Last week, completely out of the blue, I found out that mine and the other Listen Up! participants’ artworks had travelled all the way to the Hearing Voices World Congress in Boston USA! The work was exhibited there to an audience of delegates from all over the world.
It is exactly a year since I created the mirror pieces that are very personal to me. It feels so strange that the work that means so much to me and my past has been to a country I only ever see on television. Pride doesn’t do the feeling justice, it’s more a sense of complete awe that it has made it all the way over there.
I received lots of lovely tweets and messages from delegates viewing my work which really put a smile on my face. Again thank you to the Hearing Voices DU team and @literarti who went out with the pieces.
SEE MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT HERE
More blogs from the project can be found here.
Last week I was over the moon to see the ‘Hearing Voices: Suffering, Inspiration and the Everyday’ exhibition for myself. I have blogged before about how myself and a group of other young voice hearers created art to be displayed for the groundbreaking exhibition. In absolute honesty I was expecting hushed rooms and many glass cases; maybe with undertones of pity for us voice hearers. I was pleasantly surprised to find colour and sound and passion. The displays actually make voices appear to the public as just a part of life that some of us experience. Far from the freak show or pity parade I feared. In the exhibition is tons of information- even areas where you can stand on a carpet to hear a simulation of having voices in your head. My wonderful Learning Support Practitioner, K, managed to see the exhibition while in Durham on holiday. She said: “it makes hearing voices seem like just a part of being human”. This message is exactly what myself and the other young people had hoped to get across in our work. So what was the best bit? For me it must have been seeing the work of young people who struggle so greatly at times alongside original manuscripts of greats like Virginia Woolf and Julian of Norwich who experienced similar. I felt pride to have my work next to creatives like Wolf and Beckett. I have overwhelming pride for the project and all it encompasses for people who hear voices. Maybe, just maybe, alongside the horrific pain voices can cause, there is a vibrance, passion and creative flare that we can share with the world or simply use to get by.
Want to see it for yourself? The exhibition is open until the 26th of February 2017. You can find out more here.
This post was originally shared on the Upside Down Chronicles.
After meeting twice to create artwork in Leeds it was time to meet the project participants from other parts of the north. We gathered in Durham to finish our pieces ready for exhibition. We met in Palace Green Library near Durham Cathedral, which is where our work will be exhibited in November. As with previous workshops the space that the facilitators created felt very safe and relaxed. We had all the art supplies you could dream of, and were also able to discuss how we wished our work to be displayed in the exhibition. Quickly a lot of us became close, and we all felt the palpable sense of having shared experiences with one another. The two days flew by.
Sculptures, posters, paintings, figurines and mixed media images were made as seen below. Now we just wait for November and the exhibition opening!
Thank you so much to the Wellcome Trust and Hearing the Voice for giving time and space to simply be.
The finished pieces and more will be on exhibition from the 5th of November at Palace Green Library, Durham University.
Yesterday I went to Artlink Leeds to work with Hearing the Voice to make some artwork for their exhibition. It was really nice to see everyone again and to have the materials to create the ideas I had jotted into my sketchbook during the last session.
I had decided to make some pieces using mirrors, which Mary kindly sourced along with hammers, a hot glue gun and some funky green and pink canvases. First I smashed the mirror. I was provided with eye goggles (Mary not wanting to deal with the paperwork of blinding a blind girl even more) and set to work smashing. It felt very therapeutic.
“Hey Mary? Isn’t this what they call REFLECTIVE PRACTISE?!” Get it? Because it’s a mirror? Ba-bum!
Once I had broken them in a way that was aesthetically pleasing, and had come to terms with my 14 years of bad luck to come, it was then a case of merrily sticking the pieces down. They weren’t too sharp as most of the main mirror was plastic, but I wore gloves anyway,
The really good thing about being in this project is that you also have the opportunity to talk with people who know what having voices is like. Many conversations started with: “Is it just me or…” and lots of giggles were had. One of the facilitators, Rai, has her own voices was really useful to talk to because she has been in the same situation and got through the other side.
The text to go on the canvases didn’t take too long. Inside one of the cracks on the green canvas I wrote my favourite Groucho Marx quote: “Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light”. The other canvas I wrote in chalk pen across the glass: “The pieces stay together because they have to. They don’t work together quite the same though. We are all still me. We just got splintered into other things too”. I honestly don’t know where it came from but it sums up my situation quite well.
I was really pleased with the finished pieces but was sad to say goodbye to everyone again. I really hope we meet up again soon, but this time it will be when our work is ready to be shown to the world!
I have been on a mission to find other people, particularly young people, who see visions and hear voices like I do. It was while googling for voice hearing and the arts that I came across Hearing the Voice. It just happened that in browsing the site I found that they have been running workshops in order to create an art exhibition called “Hearing Voices: suffering, inspiration, and the everyday” at Durham University. They are aiming to create two cases for the exhibition- one of young people’s experiences of voice hearing and vision seeing and another of what young people would like others to know about these experiences. All of this will be portrayed through the arts.
So to Leeds I went and (joyously dodging roadworks) I arrived at Artlink. The two co-ordinators were lovely ladies; Mary Robson (a creative facilitator) and Rai Waddington (who has experience of voice hearing and provides training on the subject). There were also two other young participants and, funnily enough, one had travelled all the way from my home city! The other two girls had also been to the workshop previous but were incredibly welcoming. The group started with a discussion on what hearing voices is like and the unhelpful things people have said to us as voice hearers in the past. The notes speak for themselves.
What really stuck out to me during this discussion was how little people understand us. How we are constantly having to explain ourselves or even defend ourselves. Whether it is an underestimation of our ability, a snide comment or an off hand ‘suggestion’- people’s responses can really hurt. To talk to strangers who experience the same as me was amazing and hearing someone else say that they know what it is like for reality to not make sense at all sometimes was extremely validating. To meet complete strangers yet share such personal experiences is a very powerful thing.
I believe arts can change everything for people with mental health problems and I believe it fiercely. This belief grew when I saw the things people had produced when given the materials. Mary provided everything under the sun you could possibly need in a creative flurry- wooden boxes to decorate, tiny blank faced cloth dolls, sharpies and stencils. We were also given a brown scrapbook each. Later Mary said: “These aren’t just books, they are time and space to create and simply be”. How true that is. The fact that this lovely book had been gifted to me by these lovely people, who know and understand that I’m this misfit person that the arts can soothe, was amazing. So for the next two hours we all worked on our books, drawing and writing poetry about our experiences.
The workshop was amazing. I could have stayed there forever and I cried several times at the pure ‘wow’ of it all. There was chance to talk to the lovely Rai 1:1 and her story is living testament to the fact that people who hear voices can still fly high. I’m likely going to meet with Mary again to turn one of the ideas in my book into a physical piece of art. Everyone in the group is planning to go and see our work at the final exhibition at Durham in September. I’m so glad that I found this project, purely by chance, in time to take part. I am however intensely aware that these opportunities are few and far between and for every person who found the workshops there are many more who did not.
We need more places like this. Places where you can be with people who understand you and who share a common interest in creating. The work we did as a group had an impact on us all and I think the session was a real game changer for me. I feel stronger than ever before that having access to the arts can help people with mental health problems. I am certainly going to find a way to fight for this for everyone who needs it.
Also Published: Upside Down Chronicles