost anything. I am also about to put in an application to the arts council to fund the remaining monetary shortfall, and the Chair of ArtiPeeps and I will be trying to secure business sponsorship over the next couple of months.  

Overall, I think the campaign has positively foregrounded not only what ArtiPeeps stands for, but also what is behind the opportunities and initiatives we are attempting to provide.  It has also brought all the Transformers together much more overtly and we have communicated and worked well together as a collective. Considering this has often been across continents this is amazing.

I am also pleased that via the article in The Cambridge Evening News I may have helped other people with bi-polar by being open about mine. I’ve received a variety of emails and tweets that would indicate this, which is gratifying.  Some are creatives and will be taking part in future projects. I couldn’t run ArtiPeeps the way I do with a well-being thread without being fully transparent about my health…. 

There is a fast turn around on the Arts Council grant of 6 weeks, so my aim is to have that completed by the end of June. Therefore we will know where we are financially by August which gives us time to secure other funding if necessary by 12th September.


Loki, Norse supervillan


I am also intending to put in further applications for our Norse Sagas project next year and our ‘Supporting Mental Health’ exhibition. By procuring funds in advance of our projects this will help secure our initiatives and allow us to move forward from a position of strength. That is the the theory anyway!!  From the end of June my time will then be spent on the soft copy exhibition book, ebook and pdf and other sponsorship.  We’ll see how that goes…

Our second season of work ended last Friday, and looking back it  featured a wide variety of creatives and initiatives: from Millfield School’s Year 9 young poets, to our second hot potato collaborative short story (which is now being illustrated) to our first wood sculptor who is hopefully going to be involved in the Norse Sagas project next year. The ‘Supporting Mental Health’ Initiative has also produced some fantastic work on the themes of Loneliness and Anxiety and Release. The Found Poetry Project has also shown me the delights of creating such poems. Fabulous!

Running the Kickstarter on top of the season of work was a lot of pressure, and it has made me think about how I will run the seasons in the future. Whether I will just have rolling programmes of initiatives, instead of packed three month seasons. I’m going to discuss this with the Management Committee and go from there. With a rolling programme, opportunities could be given in a more consistent, less intense way. Any feedback on this thought would be welcomed. It would also leave room for a spontaneous project which would be no bad thing. 

I will be posting out regular updates as we move towards the Transformations exhibition dates, and will post something out in July about the opportunities centred around Norse Sagas.

Thanks so much for your interest, and for having supported us during our Kickstarter campaign. It’s much appreciated, and do get in contact if you’d like to get involved- via the contact form on the What’s On page or via @ArtiPeeps


All the very best,




In These Fast Paced Everydays by Estrella Azul (FreeSpace #2)

29 Apr



In these fast-paced everydays, also think of…

 by Estrella Azul


It is considered a virtue to love the people around us, but self love should also be considered a virtue. All the more because we ourselves are the objects of our own feelings, thoughts and attitude.

Treasuring ourselves, treating the self with care, respect, looking inside to gain self knowledge is all interdependent. The more we treasure ourselves, the more we will treasure others. So, we should love ourselves enough to do the things we love, too.

During our “left over” 8 hrs, are we going where our heart leads us? If we follow that lead, what would we be doing, who would we be with, what would we be eating, how would we be helping, creating, living, loving, learning?

After answering honestly and realistically (I’d love to travel to Paris and spend every afternoon there crisscrossing the Seine, but that isn’t possible), we should follow through with practical “gifts” to the self to express self love.

What will make the self happy? Would we be in the park, would we be walking around aimlessly in town looking at the buildings and our surroundings through a tourist’s eyes? Would we be with a dear friend, an old acquaintance catching up on each other’s lives, or simply alone trying out that new restaurant we’ve wanted to try ever since it opened two months ago, ordering Baby Spinach, Mandarin and Red Onion salad? Would we be helping out in a soup kitchen, creating written/doodled/photographed art? Would we be living truer to who we are, loving those we met ten or twenty years ago and never openly admitted to our feelings? Would we be learning new skills in a class or simply through reading anything and everything we can get our hands on?

