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Returning to Art Making, Creating Representation & Taking Up Space.

So here’s a thing… Over the past few months I’ve been hibernating, incubating and immersing myself in my own creative processes. Deciding to shift my focus from solely expressive arts workshops/events to dedicating more time to my own art making practice once again.

This is something I haven’t done fully in around a decade, as my focus has primarily been on working with others. Although, I keep an ongoing reflective art making practice, this has been a purely personal process. Both, I have learnt are necessary for my self care & survival.

Born in the UK as a queer woman of Goan heritage and raised Catholic, there are limited sources of positive representation & role models for me. In most spaces, I must hide parts of my identity to fit in. In most spaces I am seen as different, Other. It is often quite challenging to exist fully. However, this lack of visibility has propelled me to stop hiding, to create representation for myself, and to take up space through existing platforms.

The themes of my work, as ever, include Feminine Power, Sexuality, Identity and Inclusion, as these happen to be very close to my heart. There are several pieces that I have been working on which I will look forward to sharing when they are ready!

Unrehearsed

In my latest piece and first piece, I had set out to visually portray two differing parts of self: one which I experience to be highly functional, able and very capable, and another in which I experience in my depressive & anxious states which restrict my ability to function ‘normally’.

What began as an image of me dissolving & disappearing became one in which I actually felt more a sense of emergence, showing up and building strength. What resulted for me, was a personal shift in perception, from experiencing difference negatively to being much more empowered to exist more confidently, through creative expression.

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Mental Health & Therapeutic Arts

My journey with mental health has been tightly woven with my identity as a creative person. For me, art is a tool and a survival strategy, which I have utilised since childhood. Diagnosed with depression in my teens, it wasn’t long before I discovered the limits of biomedical interventions and have since used more holistic methods of healing. Inspired by the therapeutic benefits of the arts, I trained in Creative Expressive Therapies, and now facilitate workshops to nurture others in fostering personal transformation & growth.

You can see my work as part of the upcoming Invisible Illness Behind the Smile Exhibition, 26th Feb – 23rd March, 2018. The opening night and a chance to meet the artists will be on 3rd March, 2018 5.30pm – 8.30pm.

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Past Workshops & Events

A Celebration of Feminine Power

It has been a busy few weeks of sessions and events, which have both moved and inspired me beyond words. Despite this, I thought I would gather a few, to share the joy I have felt as a result of sharing these spaces.

Earlier in the year, I’d felt strongly that there needed to be more spaces which celebrated femininity, as an antidote to a culture which is presents itself as predominantly hyper masculine.

As part of this work, I have chosen to focus on creating spaces for women in order to reclaim feminine power and celebrate creativity, which is often repressed and undervalued.  So far, this has been manifested through Reclaiming Your Feminine Power session and more recently She Speaks, (which I proudly co-host with talented artists Aoife O’Conner & Jo Lewis).

Reclaiming Feminine Power

Following on from the ‘Reclaiming Your Feminine Power’ taster, I then launched the full version at the end of May. Calling together those that identify as women, who like myself, have felt drawn to sisterhood, to being creative, expressive for both personal & collective healing.

During this time we explored what feminine power means to each of us, unpacking the societal conditioning which often inhibits this, reclaiming the missing pieces of power that we have lost along the way. In addition, I led a guided mediation with clear quartz to release what no longer serves in reclaiming this power and invite in what does serve.

It was such an honour to hold this space and undoubtedly deeply felt (and still do!) that there was such a beautiful, subtle yet powerful energy within the group.

Thank you SO much to each woman who joined!

 

 

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She Speaks

Where do I begin?

…Perhaps with saying, that this night began as a simple exchanging of words, between 3- passionate about the arts, inclusivity and female representation- female artists (Myself, Jo & Aoife).

This is most fitting, because it demonstrates the power of words which can be so transformative. This was a vision we each shared and one that have also been able to share much wider, with all that came and that supported us with the night.

We launched with a poem we’d co-written only days before, to warm up the stage and call up our talented line-up. This included headliners Sophie Sparham & Milla Tebbs , Pippa Nayer, Shub Heywood and Rosa Straw, as well as open mic open to all.

