WHY PAINT THAT?

A forgotten post, late to the show.

There have been fannies in what I do for decades, I dropped them while I ventured deeper into academic art establishment but it’s one of those things like the little kid in 6th sense, “I see genitals, all – the – time”. The vulva is in no way the everything about my practice, I mean, yawn, but there is something about the openings, or the thing on the inside, the space between, eyes, sockets, vulva, flesh, tissue, teeth and lips. these are a few of my favourite things….

Recently I went to a networking event where I was pointed out to someone as “the angry vagina lady”  which is fine for now. I’m there to build relationships to advance my knowledge about local business and shinanigans to further my general understanding of community and relationships in order to feed that back into the communities I’m involved in, art, parenting, education, LGBTQ+, trama informed, mental health, private and NHS, feminist, and all the cross overs in-between.

So being known as the angry vagina lady is an in, to a conversation starter, introductions and opportunities, but I will not get stuck with it because there is more to life than our bits.

Some of my paintings practice has vulva, white, some with teeth. It’s a fucking mess, it’s a process, it’s where I’m at with it right now. I got scared by the thought of using my own body as a reference, so I went with it, to play with that vulnerability, what it lead me to was a wave of almost irrational anger towards cis white male artists using in majority cis white female bodies in their work. THAT’S NOT YOURS! Bore off is my general reaction to those practices. Go paint your own body, your own veiny thighs and the delicate hairy curve of your buttocks. I’d be far more interested if you conveyed your emotions or thinking about the world with a detailed painting of your own razor burnt scrotum.

I have been legit scared of using POC flesh in my paintings practice because it’s not mine,  because I vilifying the cis white bodies I create because in the details of the private narratives of these are hideous fucking narcissistic monsters and even in the victim/survivor its all cyclical loop, intertwined. POC flesh isn’t mine……..

3 years ago I was scared of drawing halos because they aren’t mine, so I leaned into that because the 6 year old me who had to say a prayer at school every afternoon part of me decided I should. I love finding icons with their faces scratched out in corners of medieval churches on the various faux pilgrimages my most spiritual friend and I take to a most hold pilgrimage village in Norfolk. the defaced paintings showing the anger towards someone less idea, we drive each other to do peculiar things, particularly in the name of our chosen gods.  I love icon paintings because they are traditional and unchanged, stories about spectacular humans painted by humans. It was around this time I read FEMEN, I didn’t agree with a lot of what they did but I learned about Oksana Shackko @oksanashachko trained from a very early age in iconography, made a living from it by 12, left it alone for a while during her activist days but went back to it with new meaning before her death at the age of 32 last year. That smarted a bit.

 

originally this post was about “it’s a bit religious isn’t it?”

It’s not as simple as just popping a halo on them and they tell stories of humans made saints.

I’ve had mixed feelings about organised religion but love of stories, love of people now finding and voices of women and stories of women and people left only as someone’s wife or anon, too poor of status and money.

I’m telling stories, mine mostly, if my work doesn’t make you feel YEAH or EEW, that’s uncomfortable then it’s not for you, jog on.

I moved away from installations and into painting four years ago, I feel like it a lot of catch up so things like flesh painting flesh, my own was scary, I started with way too much pink. I was scared of religion too. But it been a few years and I have to practice a few things.

Here I am, mid baby said painting period, heading back to detached fleshy parts inside organs and the line between the inside and outside the vulnerability and bravery. fear and rage, saints and sinners, monsters and heroes. parents and children.

since writing this post, and leaving it for dead, not posting it, I have painted a lot of flesh, not just mine, but just for me. Don’t @ me.

 

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My Take on the Mental Health Conference July 2019

A beautiful round up of the day 💛

Living With Mental Health

My Take on the Mental Health Conference July 2019

Hello everyone, hope you are all well today. i thought i would share with you, my thoughts about the mental health conference that took place in July this year.

I took part this time. standing up and speaking about my own personal experiences of mental health. The other speakers are what i want to talk about today.

The first speaker was Vincent Harrison. his talk was original and entertaining and very informative. He ‘rapped’ about his struggles with life , his mental health and his past experiences of life. i have never seen a talk done this way, but you could relate to his story. i found him quite inspirational to be honest.

