Art and Ritual, Trauma and Healing: 25th May 2012

naoisetoothpaste-Helen Sargeant

Naoise painting with toothpaste

There are many known examples of artists, writers and creative practitioners who have utilised their own lives as a primary source for making work. Who have transformed “traumatic” experiences  through their imaginations, craft, processes and ideas to create work that brings personal experiences into the public sphere, such as the work of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Virginia Wolf, Ana Mandieta, Helen Chadwick, Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin, Bobby Baker, Jo Spence, Hannah Wilke, Marina Abramovic, Mona Hatoum,  Frida Khalo, Joseph Beuys, Alan Kapprow. This work brings forth knowledge, and connects with others who may share the “artists” experiences.

Art work can speak many truths, it can be complex, intelligent, beautiful, touching and emotional, it can help us to reach new understanding in ourselves and what it is to be human. This work can help both practitioner and audience alike, and perhaps even bring about healing of life’s traumas.

Motherhood can provide situation’s in which to bring together people from diverse social and cultural background’s in their shared experiences of parenting. The physical and emotional demands of Motherhood can present opportunities for looking at the world anew and for placing creativity at the centre.

The daily rituals of motherhood demand fully of both body and mind, gestures of love,  nurture and sustaining another life such as, washing, dressing, feeding, holding, comforting, playing, rocking or reading a child to sleep. These rituals fill our everyday lives with joy, frustration, banality, anger, violence, love, exhaustion and exhilaration. Could these gestures and extremities of feeling become a catalyst for creativity ? Could the way that we perceive our mothering, the way that we were mothered, or the way that we wish to mother become a platform for making ?

In this meeting we aim to discuss some of the above ideas in our own practice and that of others. Through sharing examples of our own creative practice be it poetry, art, story telling, sculpture, performance, photography, baking or making that have been made in response to or as a result of our experiences of mothering, and in particular in relationship to art and ritual, trauma and healing.

Meeting Outcomes

General discussion around the kitchen table about how mewe has been beneficial in providing a space for women to talk and share their experiences of motherhood in order to support each other and find meaningful and creative ways of working through their lives with children. Mewe has also helped to raise the self esteem of members through their collective appreciation and shared learning of each others creative practice.

General discussion also about the relationship between art and therapy. Is there a way of defining each, it was felt that their was a thin line between the two and maybe what separated them was a consideration of who the work is made for, is there an audience for the work or is it made for the self ? We talked about an inner voice and an inner audience.

The group read out poems that they had written about their bodies and experiences of being mothers. It is wonderful to hear the emotional strength of the poetry that is being created and shared. Members of the group have very young children and find brief moments when children are sleeping or in the middle of the night when they should be sleeping to write their beautiful words.

The group discussed PND and reflected upon a problem that they feel exists in society where we focus on the recovery of he body after birth and not mental wellbeing. Members of the group felt that  mewe meetings had helped improve their mental wellbeing.

A member of the group showed a series of prints that  drew upon memories of being mothered, and reflected upon the emotional journey that a mother takes when her children leave home.

A member of the group presented a short talk about the use of ritual in theatrical performance. She showed her notes from performances that she had produced, and also showed us her making practice of stained glass and how this interfaced with ideas of performance and ritual.

We looked at  taro cards and how  their readings could help provide a positive theraputic path though experiences of motherhood. We looked at the cards, their meanings and the archetypes and motifs contained within them.

A member of the group  read poems by Sarah Corbett and the beginning of a short story by Margaret Atwood called Giving Birth. She reflected upon her own practice showing a current series of drawings and she talked about how she explores trauma within her arts practice and finds healing through these creative processes.








2 thoughts on “Art and Ritual, Trauma and Healing: 25th May 2012

  1. as an artist, and in training as an art psycotherapist, i am very interested in the relationship between creativity and Trauma,

  2. What a great focus for your next meet up. I won’t be able to make it 🙁 . Instead I will be watching out on the website to see what was provoked. Lovely idea.

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