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LIGHT AT YEAR’S END.

Light escapes the landscape.
The shadows spread and linger,
touching my heart
with an icy tingle.
Whether crisp and clear
or misty overcast
makes no difference
the die is cast!…

Heaviness encroaching
of hard frosty sheen
such overwhelming…
who remembers what has been?
But does sheer harshness
win the day,
or will the light return –
chasing abstract shade away?

Paul Norton. Southsea. 5th December 2017.

Written on the occasion of looking out over my December strewn morning garden in Southsea.

CAN’T DO THIS. 

Can’t do this!
Can’t do this today
Can’t find my way
staggering forth
with hollow thoughts.
Feel nothing inside
whilst others make merry on the outside.
This emptiness grows
my humour it steals.
My loneliness echoes
around crowded streets.
How long will this last?
The same as before?
Or, go as it came
when I walked out the door?

But walking in –
a wide grin is shared
I have to respond
Don’t want to seem rude!
How would I dare?!
Within my protective shell
a crack appears
That simple gesture calls me from a hell
of misgivings and fears.
Although she knew nothing of my nothingness, my empty tears.
Maybe – I can enjoy it for a while?….
and, who knows, pass on that smile?
Perhaps I can do this??!!…

(C) Paul Norton, Southsea. December 2016.

Written on the occasion of reluctantly leaving a few days hibernation (due to low down depressive episode & seasonal Cold & Cough).
Where do I go?
Hmmmm… Coffee!!
Went to Aurora Café, Albert Road, Southsea.
The smiley girl, Thizer, behind the counter made my day!!… & my poem!!

Interview with Trialogue Artist Clare Holloway

training.creativementalhealth.org.uk

Interview with Clare Holloway

First of all let’s take some time to get to know you and what makes you tick.  You are part of the Good Mental Health Co-op and we have written all about the Trialogue project previously (click here to view this article), but I want to look at  what inspires your art and how you take the conversation, turning this in to different images of representation.

Can you tell us about yourself, ..

I grew up in Pompey. I’m 40 and learning to love it. I could tell you about my mischief making. I have a story for every pub in Albert Road, but I don’t want to over-share.

what brought you to be involved in the Co-operative?

I was diagnosed Bi-Polar, and spent two years in shock. I felt like a burden, and people wanted to cast me out of society. A friend invited me to an event with the Human Library, and I found a group of people that celebrated my Bi-Polar, and welcomed me as I am. I finally felt I had found my tribe.


When did you first pick up a paint brush and tell us about your personal discovery in your creative nature?

I studied Art, but had a ten-year break from painting. I took a ‘learn to draw’ class, trying to develop my pencil skills, but realised I much prefer paint. I mentioned to the Co-operative that I would be willing to use my ability to help with the Visual Note-taking and the rest is history.

How does this link with your mental health and what makes you passionate about community work in tackling stigma?

I have found my paintings to be a great outlet for my mania, and has encouraged me to learn to channel my mania for this productive purpose. It has helped me celebrate my mental health, and I hope that through my paintings others will also learn how to channel and celebrate their mental health.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have and why?

Mika and Hozier to sing to me, and my husband to give me company.

How would your best friend describe you?

Sometimes grumpy, sometimes crazy but good fun.

Let’s talk specifically about your work for the Mental Wealth Trialogues, each picture has a very different flavour, some more abstract to others.

What is the process you use to create these art pieces? (Internal thinking and actual actions)

From talking to people in everyday life, and listening to discussions at the Trialogues, I see an image which helps me to understand the discussion. Once I have the ideas, I put everything away for a couple of days, and carry on with my normal life. This gives my thoughts and ideas time to settle and process, before I start putting the ideas onto canvas.

Still-waters-run-deep-by ClareMy painting “Still Waters Run Deep” is a piece I consider very self reflective. It was a topic that was discussed at the Trialogue, and I know personally how much work it can take to hide my anxiety, while appearing calm and graceful.  

 

Does this process vary and, if so, does this affect the end result?

The process can vary from piece to piece. The Piece, Toxic Release By Clare“Toxic Release” followed on from comments made at Trialogue, discussing how different cultures have different views on sharing inner thoughts, with some encouraged to bottle it up inside, and others feeling this is dangerous.

Self Reliance By ClareMy Self-Reliance picture was a completely different process, where I sought opinions from friends on what the word ‘Self-Reliance” meant. This completely changed my view on the piece, and ultimately changed what the painting was about.

How do you choose what ideas to use and are you able to identify what makes a particular statement or concept stand out to you?

I like to pick up the different energy from each person, which helps me to connect with the different concepts. If an image stays with me for a few days, and the energy has helped me to understand the concept then I am pretty confident it is a good concept to stick with.

Self Portrait By Clare HollowayMy self-portrait, “Lost Little Girl” is an insight my world. The idea of feeling ‘lost’ can be common, and that comment really stuck with me. Society makes attempts to supress us, through medication and ‘social norms’. However, in this portrait I want to express my own world. I may not see things the same as others (a blue heart, or a green flower petal), but it is me. If you look closely you will notice a small entrance between the supressed, sedated world and my back-to-front, upside-down world, because I always want to be able to escape.  

Thank you so much Clare :0)

A Black Dog Walking

my sweetest comfort
was to weep
into your fur
we were younger then
more resilient
when you curled by my side
in the midnight dark
perhaps you dreamed
of rabbits and bones
I lay wakeful
counting the hours
not daring
to dream at all
enough to be weary
exhaustion was my refuge
from the dull drudge and weight
of new daylight
life was all the effort

of lifting up one’s foot
and finding out a place
to put it down.
Only sometimes
late at night
when the strange people slept
you and I would go frisking
through woodlands
find the scent of rats,
track hedgehogs & foxes
see the smart grey
squirrels fly

~by Abigail Wyatt

One of the hardest things By Jo Clutton

…we’ve ever had to do.

