Creativity is the first medicine

Creativity is the first medicine, A4, Oil pastel and coloured biro on legal pad paper

This is my fragmented heart – a response to what I heard and saw and felt on Friday when I attended Edge Hill University Arts Centre event – The Role of the Arts, Arts Therapies, and Psychotherapies in Supporting Mental Health in Black and Allied Communities. The words around the heart are a quote from Andrea-May Oliver, which blew my mind:

“Ancestors, thank you for walking the path we wouldn’t dare to tread.”

And at the bottom is another quote from Samantha Adams, which forms the title of my piece: “Creativity is the First Medicine.”

As someone who experienced sexual, emotional and physical abuse in childhood and daily discriminations of sexism throughout life, I can attest to creativity as first medicine. When I was in the midst of a breakdown 11 years ago and I could not get the mental health help I needed, art was there. Without art I would have been in a dark hole for a long time.

I made a sculptural piece on canvas and wrote a poem on it. This is the poem:

I am not broken
I don’t need to be fixed
What I need is presence
For my parts to be mixed

You can see this painting here: https://juliafry.com/legal-high-2011/

Trauma, any trauma regardless of the discrimination that caused it, can be healed with expression in safe arms. It’s hard to go there, to those places of pain, and it must be done gently, allowing the pain to bubble up rather than go seeking it. It’s so worth it. The more we do the inner work, the more we honour ourselves, our ancestors, the people we share this planet with and we can create heaven on earth if we can hear one another’s pain, have a conversation about it, a dance, a song, throw away what is no longer needed in the fire and create together. That’s what we’re here for. We are creative beings. Let’s create some magic!

Being Human is Weird and Wonderful

Being Human, 16 x 16 cm, colour pencils on paper

This drawing I made yesterday feels disturbing. It’s kind of insect-like, yet has an ‘as above, so below’ feel to it. But the grey half is different to the colourful half. It’s like the colour has sucked itself out to exist for a while as colour and will eventually return. The colour is dancing, going, “I am here!” It is attached to the grey thing, is still part of it, but has, briefly, taken another form. It feels separate but isn’t. I think it’s about being human.

What do you think?

Why Abstract Art is Better Than Figurative Art

The Ant and The Butterfly, acrylic on paper, A5

In therapy this week I allowed my inner 5 year old child to paint and she painted this abstract piece (and told a gruesome story about a butterfly and an ant). As she painted I realised I never liked making figurative images (except cartoon faces, which I drew loads of when I was a little older). I loved abstract art. I loved looking at the colours and the textures of the paint. I always have.

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The Wonderful Long Term Effects of Practising Compassion

The Wonderful Long Term Effects of Practising Compassion, Pigment pen on paper, 16 x 16 cm

Here it is, folks, for you see – as plain as the nose on your face when you’re looking in a mirror. The Wonderful Long Term Effects of Practising Compassion:

  • There’s clarity.
  • There’s love.
  • There’s asymmetrical equality.

Less is More Than the Sum of Our Parts

More Than The Sum of Our Parts, Pigment pen on paper, 15 x 15 cm

This drawing began as a mindfulness exercise to soothe me after stretching my comfort zone. I like the feel of the paper and the sound of the pen making dots. As I look at it I realise it’s a reflection of all the things I’ve been thinking about lately – spirituality, resonance, parts therapy, to name a few. How do you soothe yourself?

Turning Over A New Leaf

Turning Over A New Leaf, Pigment pen on paper, 16 x 16 cm

This is my latest pigment pen drawing, Turning Over A New Leaf. My research into the phrase, “turning over a new leaf,” highlighted the assumption that often accompanies the intention to turn over a new leaf. Here’s a definition from Collins:

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Feeling Small in Awe and Vulnerability

Sunset Teardrop, Acrylic on unprimed canvas, 60 x 80 cm

I feel so excited to share my new style of painting with you! Sunset Teardrop is an amalgamation of my non-verbal responses to childhood trauma and to the awe of sunsets. How strange that these two should come together in one painting. Or perhaps it’s not so strange…

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Emotional Flashbacks Don’t Have to be Destabilising

Mauve Daisies 2020, photograph

I had an emotional flashback on Monday. I had a deadline for an expression of interest for an art project yesterday. I feel wiped out today. An emotional flashback results in my body going into shock. There are no visual memories, which is why I sometimes find it confusing to understand – seeing is believing, right? It is purely a bodily reaction to a past trauma. My extremities go very pale and I shiver. It’s when I start shivering that I think, ‘wait, what’s going on?’ 

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Lonely Teenage Part Discovered Whilst Painting Dots

I tapped into a teenage part of me whilst painting dots. I was feeling lonely. One of the things I love about painting is the meditative aspect. I can sit and be aware of thoughts, feelings and sensations without the need to act on them because I’ve dedicated myself to the task of painting dots. I first became aware of this choice in relation to thoughts when I painted Constellation in 2009. It was a revelation! I don’t have to act out every thought and impulse!

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