We Would Like To Welcome Jade Bryant as ASLI’s Newest Team Member

Welcome Jade Bryant as ASLI’s Newest Team Member

 

Jade Bryant
Jade Bryant

We are excited to announce that we have a NEW member of the ASLI team.

Jade Bryant is now our ASLI Arts and Mental Health Campaigner and Feature Writer

Jade’s role includes:

  • To design and write at least one feature blog a month for our ASLI Magazine on: the arts and mental health.
  • Campaigning for the use of art to help those with mental illness, petitioning our government, engaging with the online community on how to get involved with ASLI.
  • Creating projects to help people engage in artistic and creative outlets to aid understanding and communication of mental health.
  • Enlisting artists from all disciplines to: engage with ASLI, to be involved in campaigns, to contribute to the ASLI Magazine and to be in pop up exhibitions.
  • General fundraising.

Some of you may recognise Jade from our last campaign “Mental Illness, Health and Recovery” where we learnt that Jade uses visual art and creative writing to help in her recovery with mental illness.

Here is Jades interview with ASLI:

Artist Jade Bryant is fiercely tackling her mental illness with art and in the process is changing the world’s awareness of Borderline Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Jade is a visual artist and creative writer from Devon. She has previously studied Film and Television Studies, Art and English. While not having been able to complete her degree due to mental health issues, she hopes that from this, she will eventually be able to begin a career within the mental health sector, and help other people who are in similar situations.

Jade believes that art is one of the most effective methods of medication when it comes to releasing emotions that can often be difficult to deal with when you suffer with mental health issues. Jade has a dual diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder and uses her art as a means of release and healing.
Jade hopes that by expressing issues she is passionate about such as, mental health, anti-war, equality, anti-capitalism, domestic abuse, animal cruelty and other such issues, she can create less stigma and a more healthy, truthful awareness of such issues.
Jade met Charlotte through an online group for BPD Support and has followed her art and ASLI ever since. She says that Charlotte has been and still is an integral part of her recovery, and having the opportunity to end stigma and raise awareness for such important issues through such an amazing charity is truly an honour.”
ASLI TEAM MEMBERS
ASLI TEAM MEMBERS

At ASLI we could not be more delighted that Jade has joined our team, a truly talented and enigmatic person, with an abundance of empathy and a determined mind to create a positive change within mental health and the arts.

If you would like to know more about Jade and her work please follow these links below:

Website

Art Portfolio

Writing Portfolio and Blog

Facebook 

Twitter

 

ASLI Team Member Jade Bryant

New ASLI Poster by Charlotte Farhan

Look at one of our new Art Saves Lives International posters which MD Charlotte Farhan painted then designed.

For now this artwork will be featured on our  websites and social media pages but as from next year will be available as postcards, greeting cards and posters to buy from our ASLI Store – coming soon!! ‪#‎artsaveslivesinternational‬

We will also be launching a competition to have your art and designs featured on our stuff and in our store!! As well as a call for artists to sell their items via our store. Lots of exciting stuff to be announced next year! We shall keep you posted!

Dance ASLI by Charlotte Farhan

Artwork by Charlotte Farhan

 

 

Congratulations to our Team Member Lisa Reeve on Getting a job with Solent Mind Portsmouth Support & Recovery Service

Congratulations to our Team Member

Lisa Reeve on Getting a job

with Solent Mind

Portsmouth Support & Recovery Service

Lisa Reeve

Lisa is now part of the Solent Mind Portsmouth Support & Recovery Service and will be facilitating sessions and programmes at the Solent Recovery College (SRC), Highbury College. As a Peer Support Worker.

As a Photographer, Visual Artist, SFX Make-up Artist, Animal Rights Activist, Mental Health Campaigner and our Artistic Projects and Campaign Director you may be thinking, what can’t Lisa do? Well in our humble opinion Lisa can do anything she sets her mind to and has the full support of ASLI.

Lisa will facilitate training sessions for people with mental health problems.

lisa reeveAs well as their family, carers and friends, together with workers from Solent NHS Adult Mental Health.

The programmes cover three themes

• Understanding recovery

• Developing knowledge and skills

• Moving forward

 

Lisa’s Main Responsibilities:

• Working alongside colleagues from Solent NHS AMH to deliver an agreed programme of recovery focussed learning

• To help student learners mange their own recovery and help them set learning goals

• To model personal responsibility, self-awareness, self-belief, self-advocacy and hopefulness

• Through the learning programme draw on the lived mental health experience and expertise of students as a way of increasing awareness of recovery

• To offer individual learners opportunities to discuss personal recovery goals, both short and long term

• To signpost learners to other services when appropriate to meet their recovery goals, including encouraging learners to use learning credits gained at SRC as a stepping stone to further study or vocational training.

• To support learners to identify and overcome fears about learning within a relationship of empathy and trust

• To create and maintain professional supportive relationships with all members of staff, with other professionals and agencies to enhance recovery.

• To provide peer support if and when needed on an ad hoc basis.

