Artist: Katrina Atkinson

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Art is not a study of positive reality, it is the seeking for ideal truth:

John Ruskin.

Jewellery Making.

Out of making springs relationships It can make you happier. Kevin McCloud .

Find out more about CAT: www.community-arts-therapies.org

Find out more about Art Therapists: Baat www.baat.org

Art is my Therapy.

I have been interested in Art Therapy for many years; for myself my Art has been and continues to be my own therapy. From a very young age drawing
had been my escape into other worlds, I could fantasise and create things that to me were real.

I remember at school the main thing I shone in was the Art class, or when I was illustrating stories. I have an early memory of my headmaster praising me for a painting of ‘The Sorcerers Apprentice’. The story captured my imagination, I was allowed to continue to work on the painting through other lessons until I had finished.


Throughout my school years I had little confidence except for my ability with my art. In senior school, when I had Art, Drama or Design lessons, I knew they would get me through the day. As you can see I didn’t really enjoy school, after all, I didn’t fit in the box, therefore I was considered stupid, and I felt and thought I was stupid, it has only been in recent years I have realised that it is the school system that is outdated and they did not and do not recognise creatives such as myself.


What does Art do for me?

I think it does many things at different times. I know when I’m not creating sufficiently I do not feel balanced; I am not  happy unless I get my Art quota, maybe it is an addiction?


For many people I feel the benefits are or can be similar to that of meditation, when one gets into the zone, (and believe me it takes practice) although I don’t always get there,  yet when I do, it is like stepping into another world  ‘time’ becomes timeless. Thoughts float in and out of my head, my eyes and hands go into automatic mode,  mesmerised, I just work. Afterwards, it’s as if a spell has been broken, I find myself quite exhausted, yet relaxed and restored in my psyche. During this time I process my worries, problems are thrashed out and solved. There is this sense of satisfaction to be able to make something from start to finish, enjoying the process, doing - for the sheer pleasure, even though there can often be a kind of struggle or even fight. There is something so compelling it makes me keep at it, working until I succeed. I’m not saying every work is a master piece or even successful, but the process is complete. So no matter where my future takes me I know I need to make art!


Carl Jung.

Carl Jung the Swiss psychotherapist and psychiatrist founded analytical psychology, he was very interested in creativity and the process of interpreting
dreams; attempting to achieve dream-like states in order to reveal ones own subconscious thoughts. He became encapsulated in mythology, fairytales, and alchemy, believing in the collective subconscious. He observed that people seemed dislocated from their emotions. He studied various cultures, finding many were more connected to their roots and nature than those in the western world.

It seems to me that Jung believed that people in the west were losing some significance in their wellbeing, essence in their life by removing themselves from nature. He seemed to have a foresight of the problems of the future, problems that are emerging today. His studies were long before the technology that is available today; yet the full significance of this may well be to come?

Jung may well have conceived the idea of Art Therapy; he created a beautifully illuminated manuscript, ‘The Red Book’,
probably influenced by ‘The Book of Kells’, he enjoyed making wood carvings and modelling in clay.  When Jung retired from psychoanalysis he built a house from clay, which he worked on for many years, more of a sculpture than construction possibly a form of therapy, I believe he began work on this after the death of his mother.


Donald Winnicott.

After Jung, The psycho-analyst Donald Winnicott made studies of babies and their mothers, observing that infants transfer their attachment of their mother to a favourite object, maybe a toy, blanket etc. these we call soothers or comforters for the baby to focus on in the absence of mother. In later life the infant may discard or bother less with the object, at this stage the child has a realisation that there is a separation between their inner world and the exterior world. Other objects become of interest, interactive play, creativity and appreciation will begin. Winnicott believed this to be the root of why life is worth living, we are not part of the larger machine but individuals, he argues that play is very important to the therapeutic process, and again he references other subconscious activities such as dreams.

C.A.T.

