I think I’ve been doing it all wrong.
I’m reading ‘Madness Explained’ by Richard Bentall and it is fascinating. It worries me that I’ll never be able to remember all the wonderful bits! People deal with depression in one of two ways. They either ruminate and dwell, or they distract themselves. Distraction tends to be the more sensible dragging-yourself-out-of-the-hole choice. I got it wrong, the thinking behind my art and art therapy was wrong. Art in itself isn’t a distraction. It can make us dwell on things that we should just let go. I think too much. I feel that I am driving myself mad sometimes. Something needs to change.
I have a fairly solid idea of what my next exciting artistic endeavour shall be about. Oh yes, I have planned and plotted. I tended to just throw myself in at the deep end when at uni, got on with making work and waited to see what would happen or where it would go. I think I need to find a healthy balance of working intuitively whilst also having a bit of a thought-out plan!
It shall be the contents of my skull, and what it means to be ‘sane’ or ‘insane’. It shall be a combination of all of my words from my mind, and all of the shiney new information I am learning due to my current psychology and mental health obsession.
Please tell me this- does everyone worry that they are going mad sometimes?
I feel like this may be a universal experience. And this pondering may be the main focus of the piece of work. I’m not sure yet. I think things will become clearer as I start work on it. There shall be embroidered words, because I love embroidered words, and crochet, and wool. I’m currently experimenting with crocheting into thin, fragile stretched out tops (tops is the wool that you use for felt-making). So far it’s been exciting, very cobwebby and delicate. I have a general aesthetic in my head, but unfortunately I just don’t know how to achieve it yet! The words shall be from recent sketchbooks and diaries. Words which keep recurring, or which have stuck with me for whatever reason. Although they shall be ambiguous and taken out of context and displayed alongside each other so that no sense-making is obviously apparant. They’ll probably only make sense to myself and people very close to me. As long as I feel that I am being open and honest with myself in my work, no one else needs to know what it’s about. I hope that the viewer will be able to relate to the sentiments in their own personal way.
I fear I am rambling on, I should really go eat something! Hope this has made some sense.
Oh, and I’m going to see the Damien Hirst retrospective tomorrow! He confuses me. I don’t know if I like him, and this annoys me! I have no opinion, I am indifferent. Hopefully tomorrow will sort this conundrum out, one way or the other.
How can anyone feel that they can express themselves adequately without the use of words? I don’t think that I could. I sort of feel that maybe once you start using them in your art, it’s very hard to stop! But the visual is still just as important as the meaning. Anyway.
One more shift at the coffee shop, and then I will have my weekends back, and much more time for making new work. Which is just as well, as I have got myself into a month long summer exhibition at a little gallery in Cardiff. I have a wall, and I can do what I want with it. I have grand plans, oh yes. A big installation. None of these silly little dull things in frames. Something grand. Lots of words, lots of honesty, on paper and fabric, tatty, lacey crochet. Threads and nails and sewing and biros and doodles, and the contents of my skull on a wall. Black, white and cream. Hopefully beautiful and fragile and intriguing and terrifying. Let’s all question the sanity of the artist! I have an idea, and an image in my head, just gotta make it happen…. Trying to get my thoughts in some sort of coherent order at the moment. Could take a little while.
But, it led me onto an interesting train of thought. If we can see something with our eyes, it is solid, it is real, it exists. If we can see something it is true. Visual = truth. One reason of self-harm is that it makes abstract thoughts and emotions real. It validates them. One see’s proof of what one is feeling, and this is satisfying, and comforting. I am intrigued by the parallels that seem to exist between the creation of art and self-harm. Bear with me. So with regards to making art (and more specifically, from my point of view, making art which involves text), if we make our thoughts into something solid, turn them into part of a tactile object that we can see with our own eyes, this can be comforting and satisfying. Thoughts in our minds could be fleeting or confused and jumbled, but once they are turned into something solid, outside of our skull, they become something else entirely. We can see them and they are part of our real, material world, they exist and they are valid. They are pinned down, trapped, and so are easier to contemplate and deal with and make sense of. They become something we can see, and so they definitely exist. And so is it this process, of taking something abstract, from the inside of our skulls and making it solid and part of our real world, is it this act which is central and very important to the creation of art?
And breath. Oh dear. Words. I fear that I may not be expressing myself very adequately. I’ll get there.And I guess what I’ve said can be thought of in relation to art psychotherapy.
And I shall leave you with a wonderful quote;
“I am a freak user of words, not a poet.”
So, I have applied for an MA in Art Psychotherapy. At Newport Uni, part-time over three years. The more I’ve researched it, the more I am sure that this is what I want to be doing. It feels right, it feels the right choice for me. A natural progression. It has me thoroughly fascinated. But of course I can, and SHALL, be an artist at the same time. I want to help people, I want to make a small difference to someone’s life. And I’m ok at that whole art-thing, and the contents of people’s skulls is… at the same time, intriguing and terrifying. But in a sort of good way. I know that I use art in a cathartic, therapeutic manner, and I want to help others realise the good that this can do.
And now for some embroidery… With some ribbon. Which is now all used up, so I won’t keep coming across it in my sewing-box, making me feel slightly sick. Catharsis, innit.