Tuesday, 30 April 2013

How art can help victim/survivors

In the first of a series of talks, Sally, a SECASA counsellor,talks about how art helps victims  find words to express their experience of trauma.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Anne's Story

I am a survivor. At least I am told that is the case, sometimes I find it very hard to believe. When I was asked if I would like to join the art group I thought about it for a long time. Not only would I stand out by being in a large powered wheel chair, but I would have to mix with people I did not know – a very daunting prospect.

The first day was hell, I was in a strange room with no easy exit, no support person and everyone else appeared to know each other from a previous course. I just wanted to run away, but there was something about the feel of the clay in my hands, which made me stay. I later discovered there were other new women and they were just as shy as me!

I have now participated ingroups, using paint, mosaicsthree of Anne’s art and of course clay. Over time, I have realized that the art group is a place of security and comfort. We are all women who have been badly hurt in some way. Here I can feel safe knowing that I can relax my guard and enjoy working on something that I have created on my own.

For me, clay is magic, when I turn on my music and pick up the clay, my hands and thoughts join together and something emerges. Often Anne Riggs will talk about an artist or a piece of work, and suggest we might like to think about it. Sometimes my hands will follow her suggestion, but at other times my mind will take over and the clay becomes a way to express something that is too painful to talk about.

Frequently I will cry as I am working through a very difficult memory, but it does not matter, because no one minds, they don’t intrude, or tell me to “pull myself together”, we have a common bond. When I look at my work some of it is frightening, some gentle and positive, while other pieces appear to be just formless lumps of clay. These ones I will smash one day. A few are so painful that I cannot bear to look at them once they are fired; these hold memories that are still too painful to deal with.

As I have worked through all the art groups I have noticed a pattern slowly emerging in my work, now I realize the amorphous figure I continuously depict is actually me. Sometimes she is in a flashback scene, but at other times I will stroke her gently and give her the love I have always craved. Now with this realization, my work is changing again; I think I am reaching deeper into myself, trying to consciously, and visually, face the violence that was done to me. Without the freedom of my art I could not do any of this.

Now I photograph my work, and if I feel like it, show my counselor. Then we can confront the dragons together.

Monday, 15 April 2013

The first weeks

In these first weeks students are learning some of the basic skills of working in mosaics. Last week, whilst making a small mosaic paver, students learned how to cut tiles safely and use the tile nippers.

Art group: Clay and Mosaics

Women who have experienced sexual abuse are invited to join

Art group: Clay and Mosaics

Friday, 12 April 2013

The joy of of creating

In this second introductory video artist Anne Riggs talks about the mosaic groups, how participants are dedicated to making art and find friendships through their shared enjoyment of creating.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Start of the new mosaic group

I am excited about starting the new mosaic group in two day’s time! We have been overwhelmed with interest from women who are keen to join the group and be part of something creative and uplifting.

I have spent the last few days meeting up with the women who will be part of the mosaic group. It is part of the preparation – to get to know them a little before the start of the classes and for each woman to get to know me a bit too so the first day won’t be too nerve-wracking. We have half an hour together and I hear about any arts and crafts things she has done, and what she is interested in learning and achieving during this time together. What are her dreams for being part of the class?