As a closing, I’ll leave you with the following thoughts. Back in March 2013, I wrote someone a letter. After I finished and reread my thoughts, I realized I might as well have addressed it to myself.

“Dear Self,

I know how acutely the sadness of life can be felt. I’ve felt it. I feel it myself. It has the ability to numb one’s mind, to keep one from moving along. It makes one cry themselves to sleep.

But we have to get out from there. Walk out and follow our own yellow brick road leading us to where we should be: in the present. I think that is where Dorothy was heading. From a place of sadness, through the world of her perceptions, imagination and dreams. Into the present.

Where wonderful things can happen if we allow them to unfold. We have to wake up to being right where we are supposed to be.

There truly is no place like home; the home provided by leaving behind worries of the past and future!



Go on, write a love letter to yourself. Then follow your own yellow brick road, your heart’s advice, and give yourself a “gift” of self love.


Estrella Azul

Estrella Azul is a writer, passionate about reading, floral art and photography, with an artistic personality and a soulful outlook on life, who shadows well. Estrella shares with her readers some of her thoughts and daily happenings, along with her creative writing on Life’s a stage – WebBlog©.


You can find Estella’s Weekend Showcase here and her last FreeSpace here.


Estrella’s third FreeSpace will be on Monday 19th May, and tomorrow you can catch up with what’s afoot with an ArtiPeeps Update tomorrow.  As always, thank you for your interest. 


*FreeSpace offers 3 post slots on ArtiPeeps to any creative or group. They can be taken in a cluster or over a period of months for showcasing, projects (encouraged) or self expression. If you’re interested in FreeSpace do get in touch via the reply box on this post or the contact form on the What’s On page. 


Transformations Kickstarter Campaign

14 poets, 15 artists, 1 Contemporary reworking of Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Do Take A Look

Project :


Campaign Video


Making the Virtual Real: ArtiPeeps Update

17 Apr




 I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that our Kickstarter Campaign for Transformations has been approved, which will mean we can launch our Kickstarter project this coming Monday the 21st. It’s been a real journey creating the campaign, and we’ve pulled together some really fantastic rewards, all generated from within the project- ranging from self portraits to poems written especially for you from three words that you choose.

I will post out full details including the live link when we launch on Monday.

A  successful campaign will mean that the Ovid inspired collaboration that we’ve been running virtually here for the last 15 months can be made real, showcasing 31 Twitter creatives in total and launching a large-scale exhibition template that ArtiPeps can use year-on-year to provide further opportunities.  You can find more details about Transformations in the menu above (extra to the highlighted link).  Do watch out for us on Monday. It would be fabulous to have your support!

More good news in relation to the ‘Supporting Mental Health’ side of what we do (Creatives Making A Difference). We have been approached by the UK Recovery Federation who want to use a project we put together last year in a National conference on Recovery in September. Again, I couldn’t be more happy about this as it will further showcase the creatives involved (John Mansell, Jeremy Moseley, Raymond Bentley, Carol Robson, Hugo Smith and Rebecca Audra Smith) and also make our virtual intention to explore mental health issues and well-being real. Some of us will hopefully be attending the conference and we will be presenting our video piece to the attendees.

Here is The Recovery Project:


You can explore this season’s ‘Supporting Mental Health’ Collaborations below. They’ve been inspiring:

Loneliness (ft: Stephanie Brennan and Deborah Sheehy, Charlie Winters and Jeremy Moseley and John Mansell and Ieuan Edwards)

Anxiety and Release (ft. Mat JimDog and Mina Polen, Rod Kok and Heather Burns and *Lucy Quin and Jack Morris, and *Lauren Coulsen and Cliona Sheehan)

* Still to come.

Our season of work has been going brilliantly. There’s been a real range of collaborations, showcasing and residencies, as well as FreeSpaces where creatives like Mandy Gibson, have been revisiting past pieces and finishing them off just for this project, which is a real honour. The Found poetry collaboration has been a real find for me. I’ve enjoyed seeing what has been produced, so much so we actually did some of our own in the real-life ArtiPeeps group I run. The texts have  such an atmosphere attached to them. They’re curious. We’ve also had our first wood sculptor on ArtiPeeps’ Weekend Showcase, Mark Crowley which I’ve loved too.

