Sunday, January 13, 2013

ART; A soft place to land

This Christmas was a reminder to me that on these occasions when so many are gathered with loved ones, friends and family, there are people who are alone and experiencing hardship. For some Christmas is a painfully long day to fill with television watching or other distractions to avoid the whole affair. There is no table laden with food, gifts or people to hug. For some it is a reminder of what is missing in their lives; a partner, children, a family or friends.

For me it was the first Christmas where I wasn't part of my own little family. While incredibly lucky to be with my daughter and part of a larger celebration with beautiful siblings, nieces and nephews the realisation that I was no longer part of a discreet family unit hit me like a punch in the guts. And I am sure I was not alone.

It is at times like this, when days seem long and painful, that I find such solace in the arts and creativity. First I turned to journaling; dumping the toxic, negative and chaotic thoughts onto endless white pages. Pages that will disappear; decay into the days, months and years ahead. Pages that I may, one day, be able to look back at philosophically.
Rainbow Tree by Jo Anglesey
installed at Falls Festival,
Marion Bay

But the arts had more in store for me. I automatically shelved any music with lyrics; choosing instead to opt for classical, operatic or world music (in foreign languages). It provided the perfect soundtrack to my journey, rather than taking me on the angst ridden emotional roller coaster linked to those familiar pop and rock tunes that can send one spiraling into nostalgia, sadness and self pity.

Artist friends of mine encouraged me to draw-just draw anything. Without intention I began with mandala's and from there something wonderful happened. Images, words, colours exploded onto the piles of paper and led me to pull our canvases and continue old works, while creating new ones. It was wonderful.

Sometimes in the depths of your own dark days, serendipity can present wonderful opportunities. I was lucky enough to be part of other people's art. This began on 22nd December with a trip to Marion Bay the site of The Falls Festival in Tasmania. Invited by Ralf Haertel, co-curator of the Shadow Program, this was a wonderful opportunity to meet with Tasmanian environmental artists who have once again produced some beautiful work. What an absolutely privilege to be welcomed so warmly. I cannot express my gratitude. For more details about this visit the WriteResponse reviewing site.

On the 4th of January I traveled to Triabunna on the East Coast of Tasmania to open the Gallery of Small Works Exhibition. Held at Gallery Artspaces and organised by local entrepreneur, Sue Nettlefold, this was a great idea that saw Tasmanian artists responding to the call for small canvas paintings. A small crowd gathered on the night and I walked away with 3 small oil paintings by Launceston based painter Darren Meader. He sold all his works on the night and to be honest I could have bought more. He paints lovely textured oil paintings that are best appreciated 2-3 metres from the work. This is where one can fully appreciate the beauty, technique and sense of light and movement in these works. The paintings are on sale for $100 each with a percentage from the commission contributing towards a new arts space in Triabunna, which is itself a buzzing arts community.

One of the hundreds of girl guides
typing old-school at
the Gorge, Launceston
Back home and more drawing, painting, writing and now I added sewing to my repetoire. But it wasn't long before I was on the road again, this time to Launceston to be part of a collective of artists contributing towards the huge gathering of Girl Guides-FanTAStic 2013. I had sourced 2 old portable typewriters and the plan was for me to run quick sessions with small groups of guides-a little bit of creative writing and some interviewing. It was a great day and I was amazed at the response from the guides. Most had never seen a typewriter before and were looking for the enter and correction keys. I loved it too-sitting under the trees at the Gorge-just beautiful. And let's just say that it has sparked a flurry of activity with me trying to find an old typewriter to write on. Believe me, there is something just fantastic about typing straight onto paper and seeing it there in front of you. Not waiting for the printer and not needing electricity. So fingers crossed, I hope to find a retro typewriter very soon. 

This gathering of artists was inspiring. There was some beautiful work created and I felt incredibly humbled to be included in the activities. Big thanks to Kim Schneiders and the team for making it all happen.

While I have returned home again, the creativity doesn't stop. Today I designed and made a new shirt from some old material lying about, finished a kimono style dressing gown created from recycled op shop clothes and am working on a couple of art reviews I want to finish from the Falls experience. How lucky am I. All this is such a comforting and welcome reminder that no matter what changes in my life, my art and creativity provides a warm, soft place for me to land. It welcomes and supports me, never judges and is always accessible.

With recent bush fires that have destroyed so much, it is a reminder of the importance of art and creativity for the individual and for the broader community. It can be a fantastic tool for debriefing, story telling and healing. At times when we cannot find the words to express how we are feeling, art can accommodate, allowing us to stay quiet on the outside while expressing our grief and trauma. And importantly it doesn't discriminate-art and creativity is available to all of us, if we are willing to be open to it and accept that there is no right or wrong, no good or bad-it just IS.

Although, I can't completely dismiss the chances that I may resort to Bridget Jones's remedy of Chaka Khan and vodka, for the time being I choose creativity as my therapy and welcome each artistic opportunity that presents itself to me. I wish you all well for 2013-it is going to be an amazing year. xxx

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