• To record all contacts with learners in the case notes and on appropriate electronic customer recoding systems like RIO system if required

• To support colleagues in promoting a recovery orientated environment by identifying recovery focused learning activities

• To ensure attendance at all Solent Mind essential training

• To participate in group or individual supervision, appraisal and performance development and identify own development needs, acting as an effective Recovery and team member

• Maintain a working knowledge of current trends in mental health, recovery and peer support

• To contribute to the ongoing development of the Portsmouth Recovery and Support service • Work within Solent Mind policies and procedures • All employees have a duty and responsibility for their own health and safety and the health of safety of colleagues, patients and the general public.

Lisa Reeve

We are so proud of Lisa and for her ability to use her own mental health issues to help others and for her strength in taking on this challenge. We also think this is a perfect time to announce this job success as it is still our ongoing mental health campaign at the moment!

Lisa Reeve

 

The skills which Lisa will also acquire further skills in this role which will better serve ASLI in our understanding of mental health services and support in the UK, to better assist our ASLI artists who suffer from mental illness and our team members. So please join us in celebrating this achievement that is so well deserved by Lisa and if you would like to get in contact with Lisa, to congratulate her personally or to find out more please follow these links:

Lisa’s Website 

Like Lisa’s Facebook Page

Follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaReeveArt

Follow Lisa on Instagram

Lisa Reeve

 

 

 

WANTED!! Bloggers to write for our blog – Recruiting Now! Interested in being a monthly guest blogger?

Would you be interested in being a monthly guest blogger?

With your very own blog as part of ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL?

 

ASLI QUOTE

 

We are looking for enthusiastic, creative and compassionate people to join our team as monthly guest bloggers/feature writers. We want you to be an author on our website with your own login, author name and in charge of your very own blog on the following subjects (listed below) with the artistic freedom to make it your own! If you think this opportunity is something you may be interested in, keep reading…

Remember when we say ART we mean all artistic expression, visual art, photography, creative writing, dance, theatre, film, poetry, music, crafts, anything under the umbrella of “the arts”.art quote ASLI

The blogger topics we are looking for are:
Reviewers and Critics of the following subjects:
A music reviewer
A visual art reviewer
A poetry reviewer
A film reviewer
A photography reviewer
A theatre reviewer
A dance reviewer
A literature reviewer
We would want you to review at least 4 artists in your chosen category each month, they would need to be representative, inclusive, in-keeping with our mission and inspiring. You will need to interview artists you are reviewing via email, phone, skype or in person.
Local Artist (Portsmouth/Southampton areas) reviewer 
This would be either for both areas or we could have two bloggers for the separate areas. We would want you to review local artists from all artistic disciplines, abilities and would need these artists to be interviewed and reviewed.
Women in art 
A blog about women in all artistic disciplines from all over the world, showing women using art and creativity to better women’s rights and the world we live in.
Men in art
A blog about men in all artistic disciplines from all over the world, showing men using art and creativity to better men’s rights and issues and the world we live in.
Save the world with art
This would be for the eco-warrior blogger, we want you to talk about the issues facing our planet, what can be done about it and artists of all disciplines who use their art to educate and engage others about this issue.
Animal Rights and Activism through art
This is for the animal lover, campaigner and activist. We want you to discuss how we can all (not just vegans and vegetarians) become cruelty free, more aware of animal rights and what animals face in the world today and find artists discussing this through their artistic expression.
Art Therapist Blog
We are looking for art therapists and creative therapists who can discuss the benefits of art for better mental and physical health, with exercises, tips and guidance as well as all the latest news in this area.
Art as Activism
We want a blog which simply finds all manner of artists who use their art as activism to better the world in any
way.
Political and Satirical Art: Comment on the world
We would like a blog written about current political issues around the world and the artists that use their artistic expression to inform, educate, engage and express this.
Comic strip artist
We would love a few comic strip artists to create a specific comic strip for ASLI
Artist Tips and techniques
We would love artists who would like to blog about their skills and techniques used to create art. In a kind of how to or workshop style, this can also be a vlog (video log) which can show a demonstration on a specific skill, such as photography, pottery, painting, drawing, journalling… If its creative we want to learn how to do it!
Art Journalling
We would like to types of art journalling blogs, one by an artist who would share their art journal and progress and secondly a “how to” art jornal blog, with tips and ideas on how to journal with art.
Your countries art scene
As we have a large international following from all over the world we would love people who are from countries other than Britain to blog and write articles about their own local art scene in their country. We would also like bloggers in other languages too, so we can share your blog with our English speaking followers and engage NEW followers from your country.
ASLI QUOTE
We would send you an authors invite to our website/blog and then we would pick a date you publish on each month and this would be your deadline, then you can upload it and publish it yourself on our blog.
You can then link your own stuff, such as website and social media links to our site.
This is obviously a great opportunity and great for the CV, especially if you are a budding blogger, journalist or just love writing and wish to make this into a career.
As a non-profit organisation this would be a non-paid voluntary position.
But with our large following, subscribers and supporters you would have a keen audience.