This was a truly breath taking experience, and one that I am so grateful of. I felt that there was a strong sense of community in sharing our creativity, our vulnerabilities, our solidarity and our cause for celebration for using these powerful voices!

 

 

 

Upcoming Sessions

 

Feminine Rising: Sister Circle

Weds 21st June, 2017, 7.30pm – 9.30pm, £3/£5/£10

Feel free to join us this Summer Solstice for a nurturing, creative and supportive space to explore the last 6 months, releasing and looking at what we’d like to manifest in the next 6 months. Powerful stuff!

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Free to BE: Creative Meditation Session

Tuesday 27th , 2017, 1pm – 2pm, £5/Donation

This is a themed space to stop a min, relax and unwind. I’d like to invite whoever feels interested in supporting such a place, so feel free to join if you fancy it. Be good to see you there!

This event has passed!

She Speaks 

TBC

We are taking a break over the summer, ready to launch our next event in September – so please watch this space for more info!

In the meanwhile, why not follow us on Twitter or Facebook??!

 

Reflections

The Importance of Creativity & Self-Expression for Survival.

My first seedlings have begun to emerge and with this exciting visual, I can’t help but briefly reflect on my journey so far.

It seems that there is always room for growth and self-discovery. This past year, or even perhaps the past few years have really highlighted this to me. I know that I am not alone in this and that there are many others who have experienced this darkness, this wondering if it is ever going to be possible to emerge again. The soil that surrounds is dark and unfamiliar but there is no option but to trust that it contains all that is needed for one to thrive.

The world around has suggested, repeatedly, that it is only survival of the fittest that counts but I’d like to contest that. It seems entirely ableist, reductionist, individualist and elitist to imagine this is the case – not a world that is inclusive, caring, nurturing or supportive to those in need. I wonder whether survival links more to solidarity, to supportive social structures and ability to adapt to the prevailing external culture or else creating a new culture altogether. Just a thought.

One of my favourite poets, Audre Lorde discusses internalised oppression and suggests the need to locate & challenge this. It is the notion of having aspects of ourselves that reinforce negative, unhelpful, hateful and often toxic thoughts, feelings and opinions for ourselves as well as other.

She states,

If our history has taught us anything, it is that action for change directed only against the external conditions of our oppressions is not enough.  In order to be whole, we must recognize the despair oppression plants within each of us…  But we can put our finger down upon that loathing buried deep within each one of us and see who it encourages us to despise, and we can lessen its potency by the knowledge of our real connectedness, arcing across our differences.

– Audre Lourde, 1982.

Challenging these internalised constructs can help a lot, as far too much time can be spent in consequent fear and self-doubt. It is easy enough to feel inadequate in the world around us: there constant messages from the media suggesting that there is less and less space for people who are queer, women, of colour, physically disabled, have poor mental health, have low income etc.

For me, as a queer woman of colour, I have found it felt essential to return to my self, and to stand boldly and courageously in my truth. My artistic expression has been and is a huge part of this, as a visual artist, writer, and performer. These forms are pre-language and can be made very accessible. Again the main barriers are often our own internalised constructs/self-beliefs, which tells us that we are not good enough, but of course we are.

Within my own process, I have used the countless powerful & transformative tools that I have gained throughout my training as a Creative Arts Practitioner, as well as being informed by my engagement in practices such as Biodanza, Creative Writing, Spoken Word, Kundalini Dance & Movement Medicine. These teachers & mentors have helped me to access my own inner resources for healing and remind me of my own power & capacity to do so.

These rich experiences have catalysed my practice and I look forward to sharing the tools and techniques, that have also played an integral part of my transformative journey. This will be through a variety of workshops which will include exploring, expressing and embracing different aspects of self, with a focus on inner truth, feminine empowerment and unity.

So as I tend my seedlings and as they begin grow, I’d like to set the intention that they will have every chance of not only surviving but also thriving. I have every faith that through time, nurturing and care, that they will.

 

Em x