I was the next speaker, which was quite daunting, considering who i had to follow. but i stood up and just let it flow. my talk was done…

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Meds, Me & Mental Health

#MentalHealthWeek | Blog 1:3

I’ve commented on posts, talked in person about meds, made one post about meds in IG when I was pissed off but grateful for my conviction when a doctor lectured me. it occured to me recently, I’ve never written about meds, it’s been almost 4 years perhaps a bit more since I’ve been med free & that’s ok. It might be that I will always have a maintenance does of 10 or 20mg. But I’d love to know what I’m like without it.

Will colours be brighter and orgasms more intense?

NO really I mean it. recently I chose to up my does to a level I haven’t had before. I’m not weeping at the drop of a hat or taking 3 hour depression naps any more which is good, but the world feels a bit flat and my interest in hedonistic stuff is just meh, oh and to add to that none of my clothes that fit well last year fit at all now, buying new jeans? do not want! though I’m not crying into my coffee or sleeping half the day so its swings and roundabouts right?

One afternoon with friends, possibly 2 years ago I felt content, borderline euphoric, then got too drunk and ruined it, Sometimes everything loses its zing, but every now and again I notice that Im noticing colours, they vibrate and pop. Will I get that natural high of just living my best life, if I eventually come off meds? How will I cope with the lows, the natural ebb and flow of life?

I’ll have to find a whole new normal! AGAIN.

Am I capable of self regulation? I quit drinking over a year ago because I couldn’t regulate that. I tried several ways around it, keeping the responsibility and giving it to someone else, but I just couldn’t do it. So I stopped. That in itself is probably a whole other post. I definitely have alcoholic tendencies but I won’t take the name of alcoholic because I feel it takes away from those who have had a greater struggle, and those around them that have held their struggle with them. In a way this is very much how I identified as a victim of traumas, someone else had it much worse than I did. Though everything is relative so this thought isn’t particularly healthy.

There is something in this that I know I’m not alone in. It’s a you do you thing of course. We manage. Those who’ve recovered or who have the burden of being just self aware enough to not fit into a broken system of health and social care. Those who suffer greatly but manage and keep managing.

This is how I manage. I take the prescription and do the talking when I need to. Mostly. Actually not that much. Sometimes just doing the motions of self care. I keep ticking over, balanced. I have some big hurdles to stride over but I think I can manage, but only with the meds and the talking, being visibly, painting and leaning into my village. I want to be off them but know now isn’t the time. but I’m aware there may never be a good time. I will have to make it happen.

I was taught from an early age that you can’t have a mental health lable on your medical record, because “people” will know, the same people who taught me that you can’t have an abortion because “you’d go crazy with guilt just like my sister”. *eye roll GIF*  “ it will dull your senses. You can’t expect to still make art.” When I eventually went to the GP far too late, I took the prescription to the pharmacist took them home, but I distinctly remember feeling scared and so grateful for a friend who was honest with me about their experience.

The first week was hell, but I was prepared for this because I had guidance from a friend. I’m pretty sure she cooked for me twice that week. Due to this, and her, whenever a friend tells me they are starting, changing or upping meds for depression or anxiety I tell them to lean into their village.

here ar 6 simple ideas to bare inmind if you have never taken anit depresants or anxiety medication. 

  • Expect very little of yourself
  • Breath, wash, dress, eat. (Parent/work if you have to obvs)
  • Get simple to make meals and healthy snacks in.
  • Have a selection of things to comfort and distract you, a series to get into, podcasts, playlists to listen to. Simple books nothing too taxing.
  • Take a little walk every day if you can.
  • Invite friends over, you don’t have to tell then why, just don’t be alone.this is the top one for me. If you can cook for friends do or ask them to or order take away together. If you feel up to it go to a different friends house for dinner. Some people find it easier to be alone but I find it’s comforting to have someone around even if I can barely form a coherent sentence.

It’s so easy to not look after yourself, but there is no need to suffer or punish yourself. I had people around because it stops me zoning out for too long and scaring Dynoboy. In the early days, way back in crisis it was the friends coming over that were making sure we both ate dinner in the first few weeks of meds. I found out the dangerous way what withdrawal feels like. During a time when I was really not ok, unable to get my prescription and didn’t realise the consequences, went 4 days without them.