How to apply for this position:

  • Send us an original article or blog post you have written before and then a second article/blog post about the chosen subject you wish to be a guest blogger for.
  • Send us any links to your websites, published works and social media sites
  • Tell us why you wish to be involved with us and our mission (no more than 100 words)
  • Tell us a date within a 30 day month that you wish to have as your deadline and publishing date
  • Send us a relevant CV
  • Send everything to MD/Editor and chief Charlotte Farhan at artsaveslivesinternational@gmail.com
  • Set up a wordpress account and send us your username so we can invite you as an author if we choose you. (if you do not have a wordpress account this is OK, we can still consider you, but you will have to be published though one of us (ASLI team members) as you will not be able to have your own log in)

ASLI QUOTE

We look forward to receiving your applications and thank you for engaging in our mission and aim.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask?

Also please share this with anyone you feel would like to get involved.

Create Change and remember art saves lives! 

 

 

 

We love our Supporters! Show us your support #artsaveslivesinternational

Some of the team and our amazing supporters!

 

Do you support Art Saves Lives International‬ ?
Show your support by creating an image like this with our hash-tag

#‎ArtSavesLivesInternational

and we will add you to our gallery

Thank you

ASLI’s Mental Health Awareness Fair and Event – The low-down

 

ASLI’s Mental Health Awareness Fair and Event 

The low-down

 

ASLI Info graphic

On Saturday the 30th of May ASLI had a fabulous day of engaging with our local community and our event was a great success. The whole premiss of our day was to raise awareness about our campaign MENTAL ILLNESS, HEALTH AND RECOVERY, to showcase some local artists who use their art to deal with their own mental health struggles, to give back to the community by having a FREE table-top sale and swap shop and by inviting local crafters and artisans to sell their beautiful creations along side us in solidarity. Oh and how could we forget CAKE, there was lots of cake!

The ASLI team and our ASLI volunteers pulled together so that our guests as well as ourselves, enjoyed a day of positive engagement and community.

See our Gallery of all the event photos – Click Here!!

 

We would like to thank:

The Oasis Centre – Not only was the centre and amazing venue, the staff were so accommodating and supportive. They gave us the entire venue for free, we asked if we could donate to their chosen charity and they chose a local animal sanctuary.

The Exhibiting Artists – Louise Tomkinson, Michelle Morgan, Chris WebbPhilippa Newman , Andreea Stan, Lisa Reeve and Charlotte Farhan

Our Stall Holders – Lisa TaylorJames WaterfieldPaul Brian, Philippa Newman, Debra Carter and Emily Murphy

We will be featuring all these amazing people and their talents in separate blog posts so keep an eye out!

PhototasticCollage-2015-05-29-12-14-07

We made lots of amazing connections with our local community, including mental health charities and art projects and communities! We will be building on these connection in the coming month, more details to follow…

Plus we had lots of local artists sign up to get involved as well as local residents signing up to our blog and newsletter.

All in all a very happy event! And to top it off we raised just under £200 for ASLI to continue to do what it does best, using art as a tool to create change and save lives.

Be sure to check out:

  • our Gallery of event photos taken by our two ASLI photographers Lisa Reeve,  Charlotte Farhan and Iain Turrell
  • our gallery of our exhibition on mental health and artists in Portsmouth at the event
  • our shout outs to our craft and art stall holders

Thank you xxx

ASLI INFO GRAPHIC By Charlotte Farhan

 

 

 

The Mental Illness, Health and Recovery ASLI Event in Pictures

The Mental Illness, Health and Recovery

ASLI Event and Fair

in Pictures

Gallery 1 Photography By Iain Turrell

 

 

Gallery 2 Photography By Lisa Reeve

 

 

Gallery 3 Photography By Charlotte Farhan

Art Saves Lives International’s Mental Health Awareness Fair and Event in Portsmouth UK

Art Saves Lives International’s

Mental Health Awareness Fair and Event

On the 30th of May at The Oasis Centre in Portsmouth open between 11am and 4pm 

PhototasticCollage-2015-05-13-11-18-24

Art Saves Lives International would like you all to come along for a fun and important day in aid of Mental Health Awareness for our campaign Mental Illness, Health and Recovery.

This will be an engaging event spread across 3 rooms at the wonderful Oasis the Venue in Portsmouth city centre.

First room: There will be a art exhibition by artists affected by mental illness

Second Room: A performance stage with live acts and with art and crafts stalls from local artists

Third room: A swap shop, Cake sale and refreshment stand

So plenty to do, see and engage with!

The event is raising money for the non-profit organisation Art Saves Lives International to aid in their projects, events, mentoring of artists, campaigns and to help continue the important mission of creating change through art in all its forms.

