Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Undercover Art Therapists

The Putney river with leaves, water sparkles and rowers

On Sunday I had a lovely morning walking in the sun by the Putney river (scanning for leaves to press, naturally) to have coffee with my supervisor from my past placement.  It’s great to see her and hear about art therapy related things. She has a way of bouncing ideas back so that they seem clearer and somehow more exciting. So now I am wondering if there could be more arts therapists out there or creative folk doing other things whilst looking for work, or creative arts therapists who have been re-employed as other kinds of (non art) therapists.
tea and chat
It is possible to use creative ways to engage with other kinds of roles so that we keep our professional identity alive. It is early days in my thinking about this but, so far, alongside my official job at the moment as a ‘secretary’ in a mental health setting I have recreated my desk as my ‘studio’, and looked at the office space as a whole from an artistic perspective. I have found its potential for installation and am thinking of how I can work with this to bring a subtle, non-intrusive art therapeutic exhibition to the space.

A computer faced robot
 In case you were wondering, although it might seem like I spend most of the day looking out of the window and pressing leaves, I am still doing my regular work. Having these projects on the go nearby helps me work better as I feel less like a computer faced robot, and more alive and happy.

I wondered what others do with their art/music/dance movement/drama therapist identities whilst doing ‘other’ things? As my supervisor said, there may well be a fair few out there. Let me know!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

On the Habitat of the Creative Creature

I  came across this piece from a long time ago. The irony is that this kind of creativity was skeeved out of me living in the UK, recovering from  life traumas and studying Art Therapy. I have found creativity can be like a creature that you have to get to know. You have to get to know it and understand its habits, habitats and diet. Mine was like a freaked out deer that ran to the hills and kept going from all the difficulties, noisy traffic and greyness. I didn't even know it was there until it was gone. Now I am coaxing it back with crumbs of things that inspire me, the simplicities of leaves, music, nice curtains, colours in the house, tea, not going out and, lots of crafts. Everyone's creative creature likes a different habitat, the trick is getting to know what that is.

Anael He went to Anael and asked her of all that tumbled inside his heart. And she said,

“Your troubles are like the stones tumbling in the currents of the sea. You have strong fire within you and it will not let anything of lesser heat be still. This will go on, but time and the unfolding of the years will calm your fire and the stones won’t strike so heavily on your heart.

    And one day, remember this, one day the tumbling and turning will smooth their corners. They will become jewels, they will shine and reveal what been hidden from you. But this is another time for you, we have no need to speak of it yet.  Just for now know this: your fire is strong. Listen to it, see how it moves you, what colours does it have and what is its song? Now is your time to learn this. Go well.”

     Then she moved and turned her face to the sea while her eyes saw beyond the horizon. She could hear the dreams of the whales and knew to the core of things and out again.

     He sat a while and looked to the ocean also.  He saw there green currents and the dashing of foam on stone. He saw the struggle of the birds against the wind and could not be still. The fire in him moved and he had to follow.


© Louise Amelia Phelps 2002

Saturday, 24 November 2012

On not Speed Reading Anymore AND Guerilla Art Studio's

 Not studying anymore means I am learning 'how not to speed read everything'. We actually had a class on 'How to read a book in 10 minutes' in our first week of Art Therapy training and I was inwardly shocked. Surely this isn't what books are for? Surely this isn't what learning is? Turned out it was.

So, now, I am reading again. And I was reading a book by Shaun McNiff, his 'Art Heals' one. He has a chapter on how he transformed his feelings about the boredom and monotony of lengthly academic meetings by skethching, drawing and creating from the inspiration of the tensions and dynamics in the meetings.  In the end he looked forward to  them.

Today I realised this is a little what my Guerilla Art Studio activities have been all about: changing my perceptions of where art can live so that I can engage more happily with situations that are a bit boring.  Or in university speak: questioning how an art therapist would engage with the challenges of everyday life, or in this case, how to survive an office job.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Tree Watching

So, these pictures are part of my tree and sky watching project.
It is also a kind of winter survival exercise too. With the nights 
arriving so early I get to watch this amazing dusk light show happen.
This is the view from my office window. I am very lucky indeed and
it is part of the reason why I stay there. So while everyone
 is moaning about the dark evenings, I am now loving them. I took
all these pictures on my phone and haven't adjusted the colours in
any way at all.  Now I make it part of my daily tasks to draw every ones
 attention to the beautiful sunsets and found that others secretly love
this tree as well. I have plans for these images. I want to use them in
 a kind of subtle time based installation idea, therefore turning my office
not only into a studio, but also a gallery. Only, they don't know that yet. 

Autumn Beauty

I have been quite obsessed with autumn leaves lately. Post studying life has meant I am now more open to life’s little beauties, and can appreciate these simple things, instead of being more concerned about reading enough and referencing properly, being places on time and sounding intelligent.

I have been gathering leaves, when I feel brave enough, and press them at home under books. My plan is to eventually use them in drawings and paintings which I am itching to do soon. Imagine the clear colours of auburn, orange and yellow inks on chunky paper with feathered edges….

The best ones have been from an acer tree outside the local kebab shop, (the ones in the picture). I was very upset to come past it on my way back from work to find people ‘tidying’ and polling the tree. I am also now very unimpressed by leaf blowers.

I have combined this with my studio-desk project at work, and right now I can say I am secretly pressing leaves underneath the huge office product catalogues next to me. Work is so much more easier now I know I have such a beautiful project nearby. And again, no one has noticed.

This is my leaf press at my studio-office work,
the rainbow pages of the catalogues look nice
and the sheets of kitchen roll from the paper
dispenser in the kitchen are perfect..  

These are my favorite pictures. I love the layers of the leaves coming through.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

On surviving as a round peg in a square hole.

Whilst looking for art therapy job possibilities I currently find myself working more than I would like in an office, sat in front of a computer all day - in the pose, I realise, of a scuttling forest creature – see diagram 1, substitute office for forest background and you see what I mean.

It is ‘sensible’ job which I am sure any creative soul would agree is hard work. Blending in, being sensible, tucking in the colourful ribbons, beads and buttons that gravitate towards creative folk. After a couple of months, I felt so grey and square that one day I decided I wouldn’t make such an effort.

And it didn’t turn out so bad. I reminded myself that creativity, also known as ‘Art’ is essential for my health – it is another kind of food that I have to have on a daily basis and, because of that, I must bring it to work with me. So, I secretly decided that I would think of my work space not only as my desk, but also – my studio-at-the-moment. I brought in my favourite pictures, photo’s cards, designs and stuck them all about my workspace.

 …and no body seemed to notice. I have repeatedly found that non ‘arty’ visual orientated people so much more less observant about environments and changes to their surroundings. It makes me wonder what they see and what that world is like, as it seems so much less full of colours of light reflected on walls, shapes of cloud, beautiful leaves on the pavement, and chocolates arriving in the office.  The good thing is I feel  more creatively alive so who knows what else will arrive to be unnoticed...

P.S the red bird stamp is from , I love it so much. This week it has been my Bird of Inspiration.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Right. So, it's been a while. And the reason for that being I studied Art Psychotherapy for 3 years. Now qualified and rediscovering the world again. I shall be back soonish with more  thoughts and wonderings on the world to share with anyone who would listen, and some new art too.


"Our hands must endeavour to know the earth
 and reach for the highest will of heaven
 It is time to shed the sadness,
 It is time to share the secret
 For the Old ways live in the New"