I have been lucky enough to have been involved as a Trustee and volunteer with C.A.T. (Community Art Therapies) BANES (Bath and North East Somerset) initially set up to help carers of all ages, that they may have some time for themselves, who may rarely have a break from their duties. CAT offered taster days and workshops, sometimes simply for carers, and other times for the whole family. Many carers are children who have to help parents and elder siblings, others, elderly having to care for husband/ wife or even child /grandchild, with a myriad of other reasons to be carers in between. I was given the opportunity to co-therapy several Art Therapy sessions by assisting a qualified therapist. I participated in all the modalities at various times, Art, Drama, Dance and Music Therapy sessions. Art Therapy of course was for me the most enjoyable and interesting, but Drama Therapy took me right out of my comfort zone, in Dance Therapy I felt relaxed, Music Therapy I felt so liberated!




ART THERAPY  and THERAPEUTIC ARTS.

Art therapy must only be facilitated by a qualified Art Therapist or Art Psychotherapist, yet I believe Art sessions or Art clubs and Art groups, set by
sympathetic Artists can also be beneficial and have therapeutic aspects. People of all ages with varying needs, including mental health, learning and physical disabilities, can benefit from art; of course the pleasure of creating is a therapeutic process in itself. The advantage of joining in with a group or class situation gives much support, making a commitment to keep going through the cold winter nights, whereas on ones own enthusiasm wanes, we can always find something else to do which we can tell ourselves is more important; it’s too easy these days to stay indoors with the television and computers?


It is my belief that creativity is essential for our equilibrium; evidence seems to show that with the use of computers and television,  there is more of a need than ever to have processes that are practical, and physical activities. We may possibly loose the ability to think and do in a creative and practical way.

(Please go to my Creative Futures page, for more on my beliefs - ‘If  you don’t use it you’ll loose it!’)


I reference visual art because I am a visual artist, but I also feel creativity includes other modalities such as music, dance, drama, singing, play therapy (these are all play) the affects are similar and as profound. Listening to a piece of music can change your mood for the day, Dancing may also lift your spirit or bring you closer to someone, Drama and Role play, whether performing or watching can become escapism,  playing an instrument can give immense benefits as an outlet.

 

Arts & Craft Club with residents in a Retirement Home.

Decoupage Eggs for Easter Time.

Decoupage Trinket Boxes.

Pomanders for Christmas.

Something for everyone: Model Aeroplanes.

Candle making for the ladies.

Lavender Bags.

Jubilee Mosaic.

2012 was the Olympic year and The Queen’s Jubilee, I thought it would be nice to commemorate the occasion with something special. Using the opportunity to have an ongoing project that all the residents had the opportunity in which to take part. The Jubilee mosaic was created, one resident worked methodically every week. It was a great success!

A little bit of Gaudi in Cheddar. A place where all the children could go at break- time; when they feel a little sad or lonely. Making an opportunity for other children to approach, encourage them to join in and play with them.

Every child in the school participated all three hundred plus... Each child made a clay tile which I glazed and fired, then I constructed a concrete block bench shape, I put a planter in the top.

Visiting Artist in school. Rag -rugging. each class in the school created a piece of rag -rugging. The pieces didn’t get as filled as if we were making a rug but the effects were attractive and it meant the children worked on a new to them yet traditional skill.

BIRTHDAY PARTIES: from tots to teens!. Designing bags.

Over the years I have organised many birthday parties for all ages of children. Projects for younger children have included painted figurines, where as slightly older children do such projects as ‘Have a go pottery’ using a potters wheel. As the children get older they enjoy Arts and Craft parties the subjects become more sophisticated.

I have also been Visiting Artist in after school and Holiday clubs I tailor make projects for the ages and themes depending on the club.

FESTIVALS

VISITING  ARTIST: Schools. The Friendship Seat.

For years I have worked as a Visiting Artist with different client groups. The elderly, Learning and Physical disabilities and children of all ages in schools, after school/ holiday clubs and parties.

Each week I create an Arts and Craft project. When I first began to facilitate the Arts sessions I was extremely structured and formal, I soon realised that a more suitable approach was to go in with the materials required for the activity of the day, have a flexible attitude and be ready for anything. Some days maybe only one resident would attend another fifteen. I feel the relaxed atmosphere with those attending, meant often they would ease into projects, ending up having had a go even if they were doubtful in the first place.