Admission is a donation of your choice (suggested donation £1)

Bring a bag of items for the swap shop to then fill your bag back up with fab “new” items

Gallery exhibition is Free and Performances are free

Money taken at art and crafts stalls goes to the artists

See our last campaign “celebration of women” please visit our ASLI Magazine

If you are a local artist in the Portsmouth/Southampton areas and want to get involved there is still some room for craft stall holders, performances and we are always looking for volunteers get in touch with us at artsaveslivesinternational@gmail.com

PhototasticCollage-2015-05-13-10-52-26
 Check out the amazing venue which has been given to us for the day for free! Please support them and give them a like on their Facebook Page 
logo
We will be announcing all the amazing artists and acts later this week!
So to keep up-to-date why not subscribe to our blog.
Thank you.

Artists Wanted for Portsmouth Event – Raising awareness for Mental Health

Artists Wanted for Portsmouth Event

Raising awareness for Mental Health

 

ASLI are holding an event on the 30th of May in Portsmouth, UK, at The Oasis Centre  

On Saturday – 11.00am – 4.00pm

Our Event is in aid of our campaign to raise awareness about Mental illness, health and recovery please follow this link to see more details.

We are looking for local artists, performers, musicians, comedians, dancers, art/craft stall owners and anyone who wishes to be involved with our organisation, campaign and event.

The event is going to be held over 3 rooms:

  • A swap shop and refreshments room
  • A gallery space for visual arts
  • An auditorium with stage for performances and stall holders

 

If you are interested please contact either:

Charlotte Farhan – artsaveslivesinternational@gmail.com

Lisa Reeve – lisareeveasli@gmail.com

 

 

 

Art, Mental Illness, Health and Recovery – Worldwide Call for Artists

HOW TO GET INVOLVED…

 

We are looking for artists and creatives from all disciplines from all over the world to be featured:

  • In our second issue of the ASLI Magazine
  • On our ASLI Blog
  • To be a guest blogger or feature writer
  • To get involved with our local event (UK Only)
  • To be featured in our on-line gallery
  • To raise awareness for ASLI in your local and worldwide communities.

As usual we want artists from the wide spectrum of “the arts”. Such as poetry, creative writing, dance, theatre, film, documentary, music, visual arts, photography, comedy, blogging, comic/graphic novels, crafts, fashion, textiles…. If it is creative we are interested.

We would like you to contribute submissions from these chosen topics:

  • Mental illness and your personal story
  • Stigma
  • Stereotypes about mental illness
  • Art and creative therapies
  • Highlighting specific psychiatric illnesses
  • Achieving mental health
  • Recovery
  • Medication and Treatment
  • Politics, society and mental illness

Also we would like to raise awareness for particular mental illness awareness months and weeks during the time period of our campaign:

Submission Guide Lines:

  • Please submit ONE piece of work for consideration (if you submit more than one we will look at your first one and choose you according to this)
  • This call out is open to: both men and women, all ages, worldwide and all abilities
  • State your artistic discipline/medium and chosen topic (If you submit outside the topics requested we will not be able to accept your submission at this time)
  • Please read about us first, see if you want to be part of our mission and make sure you understand who we are what we are about.
  • Do not just email a link (we will not follow it)
  • Remember we are a non-profit organisation
  • If you wish to submit in another language other than English we accept untranslated work in French and Arabic, all other languages must have an English translation attached.
  • If submitting creative writing please do not submit over 500 words and if your piece is longer submit a 500 word abstract
  • State if you are submitting to be: featured in on our ASLI Magazine or ASLI Blog, to be a guest blogger or feature writer, our on-line gallery, you wish to raise awareness for our campaign in your local area, want to fundraising, be involved with our local events (UK only – Portsmouth Based)
  • If you have any queries please contact artsaveslivesinternationl@gmail.com (we aim to get back to you within 48 hours depending on volume of submissions)

Submission Deadlines:

ASLI Magazine or ASLI Blog – submit by Monday the 15th of June

Guest feature writers and Bloggers – submit by Friday the 5th of June

To be featured in our on-line gallery – Open until the 5th of August

To raise awareness for ASLI in your local and worldwide communities – Open until the 5th of August

Being involved in our on-line campaign – Open until the 5th of August

Selection process:

We divide the entries into categories regarding the artistic discipline first such as; Visual art, photography, Performing art/Dance, Film/Documentary, Poetry, Creative Writing, Music…..

Each category is given to an ASLI team member and they then look at the submission criteria and divide your submissions further into the topics.

A select amount is chosen from each topic

And we try to be as representative as possible with our global range of submissions

Be part of the campaign on-line, get involved!!

Tweet us @ASLInonprofit :

Your images and videos of your work add #artsaveslivesinternational

If art has saved your life or you think art saves lives share your selfies telling us using these hash tags #ArtsSavesLives #ArtSavedMyLife #SupportASLI #artsaveslivesinternational

Or you can do this on Instagram the hashtags @artsaveslivesint

Look at all the artist who share with us on Instagram using our hashtag#artsaveslivesinternational 

We will then add you to our campaign gallery and share your involvement with our global audience making you part of the mission

Check out our #artsaveslivesinternational Gallery on our website

Take a look at last month’s:

ASLI Magazine

ASLI Blog

Issue One Campaign Gallery

 We can’t wait to engage with you all!

