At art school a tutor commented that my brushes looked like they had been at war. A comment that stuck with me, but I did not really understand.
Twenty years later whilst painting I was listening to a Radio 4 programme on post traumatic stress disorder, previously known as shell shock and realised that I had grown up with a father with shell shock. A man blown up in Cyprus working for Special Forces. It came as a shock to me. A revelation – of course why had I not seen it before!? It was so totally obvious. The programme went on to talk about secondary PTSD, that growing up with someone suffering these conditions the child could/would inherit a version of the condition.
Another ten years have passed, I have done nothing with this knowledge apart from to consider it and be utterly grateful that I discovered Alexander Technique at the age of 24 beginning the process of letting go of holding within my system and understanding the incredible power of transformation that our thinking and awareness holds for us. The past thirty years without Alexander Technique seems totally unimaginable!
My dad died a year past, and I have been painting solidly as a way of coping with my grief and the shock and the freezing of my surface emotions that came with his revelation of cancer and painful passing. The only way I have been able to let go is to paint, unable to cry and with no-one about to hold me or comfort me, I channelled my whole self into art, painting and writing. (Having been a person who cries at Lassie movies my entire life this inability to cry really surprised me.)
It came to me the other day whilst painting that what I have been doing since a little girl, when I would hide in my bedroom and paint, is channelling war – channelling the aftermath, turning destruction into creativity, finding a way to stay me and hold my course, be in my life line, despite the reverberations, the echo waves, the explosions, the untransformed shock that these soldiers hold within, past war scenes and battle fields that would leak into a suburban household.
I stopped painting last week, suddenly utterly exhausted. I come out of this phase with the thought that my paintbrushes are my weapons of mass creation and that artists are totally necessary for our beautiful planet right now.
Please create – find ways of expressing your self, your ideas and inspirations, making connections – channeling what comes through you, listening deeply. Our job as artists I believe is to allow beauty, inspiration, truth, light, hope, healing, power, passion, the good stuff to shine through us.
So my war cry is – art warriors of the world rise up!
I truly believe your unique contribution is needed right now!
Enough of this nonsense about artists being mad or self indulgent or your art not being good enough. Art is healing on many many levels and this planet could do with some of that, the more the better methinks …
(written with love and tears)