Grieving over the loss of a pet is HARD. Many people – those of a tougher disposition, perhaps, or those who’ve never had a pet – might not understand, I’m not blaming them, I’d like them to know – *bow, scrape*- and they might say: ‘It’s only a pet.’ Husband is burying her this afternoon after the vet put her to sleep when illness caught up with her and I’ve dreaded it. He brought her back from the vet and she’s in the utility room as I type. I don’t feel horrific, but I’ll be glad when it’s all over and we can move on. She was my unjudgemental companion for some years while I suffered depression, so naturally I’m going to grieve.

I had a real traumatic crying session after seeing her in the utility room,  after which I showered to freshen up, then Husband and I went out for our daily coffee. I felt much better. Out and about it’s better. It’s when we get home it hits me, cuz this is where she was. Preparing my lunch she’d be fussing for food, in the evening she’d be curled before the fire. These are the hardest parts. I’m reminded, by family and mates, that she’d had a great life with us. A big, slightly wild garden which she’d happily roam. Shady spots in said garden she’d hide from hot sunshine (we do get it sometimes!) good food, lots of stroking, tickles behind the ears and scratches under the chin…

Anyway, just needed to say that it’s vital, after the death of a pet, just as for a human, to let it all hang out if that’s the inclination. We all have different ways of dealing with these things, I howl. Lustily and loud. Feels awful and heart wrenching at the time, but it has to be done in my case.
The problem is that we Brits have been brought up – many of us – not to show emotion, particularly in public. Terrible. Let’s be not British-like, and howl lustily and loud. Let it all hang out in public and wave our arms around and collapse into our neighbour’s arms (not sure I could do that, much as I’m fond of my neighbours!). :-} Anyway, moving on, I’m having a go at moving on. Going to wash my Mini while Husband does the dreaded deed.

Until All Lives TRULY Matter By Paulissa Kipp

This piece was born of anger and heartbreak over the fear and injustices so prevalent in the United States.  The election did start the racism, Islamaphobia, xenophobia, homophobia, rape culture or misogyny – it merely took it out of the shadows.  As more and more people died in the streets, were told they did not have sovereignty over their own bodies or lives, the rallying crying in response to the hurting was the Uber-invalidating

“All Lives Matter”.

So I began documenting all of the ways we show people that they don’t matter:  that their lives and safety don’t matter, that who they are – the very things that make them magnificent – are to be feared and punished.  And if they are really lucky, they can be punished, detained, deported and possibly, die to be society’s poster child.

“Just conform and pull yourself up by the bootstraps right out of the womb and everything will be OK”.

Puritanicanal, much?  By the time the concept sketch was done, I had filled over 20 pages of the ways we show people their lives don’t matter.  This piece speaks to that.
Don’t tell me that ALL lives matter until they truly do. Don’t tell me that until LGBT lives matter, homeless lives matter, veteran lives matter, poor lives matter, those with mental health challenges lives matter, women’s lives matter, the lives of people of color, refugee lives matter, and Muslims matter. Until then,

​ ​Until All Lives TRULY Matter By Paulissa

sit down and shut up with all lives matter. Until it is evident and people are not dying by virtue of their position in life, the color of their skin, their sexuality or gender, save it for when it is really true.

Should ALL lives matter? Absolutely! But they don’t currently in a myriad of ways. So use your voice to get into the trenches, meet someone who is different from you and learn from them about their unique challenges and work to solve problems rather than armchair quarterbacking.

Until ALL lives matter is true, spare me the platitudes.. They are meaningless.

Painting info:  Until All Lives TRULY Matter
 40 x 40" gallery wrapped canvas
 Mixed media:  collage, acrylics, altered tags, deconstructed coin belt

Calm your way to wellness with yogic breathing By Sandy Hector

According to the ancient yogic teachings, all things in the universe are made up of energy particles; prana, the universal life force.  Prana is in the environment in the form of our food, water, sun and air and the quality of the prana that we take in determines our energy levels.  Eating good, high quality foods for example fresh fruit, vegetables, olive oil, fish and shellfish give us high levels of energy, whereas processed foods such as white flour, white sugar, margarine and alcohol give us little or no energy.  [1]

The quality of the air we breathe also influences our energy levels.  For example, going for a walk in the woods and breathing in lovely fresh air gives us more energy than sitting indoors breathing in stale air and of course, good quality water and sunshine are absolutely essential for our well-being.

It is also possible to increase and direct our own energy levels – our prana, by practising pranayama, (yogic breathing).  This is a means of taking control of the breath – and  by taking control of the breath we are also able to influence the mind.  For the brain to be able to work properly it requires maximum prana and if it doesn’t get enough of it, we can start to feel ill, think negatively, feel depressed.  By using yogic breathing to increase our prana levels we can also help to generate more positive thoughts.

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (2:42) states:
‘The movement of the breath in the middle passage makes the mind still. 
This steadiness of mind is the state of manonmani (devoid of thought)’

Normally only 1/10th of the brain is active because a very high level of prana is required for the brain to function simultaneously.  Therefore when pranayama is practised regularly with concentration and dedication, the whole brain is awakened, and you become more aware of yourself, your thoughts, feelings and emotions.  You can feel more alive and less likely to use those old negative thought patterns and knee jerk responses.

However, the benefits of pranayama are not instant, you do need to practise regularly over a period of time and I would advise anyone interested to find a good yoga teacher and attend a regular class – and keep on going to the class.  The benefits are well worth the sustained effort.

[1] Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, ‘Prana and Pranayama’ ISBN 978-81-86336-79-3