ASLI Quotes

Poet Laura Taylor “If I can use my own hard times to make art, and share that widely, then that multiplies the cohesion, makes us all stronger”

Poet Laura Taylor “If I can use my own hard times to make art, and share that widely, then that multiplies the cohesion, makes us all stronger”.

 

Laura Taylor
Laura Taylor

 

Laura Taylor, 47, St Helens, Merseyside, UK.

Laura is from a village called Rainhill, which is located in between St Helens and Liverpool. Having been born into a working-class family Laura has retained the values of that upbringing. Material gain is not a high priority – happiness, harmony, love and equality are.  Laura identifies herself as a Socialist, a feminist, and says she has challenged arbitrary forms of authority all her life.  

I do not believe in hierarchies. I have no ‘art background’ as such, I’ve never studied creative writing.  I just started writing poetry in 2010 for the first time.

What motivated you to deal with the subject of writing for revolution/unsolicited advice in your art?

Write for Revolution’ was about seeing a female poet perform, and being so emotionally overwhelmed by her words that I went away from that experience thinking that I had things to say, too.

The poem starts with dancing alone, and ends with ‘and now there’s more of us’, writing our lives for whoever is reading/listening, and connecting with them.  When I get up on a stage to share my experiences in the form of poetry, I know from experience that there will be other women who will identify with it, and they will feel less isolated as a result.   

‘Unsolicited’ is based on all the unwanted and unasked-for ‘advice’ that I’ve received over the years on what it is to be a woman – or rather, a ‘lady’.  It basically amounts to a list of things you can and cannot do – mainly the latter. Everything in that poem is based on true events in my life.  I have spent long periods as a single parent, and know what it is to be demonised by the media and the government.

I am acutely aware that as women age, opportunities close down. In my life, there are jobs I’ve not been allowed to do, behaviour that I have been strongly discouraged from; I’ve felt the weight of societal disapproval for just being me and it’s suffocating.

Tell us why you chose this submission?

I have performed both poems many times, and without fail, I have had women laughing, nodding their heads in recognition, and thanking me for articulating their own experiences.  If I can use my own hard times to make art, and share that widely, then that multiplies the cohesion, makes us all stronger.


 

Write for Revolution  

We danced alone on wooden floors.

Volunteers making noise.

In later days, I heard that you had

swallowed lumps for breakfast.

 

I sat in darkness, closing throat.

Felt my own lumps swimming up.

Listening and wondering

of spun-out olive branches.

 

I went away and thought about

all the sorrow, all the fear,

all the tears we’d shed so far

and wondered,

could I help?

 

Could I stand up to make a change?

To help one woman in the world

feel less alone, less isolated.

Could I?

Well…

 

I tried.

I wrote.

I told about

 

little girls

and bruises,

loneliness and solitude,

rapture and revulsion,

teenage isolation.

Violence, injustice;

politricks, hypocrisy.

Endless fights

for equal rights;

kissing girls and

loving christ.

 

And now there’s more of us.

Northern girls with tales to tell.

We reap and sow the seeds of change

and write our lives for you.

 

We write

for revolution.


Unsolicited (1968 – 2015)

 

You’re Not Allowed

 

to cry,

in here,

this room, this bar,

a pint, on deck,

to fight or sulk,

or answer back,

to join the local snooker team,

to bare your legs

or armpit hair,

express yourself

or sleep around,

to shout or swear,

to wear short skirts,

to wear short hair

 

Grow it, tie it, perm it, dye it, never cut it short

 

to be the boss,

come more than once,

to suit yourself,

to wank, to sweat,

to smell, or fart,

to bleed,

release a stream of pee

outside of

chambered secrecy,

be clever, proud,

sarcastic, loud,

tell dirty jokes or pick your nose

 

That’s not very ladylike

 

to flirt, to age,

to speak your mind,

to even show your knicker line,

bring up a child

all on your own,

expose your breasts,

express your milk

so publicly,

to smoke, get drunk,

get up the duff

without a band of gold.

 

Single mothers are to blame for all the world’s depravity

 

UNSOLICITED!

 


Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

Purely by accident. As mentioned, it was the experience of another woman’s poetry that spurred me to write my own.  I’d never really read any before, and thought I didn’t like it. Thought it was elitist, and ‘not for the likes of me’. It’s hugely addictive though! And I’ve discovered that it’s the perfect art form for me.

What is your process when creating?

I’ll start with a word, a phrase, a memory or a feeling that sparks in my mind. Sometimes that can be just out of the blue, sometimes I’ll deliberately set out to write about something that I feel strongly about, or wish to express.  I will then just sit and type out as many associations with that as possible.  Just let it flow, don’t even think about shaping it. It’s important to squeeze every last drop of what you think, how you think, how you feel, and how you can possibly express that.

Sometimes I’ll do a little research about ideas or words in the poem, which can then sometimes completely change the course of it!  Then I read through the notes and associations, mull it all over, leave for a few days.  Then and only then do I start to structure the poem.  The title is almost always the last thing to be written.  

I will work on the poem a little bit each day, working towards that sweet moment when it just ‘feels right’. When I get a feeling inside that this is the most perfect way to express how I feel.

