By day I work with children and adolescents who have mental health difficulties. At night I am a writer and artist. I believe that each one of us has a unique story to tell. Creativity heals and expands my mind.
A Mermaid’s Story Retold
I have always been drawn to the ocean. There is vast beauty in the shades of blue, green and every colour in between. The currents can be as gentle as a whisper or as fierce as a volcano. The sea breeze brushes away cobwebs of my mind and brings new life. There is simple joy of collecting seashells and pebbles on a beach and on occasion finding a starfish. Like the little mermaid I felt drawn to another world. The world I imagined was deep within the sea. Its story conjured up ideas of living in a temple and exploring the ancient lands with the creatures in the sea. I have since come to discover a new meaning from my childhood connection to the mermaid story and the sea. I feel a belonging with the ocean, and it is from this place that I have reinvented the mermaid story. In my story there is a shift towards taking responsibility and care for our environment, and to protect the sea and all the creatures who live within in it. There is an emphasis on the power of an individual to influence the collective. There is a move away from the stereotypical roles given to gender, and instead there is a focus on the empowerment of the human spirit. I want this story to inspire the imagination of children and adults. I want people to believe that they too can listen and tell stories whispered to them from the sea. Children have a sense of wonder in the beauty and simplicity of the world around us. They can teach grownups what it means to be present and look after the earth we inhabit. I hope this story speaks to you as much as it does to me.
Fun, free and fearless
I was browsing through the Oxfam used books collection when I found it. A fifteenth printing January 1967 edition of Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, translated from the Swedish by Florence Lamborn, and illustrated by Louis S. Glanzman. I snatched it up before even giving it a second thought. Growing up this had been a childhood bedtime classic in my household. My mama herself having been immersed with the adventures of Pippi Longstocking and being well versed.
Meaning through storytelling
We all have a story to tell, and this brings value not only to ourselves but also to others and the world. The character or story someone identifies with, can be the key to unlocking their strength and power. Journeying through that story allows space to draw parallels to our own life. Myths and fairy tales have more secrets to unlock than is often realised. The stories we say to ourselves are what form our internal reality. Changing the lived narrative can bring hope and healing.
I sit at the base of a wise old tree, the roots firm within the ground, and through the ages it stands tall. My mama was not native to the place where she raised me. She came across in her late teens with hopes and dreams. She navigated the nuances of learning another language and adapting to a new culture. As I child I was not aware of any difference, she was there, constant, and steadfast. Her love guiding me, like a compass steers a sailing ship. I learnt her mother tongue and found comfort in her embrace. She knitted and sewed me clothes in the style of her homeland. These items are still cherished and held in my mind.
Hundreds of hanging cornflowers
Creating with nature expands my horizons. It allows freshness, calm and tranquillity to enter my mind. I work frontline in the National Health Service, and this creativity brings me stillness, positivity, and my being to be refined. I go outside to explore the seasons and bring fragments of nature back inside. I draw parallels from the changing environment around me, and the wisdom it can unearth. I gather and arrange the flowers of the age, and twist cut string and fabric to create new displays. I learn from the seasons and am led by this routine. Whether it is Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter, I dance in the season’s wake. I gather cherry blossoms and bind them with jute. They may need breaking, and they take on this different form with unseen roots. I hang dried flowers with bendable wire. I make garlands from them and chain them together. They fit together like they have always belonged and take up their post in the mix of it all. I collect red, golden leaves and hang them from string. They are poised for action and speak of the need to seek clarity, from the depths of my core. I dry sweet orange slices and tie sticks of cinnamon within. I take in the fragrant smells and their delicious delight. I return to the warmth and their nourishing effect. I lay down on the earth and take some rest. I emerge and am refreshed and have a spring in my step. I relish the time to return to my craft, and treasured moments are made with this passion for life. I unpack a box of cornflowers and a new song is birthed. I snip and cut the thin copper wire, and carefully tie it around the flower so bright. I observe the petals so intricate in design. I see the light bounce off and flicker and glide. The buds no longer connected to the earth, are still alive and vibrant as my hands get to work. The cornflowers tied, the lengths never ending, they curl around and end in a twirl. As they hang from the wall, ceiling, or frame, I rock and swing to the unique story they must tell. They sing of their journey from seed to full flower, and how they sway and are merry with the sun’s heat and power. They are cherished by all and grow tall and strong. Then they are gone and whisked away from it all. They tell me how their song does not die, it is in the whisper of the wind, and they are very much alive. They enjoy being displayed in all their creative shades. They encourage me to venture and make use of their life. The option of this craft is endless and inspiring. As one dance ends another can begin. New versions of this colourful cornflower collection are being moulded in time. I create cornflower stems from green hard wire, and I cut the desired length with scissors and attach them to the bud with pliers. I bunch stems together and tie them with ribbon or lace. From the depth of their essence a kaleidoscope of pattern flows, and I feel embraced. From silence and drought new life is brought forth. I see the beauty and fruit of my hard work. Crafting with the seasons teaches me much. I see that each time has a meaning and needs to be nurtured. How soothing it is to look at my cornflower creations, a hanging banner of hope, love, and light. My hands rest from this rewarding activity, I clear up, sit back and am at peace with what may come next.
A Summer’s Day in Austria
Out of the window I see it all, I smell apple pie baking until it is crisp and brown, the grass sways as the blossoms fall,