Things got weird. Fizzy eyes and electric whooshing head,legs that weren’t my own and a cod fish flip flopping in my chest.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said nothing revolutionary but I thought it was important to say how I feel about it and what it can be like. Some people have had horrible experiences with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) others are fine, some people don’t find they help and have to try something else. Some people feel it is polluting the body and I should be able to manage with meditation and yoga, well that’s their choice for their body but I need this as well as a range of other things to manage my mental health. There is a ridiculous train of thought that someone is weak for taking medication for mental health. Which I just cannot fathom, it’s just ignorance and I have no time for it. Oh a good one is it MASKS your true feelings, I don’t buy that, I lived half a life in dissosiation, I find pinning down one emotion quite difficult, being hypervigilant does that.  I had to learn to feel safely and couldn’t do that with the epic ups and downs with out the meds. Sure there is a flatness now and then but maybe thats just life sometimes.

Hopefully the background stuff will mellow and I’ll get to experiment bringing the dosage down, with gp and a plan and contemplate not having them, there are some unpleaseasnat side effects to long term usgae i’d like to avoid. Everyones experience is different, it’s a very personal choice.

Pill shaming is gross, but it’s good to see people out there making awesome memes and cartoons countering that BS.

Over all I have to do what works best for me. My main focus is to being balanced, I have already proved that I cannot do mum mode with a wobble for a sussstained period with out serious repercussions. I was a robot zombie mum. It was scary and not just for me.  I dicsoved that our house is less stressful when I eliminante as much anxiety from myself as I can. Kids know intuitivly when things are off with their primary care givers and they test it, which isn’t fun, but it’s tottally normal, it’s how they find out where the bounderies are. We took a lot of testing and just about managed to prove where the bounderies in our house are. I couldn’t have done that with out support, part of that was and is anti depresant.

I have to look after myself in order to be the mum I need to be. 

Thanks for reading. Part 2 and 3 will be out later in the week, and will focus on the theme of this years menatal health awareness week, Body Image.

If you apprecisate this blog check out my Instagram, Facebook or Twitter @findingavoice

menatl health week UK 13 – 19 May 2019

No tech Tuesdays

#notechtuesday 😲

A while back, as a family we went to a workshop by the very interesting chap @PaulJungo it helped introduce ideas that are sometimes better heard from someone else, “erk, whatever, no way!” is a standard reaction to the idea of putting in more tech boundaries in.

We’ve successfully implemented no tech at night(unless it’s a difficult time and some soothing tunes or stories are needed) and introduced alarm clocks. Actual physical alarm clocks in our bedroom to avoid having our tech next to our beds.

Recently as a consequence for a boundary broken, the PC was out of bounds for 6 days. I would often avoid this action because then I’d have to live with a grumpy, bored young person, they are the WORST, worse than hungry toddlers for sure.

I had to put on my Big Mum pants on and be extra focused on asserting the boundery lines but we did it, and we thrived. It’s benefits were so obvious that I’ve implemented #NoTechTuesday which sounds worse than it is to a screen addict. From school finishing time until dinner time we’re both going to have no screens. Instead, Lego, building airfix models, painting, table tennis(in @castlemall), dog walks, cooking or baking, life skills, (Dynoboy suggested ironing! Who is he? Erk no, was my gut reaction, but ok sure ironing!) Some how get some of the awesome ideas he has into a notebook/writing stories together. Endless UNO and Battle ships. I’m going to get taught how to skateboard.

Fundamentally it’s to offer time to the young person I adore, to try to build good habits and make more space for compassion, for one’s self and others. Which is actually not that easy, if you’re used to giving yourself a hard time it’s easy to do the same to others. To break that cycle takes time WITH people, to care and be cared for. This stuff is HARD.

This is week 6, he still hates it but we are getting good stuff done.

💛

Statement Of Intent

New Venture

I'm Prudent Collective

Creative research – bringing mental health communities together, within curatorial practices.

Actively exhibiting, creating space to safely exhibit art and experience respectfully,  maintaining a critical eye when displaying the group work. It is a growing group of makers who have accessed mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk. Mostly based in Norwich. The groups first exhibition was within Finding A Voice, it has since gained new members and momentum.

The group exists as a way to safely and professionally display creative responses and artworks. It is also expanding, using the collaborative approach to platform others work created in therapeutic or support spaces, in order to highlight the support networks of the area and to give the makers the experience of exhibiting. Some of the work we display anonymously but with the backing and accountability of the group as a whole. Filling the gap that creatives fall down when trying…

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