I can spend ridiculous amounts of time worrying about punctuation too! Because it matters. Every single thing in there – each word, line break, spelling, grammar, punctuation, flow – everything counts in a poem. It’s a condensed piece of writing, a means of communication, so it all matters.  I will spend a lot of time editing, and be quite severe with myself. Then I show my poems to my partner, who is a wonderfully supportive constructive critic and will, without fail, pick up on any tiny thing that I think may need changing.

This is the usual process. Every now and again though, a rare delight will happen and a poem will plop onto the page almost perfectly formed!

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

I can honestly say that I have not been influenced by any poet or poem, as such. I don’t write like anyone else or attempt to emulate styles. I didn’t read poetry, didn’t think I would like it, thought it was not for me. As for inspiration – that initial time seeing the female poet perform. That’s what kicked all this off.

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

Feminism is really quite simple – it is just about being fair, and everyone being treated equally, regardless of sex or gender. There are lots of strands of feminism, with differing ideas about the roots of female oppression and various resolutions to that, but ultimately it’s about fairness and equality. Yes indeed, I do consider myself a feminist. I am not a separatist, I simply want to be treated as an equal. Whilst I recognise that men too are manipulated and shaped by our culture, still to this day women are not treated equally, and so I will continue calling myself a feminist until we are.  It would be lovely not to have to, not to have the same arguments, the same struggles, over and over and over again, but the plain truth is that we do.

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

I was intrigued by the theme of your call-out for art in celebration of women, and identify strongly with the emphasis on giving voice to the silenced.

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?

I don’t think women can win either way to be honest! You can conform, you may gain approval, but will that mean you are taken seriously? No, not in my experience.  It just allows for more opportunities for continued oppression. Conform and you will be treated as the type of person society thinks you should be, ie, passive, submissive, and second-class; more concerned with minutiae than the state of the world. Rebel and you’ll be a ‘troublemaker’, or worse. All you can ever do is keep yourself strong inside and out, and stay true to yourself and your beliefs. Educate yourself, keep your own counsel, and connect with others. Strive for equality.

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?

No. 

Yes, I realised very early on that men and women were absolutely not treated equally. I was constantly reminded that my behaviour and clothing were ‘unladylike’, that there were a whole raft of petty rules that only applied to me and not the boys around me.  

When I was growing up, I was told in no uncertain terms that I should not try to get the job I wanted, as a long-distance lorry driver, because I would be ostracised and given a hard time by the male truckers. I wanted to join the Royal Navy to travel the world like my Dad had done, but was told that women were not allowed on board ships – I could have a ‘nice office job’ in Germany if I wanted to travel. Constantly asked who I was going to marry when I grew up – not ‘was I interested in the idea of marriage’, just presented with that assumption, aged 5!  I was not allowed to join the local pool team because I was female, despite being as good as the other players. I was refused drinks served in a pint glass and given two half glasses instead. I have been asked if I was pregnant in job interviews and whether I planned to get married.  

I have been physically intimidated in working situations, disregarded in others in favour of a male colleague, and inappropriate and offensive suggestions made to me by male colleagues and bosses. I have been inappropriately touched on countless occasions – this is still considered ‘normal’ behaviour by many in our society.  

I have been told how to dress, what to wear, how to wear my hair, what to put on my face, how to sit, walk, speak, and what to say/not to say.  I am often referred to as ‘feisty’ – a term only applied to women with strong beliefs, never men.

There are lots of (derogatory) words for women that have no male equivalent.  I see double standards and inequality etched into the very core of our society.

I continue to experience casual sexism on a depressingly regular basis, with the odd high-impact encounter.  And that’s the tip of the iceberg, in the Western world only.  I am painfully aware that for women in other parts of the world, life is so very much more unequal, difficult,  oppressive, and in many cases physically dangerous and life-threatening.  

What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?

Domestic violence, Socialism, political apathy, social inequality.  I have recently joined the Green Party, as their policies are people-centred, striving for equality.  I’m committed to standing as a candidate for them in the upcoming local elections.

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?

It means connecting – people, thoughts, ideas. It means strength in unity. Art can do this and you don’t even have to be in the same room, never mind the same country. Once it is documented in some way it can then be shared.  As a deeply unhappy teenager, I found solace in the words and music of Janis Joplin. It felt like she was singing directly to me, for me, and expressing how I felt. In the pits of depression, I felt that I was not alone. And that’s a really common experience, in all art forms. That moment when the light-bulb flashes and we think “Oh! It’s not just me!”.  Humans are sociable beings – even when we’re introverted, we still thrive on a certain amount of contact, of identification with others. Art is a way of doing that.  

Music is invaluable in the care of people diagnosed with dementia. Research shows that the experience of listening to music stimulates all areas of the brain simultaneously. People who no longer communicate will smile, stand up, waltz around the room, loving the music, remembering words and melodies. It’s quite astonishing the impact this art form has on people’s lives.  