In order to set any project I need to take into consideration the varying creative abilities, physical and mental capabilities, often people in sheltered housing or a retirement setting may have limited capabilities due to illness, (such as strokes) mobility, dexterity, eye sight, hearing as well as dementia and alzheimer’s,( also other mental health problems that can accompany any one of the former.)

Attendance varies dramatically depending on the person. Some arrive not enthusiastic about participating so may need to warm up. Others have never done anything they consider creative throughout their life, and regard this as child’s play; often we have accomplished artists in our midst, this in itself can bring problems, as the fear of being unable to live up to previous personal standards over-rules. Therefore it is important for me to choose projects that can appeal to all, some projects are Art based others Craft orientated. My mission is to create variety, usually something that can be completed in one session, that would not be perceived as childlike, or condescending yet interesting and enjoyable.

I have seen some really amazing things happen, one lady with dementia, memory loss and physical difficulties, who in my opinion could probably have been suffering with depression and loneliness, seemed so unhappy, would come to class but with a little guidance produce some wonderful work, coming to life enjoying focusing on something different, she loved the social side as well and the tea and cake.

Another participant who had very restrictive use of her arm as a result of chemotherapy after breast cancer, also suffered with depression and felt lonely and isolated, her husband had died and so she moved to the retirement home. Most weeks she would come to class, usually starting by saying that she couldn’t do anything because of her arm, I found if I left the materials nearby, sooner or later she would have a go and often produce something she would be very proud, the sessions really raised her spirits.

One gentleman would come every week and talk about aeroplanes having been an engineer which had been his life’s work and pleasure. I always asked him what he would like to do, he would always respond with aeroplanes, I was able to find some model kits, which he assembled and then painted, he was very proud of this achievement and couldn’t wait to show his family.

Rag- rugging at a School.

COMMUNITY and SCHOOL - Projects & Collaborations;

Beautiful Days 2012;  I was on the Art crew. The theme was ‘hearts’ and therefore we decorated boards and hangings and made things that were representative, we could be as loose and diverse as required.

I collaborated on this Heart Sculpture (see photo) a thumping pumping ‘Beating Heart’, a giant’s heart.

We made it using a metal Scaffold Frame, Water Pipe, Electric Pump + Led streams, Dye, Plastics, Cellophane and, Chain.


Collaboration with Lisa Ebert www.facebook.com/LisaEbertPortraitPhotography

VISITING ARTIST SCHOOLS: Shop Window Community Project.

For Communities week I assisted the students in year five to create two shop windows and door to cover boards on an empty shop in the village of Cheddar.

The Children decided on a sweet shop, I then created a template for the children to design and then transfer onto the board. The children could paint sweets or something of their choice that they felt epitomised Cheddar, i.e. strawberries, cheddar pinks, cheese...

The concept was to give the children freedom within a contained form and thus create an overall formal appearance. And brightens up the village and environment.

THESE ARE A FEW ARTIST I BELIEVE USE ART AS THEIR THERAPY OR AS A THERAPEUTIC PROCESS: Van Gogh, Loiuse Bourgeois, Frida Kahlo, Tracey Emin, Joseph Beuys, Jackson Pollock.

VISITING  ARTIST: Schools. Straw Maquette designs for larger Sculptures.

ARTS & CRAFTS: Residential Home for Adults with Learning Disabilities.

This workshop was a partnership. I worked with a glass artist. The residents were to design the stained glass window for above the front door. The Glass artist then transferred the design onto glass fired it and then it was inset into the front of the house.

Sculpture:

These sculptures are made from rolled newspaper. newspaper has been rolled around dowel and then taped, slide dowel out thus creating a paper rod ready to be used to make a large sculpture; It was a way to create large scale sculptures but very cheap materials. The sculptures were quite geometric and architectural. It was great to see the variety of work!

This project was progressed over 6 sessions.

ART THERAPY IN THE COMMUNITY:

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