“Art and Life and the theraputic nature of art itself”: 11th January 2013

The title and inspiration for this meeting derives from the exhibition “The return of the repressed: Louise Bourgeois” that I saw earlier this year which raised “fundamental questions about the relationship between art and life and the theraputic nature of art itself.”The exhibition showed her sculptural and drawing practice alongside recently discovered psychoanalytical writings.

Louise Bourgeois

A positive outcome of mewe meetings is that members have been able to work with the often difficult and extreme emotions of mothering to create art works. These extremities of emotions are being used as the raw materials with which to create art and communicate to others. The works seek to challenge the idealisation of motherhood and its portrayal in the wider society and to reveal an honest “lived experience” of mothering. Through the making of these works members have begun to talk about a process of “healing”. A healing attributed to their own sense of self, identity and an ability to work better as mothers.

This meeting therefore seeks to look at examples of art works that have come into being through an understanding and knowledge of theraputic practices. As a result of looking into this subject area it, I feel that it is appropriate here to draw out examples of artists who have knowingly suffered from mental health problems, specifically depression. Particularly strong links have been found between people who suffer from mood disorders and creativity. Within the context of the maternal looking at post natal depression and creativity would seem key .I therefore begin with Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath who both wrote extensively about motherhood and who both suffered from post natal depression.

This meeting therefore will seek to explore and answer the following questions:

  • How do arts practice and theraputic practice inform each other ?
  • What “arts practice” uses catharsis in its process of making ?
  • How are emotions and their “effect” and “affect” communicated to an audience by the artist.
  • What artists, poets and performers have been through a period of therapy during their life and if so how has this informed their practice ?

Text by Helen Sargeant November 2012

Anne Sexton:

Sylvia Plath:

Yayoi Kusama utilises personal trauma as a productive force within her work.

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