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

I perform my poems regularly, at various venues and locations, and I’ve been widely published – see my earlier comment about documenting art, so that it can be accessed by all. I write about a number of issues, and know from the reception of my performances that my words have touched people, made them think, feel, cry, laugh, get angry.  They have CONNECTED with them. I also know that I have inspired other people to start writing, or start writing AGAIN after a long break, raising their own issues, and sharing them with others to identify with.  Art creates unity, solidarity.  One of my poems about the effects of Thatcherism on our household was published in a magazine, the proceeds of which go to the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, which is working to get justice for miners who were the victims of police brutality, lies, and cover ups at Orgreave in 1984.  

Do I want art (mine or others’) to create change? Yes, absolutely I do.  It’s one of the best forms of awareness-raising that I know of – it creates change via this process. I believe the arts to be as essential to our understanding of the world as the history books, politics, and the media. Let BOTH sides speak, not just the side with power.

What are your goals as with your art?

To keep writing, keep performing, keep reaching out. To keep enjoying what I do, and to give pleasure and comfort to others. Simple as that.  It would be nice to scratch a living from it, but extremely unlikely!

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

I’m in touch with a publisher who is interested in publishing a collection of my poems next year, which is very exciting. I’m also working on publishing a book of ekphrastic poems with some friends.  One of them is a talented photographer, and 3 of us poets have been so inspired by his images we have been writing poems based on them. We’re hoping to bring out a quality ‘coffee table’ book of the poems and images, as well as an exhibition of them. We’re all from working-class communities – poetry wasn’t ‘for the likes of us’.  Except that it is, and more people like us need to know that.  

And is there anything you would like to add to your interview?

I believe that engaging with the creative outlet/s of your choice brings a wealth of benefits – mental stimulation and stability, pure joy in the incomparable experience of the creative process, the connection to other human beings.   

Art doesn’t ‘just’ save the lives of others, it can save your own too. The often-cathartic processes involved make it your very own personal therapy, and one which I wish everyone would try at least once.  

Bang a drum, pluck a string, sing a song, have a dance, write a verse, paint a picture, and enjoy.  And when you find something you love doing, that stokes your soul and makes you smile, just keep doing it.

 

If you would like to know more about Laura Taylor follow these links:

Profile

Facebook Page 

 

 

Meagan Flynn talks about her short film “High Bid” which addresses the issue of on-line virginity auctions

Meagan Flynn talks about her short film “High Bid” which addresses the issue of on-line virginity auctions.

 

Meagan Flynn
Meagan Flynn

 

Meagan Flynn, currently lives in the Kansas City area and grew up on a cattle ranch in south western Montana

It was an amazing way to grow up! Tons of family and the most beautiful part of the country.

Meagan has been doing theatre since she was a child.

I always wanted to be and actor and to work in film. After college I headed to Los Angeles to make that a reality.

What motivated you to deal with the subject of on-line virginity auctions in your art?

High Bid was actually inspired by a two true stories I’d heard. The first story I saw featured on Oprah of a young boy who was selling photos, videos and eventually himself through his home computer from his suburban bedroom. The second was the story of a young woman in Brazil who was actually selling her virginity on-line to the highest bidder. I believe it went for several hundred thousand dollars.

 

 

Tell us why you chose this submission?

I think this film is important because it’s something that is happening. The Internet is not a new world, but it is an infinite world that can be used for more things than I can even wrap my mind around. I also think the important thing about this film is that you don’t quite know how to feel about the story-are you outraged? Do you empathize with her? Are you upset with the mother? Are you upset with the daughter? What do you feel? I’m hoping it’s a piece that starts a conversation.

Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

I’m an actor and film-maker to the core. The visual medium of film has always been the art form that moved me the most and it’s where I feel that I can generate the most emotion from an audience. I still get my breath taken away all the time by films.

What is your process when creating?

I always say that I’m an idea person and then I have to find the talented people who can actually make it a reality. Honestly, I usually am struck by something in real life that gives me a spark of an idea and then I reach out to people more talented than myself to help me formulate and bring it to the screen.

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

I’m influenced by so many things. My family, my friends, my children, a person I have a casual interaction with one day. I think part of being a good film-maker and actor is being an observer of the world and the people in it. I can get inspired by the craziest things, so it’s more me making sure that I take the time to slow down and see what’s going on in the world in front of me.

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

Boy that’s become such a loaded word lately hasn’t it? If you say yes you are then you are pushing one agenda and if you say no I’m not then you are pushing another. I am a woman who believes in equal rights and opportunities for all people regardless of what categories they fit in, so whatever that makes me by definition I am.

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

I think because it’s true-art does save lives. I don’t know who or what I would be without art and artistic ways to express what’s inside me. I think there are so many people out there in the world who feel that way.

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously?Do you have any experiences of this?

Yes, I think that in 2015 there are expectations and limitations that are placed on women because of gender. I think that unfortunately in film women are highly under-represented, particularly behind the camera. I think we do have to work harder to be taken seriously and that we get fewer chances to make mistakes.

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?

