If you could forget who you think you are, you might catch up with who you really are, and can’t see.
On the days when nothing is making sense, I resort to making art.
Sometimes, I write. Mostly, I photograph.
I feel into whatever is softly whispering to me; then let my mind wander a little, dropping the agenda of the senseless workday, and begin to make images.
This week, I realised how long I had been waiting for the apple tree outside our kitchen window to blossom. It’s a late starter and always keeps us nervously waiting so I was really delighted to use the process of photography to focus, explore my thoughts and reconnect with myself.
I guess I will never get onto the cover of National Geographic or, even, Apple Blossom Monthly, with my casual iPhone imagery but that’s not the point. The act of photographing, engaging with the sensuous aesthetics of the blossom is, in itself, restorative, therapeutic, bringing me out of the (mostly) illusory world of business and back into my own lived experiences.
Ethologist, Ellen Dissanayake tells us: “As individuals, many of us know in our bones that we need art, whatever that may mean. We cannot imagine life without music, or poetry, or man-made beauty in its many forms. We thirst or hunger for these, and feel deprived when they are absent.” For me, the seemingly mindless wandering with a camera in and among the trees just feels good.
And Dissanayake says, “…it should not be surprising that what feels good in most cases is what is good for us.”
If you look carefully, past the ego-driven coolness, you will find folks doing this kind of work on Instagram and across social media; look out for @visionanalogue or @mymorningwalks who both take the daily discipline of this kind of practice seriously.
Today, the apple blossom is being battered by wind and rain so there won’t be much photographic soul work for me. Unless of course, working with the images for this blog counts.
I think it does.
It helps me to catch up with who I really am.
I’ve been a fan of Ellen Dissanayake’s work for a while; she gives us some very clear pointers to where art comes from - the essential day to day work - as opposed to the art gallery stuff. If you are into this kind of scholarliness, her book ‘Homo Aestheticus’ is a good start.
The ‘art therapy’ route isn’t really my thing, but I’ve just picked up a copy of ‘Art as Medicine: Creating a Therapy of the Imagination’ by Shaun McNiff which I’m looking forward to reading.
It could be easy to worried about quality in the imagery - don’t - that’s not the point. The point is in the doing. JDI.