I’ve been sitting staring at my iPad for a while now trying to find a way of putting what I experienced into words. I went through some utterly atrocious and Dickensian things as a child and I am completely aware of the lasting effect they have had on me and just how deep the scars run. I was told I was useless from an early age and witnessed at first hand the kinds of deprivation and squalor that reinforced that view. Things that have emotional triggers that are hard wired into my being and make little sense to people around me. I am not a negative person although it is an easy accusation to level at me. I want things to be ‘better’. I also want people to appreciate and use the gifts that they have wisely and have a tendency to get deeply frustrated when I see people squander those gifts and their energy on things that don’t make a difference or on people on whom the effort is wasted. In simple terms I go to an old fashioned phrase “neither use nor ornament” when something doesn’t fit into either of those categories I tend to start shuffling uncomfortably and find a way to extricate myself from a situation before I say something that offends. I would like to think that, in a very tiny way, last night what I did and what people did with it fitted into at least one of those categories.
I hide things in plain sight. I’m fascinated by people’s (including myself to a degree) ability to ignore what is around them so they don’t have to deal with it. It is more apparent now with a right wing government and a compliant media but people have always had the ability to ignore what is in front of their face if they really don’t want to deal with it. Writer Douglas Adams touched on it with his “somebody else’s’ problem” invisibility field which made things become more invisible as it became more apparent they really shouldn’t be there. People can often just limp along through life, dragging their own, screamingly obvious to everyone but them, stuff through their world. It’s their choice but it can be hard to watch and keep quiet about constantly, knowing that they have on a conscious or unconscious level chosen not to see it. I like to pepper things with meaning, layers and layers of it, codes, symbols, in jokes, dead languages. It is often there just to give me a little chuckle but as my mental health has deteriorate at various points the intent can become far more serious, up to a point where I can really lose my way and my judgement.
Last night I got a chance to do something useful with what I have learnt and developed, I was given an opportunity to pass on what I do to people to whom expressing uncomfortable ideas and emotions might be of some use. I am very concious here whilst writing this of a need to balance my need to get some of my thoughts and feelings out of my head with the need to maintain strict privacy to everyone else and so all I can really say is that whilst I have experienced things growing up that were atrocious, what happened to me was really nothing compared to other people’s experiences. The weird thing is though is the normality of everyone, just a room full of adults with that squirmy sense of unease of some well meaning person wafting in and badgering them into being ‘creative’, whatever that means. I think I wrote this before somewhere, our reality, however bizarre or extreme it may seem to someone else is our own ‘normal. It fits us like a second skin unless we are jarred out of it by some extreme set of circumstances , we accept that set of perceptions we have gathered as being straight down the middle of human experience, as being how everyone sees the world.
With that thought in my mind, I came to the room of some twenty or so people with as little preconception as I possibly could within my own definition of ‘normal’ which I know is way off the, erm, norm. I began by doing a bit of sharing, my own normal story in as vague a way as I could to give them all an idea of where I’m coming from and hopefully put them at ease that I was not some fey, well meaning, patronising , do gooder who’d come swanning in to draw out their inner selves or some such rot. I was there to offer them a potentially useful set of tools and if they didn’t need nor want that then at least I could just do some of the basic art teacher stuff on materials and techniques.
Two hours whizzed past, there was such a wide range of abilities, the usual “I can’t draws” who clearly could, people to whom it came easily and those to whom it was an uphill struggle, I got a taste of my own medicine in places where it was obvious that someone was probably thinking “just what is the point in what you do?” Which I took with the wry amusement that I was being dealt a measuring of karmic backlash for my own overly vocal frustrations with my own perceived futility of the actions of others I have poured scorn upon in the past. I think I did do some good though and got many hugs and thanks. I don’t deal well with praise at the best of times as I had so little of it growing up but mainly I felt it wasn’t directed at the right person as they did all the heavy lifting, I just pointed them in the general direction of what they could do. Their results were amazing as well as the thought processes behind them, when I started thinking “oh bloody hell, I might as well give up doing art now” I then realised, job done!
Hopefully I did some good last night, it certainly made a break from sitting on my arse in from of the television for the umpteenth evening in a row drawing.