Oh yes, and #ArtiPeepsChat has been going well on Twitter where I chat with creatives about their work. (8-pm-9pm every Wednesday, barring the last week in the month when it’s on a Thursday)

All in all there’s lots afoot for ArtiPeeps at the moment. This season of work continues until the end of May, and please do support us in anyway you can. Watch out for the Transformations Kickstarter launch on Monday.

 All good wishes, and thanks so much for your interest.



If you would like to get involved in any of our opportunities please do get in touch either via the contact form on the What’s On page or via @ArtiPeeps






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 (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.




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.”



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




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
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.



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.




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. .

Volunteer Responses to Space2Create (FreeSpace #3)

26 Nov



Volunteer Responses to S2C


I asked a few Space2Create volunteers to tell me what it meant for them to be involved with S2C, what volunteering did for them. As a voluntary led organisation we rely on volunteers but must also recognise that the volunteers are as much a part of the group as any of the participants. We want the group to allow individuals to deal with problems in their lives, to begin a positive journey. We hope that individuals will come to our groups and evolve then move on, this applies to participants and volunteers who we hope grow from the experience of being involved with the creativity we use as our tool to aid recovery and development.

J writes:

“Being involved with space2create benefits me individually in many ways. Firstly, as a qualified (though not currently practising) occupational therapist I recognise the benefits of creativity to aid well-being. In fact it is core to our profession and much research has been carried out around this issue. Secondly, the group allows me to use many of the skills I trained for. Working with individuals and groups but always recognising that everyone is unique with their own set of goals, aims, beliefs and desires. Thirdly, I love being involved in creativity on a purely personal level. It is a passion and interest of mine and I benefit from its therapeutic value greatly.

Space2create encourages creativity, individuality and self expression . It allows me and everyone involved to develop new skills, experiment, learn from others and this in turn gives me confidence to try new things and to encourage and support others to do so.”

C writes:

“The benefits to me of S2C are manifold, but primarily revolve around being an integral part of a self-supporting and enthusiastic team, and also in the satisfaction gained from delivering a valued service to participants and, in the case of flagship projects, to a wider public. The creative aspects to the role are valuable both in providing a focus for various therapeutic and communal energies which the charity helps to embody, and in providing a personal sense of achievement with the completion of each project or piece.”

K describes:

“Being involved benefits me enormously – It’s the one session of my week where I can be creative, safe, productive and satisfied.

Through creativity I can express my deeper feelings, fears, worries, joy, contentment,… In the safety of the group I can go from a giggling childlike woman to feeling, and exploring, my ‘troubles’ as an adult in the here and now!!

The creativity is a place from which to connect with all the other members of the group. We all have our different ‘issues’ but the feeling of the ability to communicate and find ourselves ‘all in the same boat’ is better than any therapy I’ve had in a long while.

It’s the best thing that’s happened to me this year and I am so grateful this opportunity has come my way. It’s not only a space to create, it’s a space simply to be.”



Ribbon and Wire by Mat JimDog

(‘the volunteers and participants of S2C entangling, supporting and merging’) 


All these people give their time to help individuals who are struggling to cope, are isolated and excluded. By their actions positive steps are forged to help these individuals move forward and begin to recover their lives from whatever distress they have been in. Volunteering is itself a tool to achieve this. There is nothing more powerful for one’s own well-being than to help another improve theirs. Creativity is our vehicle but it is the relationships, links and community that individuals come together to form that allow it to happen. Without the volunteers Space2Create would be nothing.


For more information on all those involved see:





logo1To find out more about S2C:


Twitter: @S2Cspace2create 

Facebook: Space2Create

Email: info@space2create.co.uk


Many thanks to Space2Create for sharing what you do and for sharing it with us.  Here’s to more collaborations between us!  Nicky

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