I think it would be ignorant and arrogant for me to speak with expertise of any society in the world besides my own. That being said I think we are all aware that there are many societies  in this world where women are second class citizens. As far as America goes it depends on what you mean by equal. There is a pay gap still in this country between men and women. Do I think, however, that I have an equal shot at things like education compared to a man-yes? But does that mean all women in this country do, not necessarily.

What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?  

How much space do you have on your blog? There are so many things I am passionate about and love to work for! I am passionate about many causes including ending human trafficking, making sure that all children have access to food, decent living conditions and education, helping to advance equal rights for all people, helping mentor young people so that they can explore every opportunity they dream of, and keeping arts and music in our schools just to name a few.

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?

Art helps me cope, it helps me express and it keeps me sane. For me it is life-saving. I can’t imagine where I would be or how I would have gotten through dark times without having ways to express what’s inside of me.

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

I want my art to get people talking. I don’t care if people love it or hate it if my films get them talking, Google-ing, or researching a topic then I have done my job. I tell women’s stories so even if it’s a silly comedy that just makes people laugh, but they have watched and supported a female driven film I feel I’m doing something positive.

What are your goals as with your art?

To keep making it and to have the means to keep making it and to get better each time. I only hope each day that I can continue to act and create films for the rest of my life.

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

I’m extremely excited for my next project which is filming on April 4th. It’s a dramatic short film called Tipping Point that deals with the issue of sex trafficking in our American cities. It’s calling attention to the issue and the fact that it’s happening where you least expect it. We have received a couple grants and are actually still accepting donations at our IndieGoGo campaign. We are so excited to tell this story and hope we get a great response to the final film.

 

 

And is there anything you would like to add to your interview?

I’d really just like to thank you for featuring me and High Bid. I’m truly honoured! I love what you are doing and I am excited to be a part of it!

 

 

If you would like to know more about Meagan Flynn follow her links:

Website

IMDB

Smart Mouth Productions FB page

Twitter

Vimeo

Colleen Thomas “Dance is the most communicative art form that I know”

I have been dancing for 42 years, it is the most communicative art form that I know.

 

Colleen Thomas
Colleen Thomas

Colleen Thomas, 46, New York City.

Colleen Thomas is a New York based choreographer and performing artist. She began her professional career with the Miami Ballet and went on to work with renowned contemporary choreographers such as Nina Wiener Dance Company, Donald Byrd/The Group, Bebe Miller Dance Company, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and The Kevin Wynn Collection among others. In 1997 a creative collaboration with Bill Young evolved into a company focused on rigorous physicality and dynamic partnering. Their work has been seen throughout the U.S, Europe, Asia, and South America. Now interested in focusing on illuminating her vision of contemporary work, Thomas has formed ColleenThomasDance.  Thomas has presented her work in Hong Kong, Brazil, and Paris and in New York at Joyce Soho, Danspace Project, Dance New Amsterdam, Dance Theater Workshop, The Miller Theater, Danny K. Playhouse, and The Kumble Arts Center, as well as at Cal State Long Beach, University of Maryland, Connecticut College, Ursinus College, East Carolina University, and Minneapolis at the Ritz Theater, Southern Theater, and The New Guthrie.

Thomas received her BA in psychology from SUNY Empire State College and her MFA in Dance from University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. She is currently an Associate Professor of Professional Practice at Barnard College of Columbia University.

Here is our interview with Colleen:

What motivated you to deal with the subject of sexual discrimination in your art?

My recent work has taken a more political stance. It has become important for me to try to make a change in my small world through dance, rather than only communicating something personal or showing an abstract world on stage. I think it is my age and my children that make this so important to me at this point in my life.  In Her(e) Again Untitled the dancers and I were engulfed in the sexual discrimination cases that were being discussed all around the country. I usually create work in a very collaborative way with my dancers and there was no way to get around what was happening in our world at that point in time. We spoke about equality, societal pressures, fears, and other issues that relate to the female human condition. We put our voice, our experiences, and our politics on the stage in hopes of continuing the dialogue with audiences and finding some kind of justice and peace in our own world.

Tell us why you chose this submission?

I chose both my submissions because they deal with equality and the strong desire to be heard, understood, and valued as a human being.

Here is a link to the interview piece I made for Barnard/Columbia dances at NYLA. It was a work on the students that “subtly but powerfully tackled the issue of sexual assault” according to the writer of on our terms.

Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?

I chose dance long ago or it chose me if you believe Martha Graham. I have been dancing for 42 years. It is the most communicative art form that I know.  The body is universal and how we live in it so individual and fascinating to me that I will be studying it for the rest of my time on earth.

Watching a dancer express with their body can make an audience member deeply live through a similar experience. The gift of watching someone pick up another, or hold another, or even slowly place their hand on a shoulder speaks so much more loudly than saying the words, ”I will pick you up, hold you, comfort you…” Dance is action, more than just the words. Three-dimensional and visceral, it is immediate and in the moment. There is nothing but the experience then and there. Dance can be invaluable for any issue.

What is your process when creating?

I work very collaboratively. I want the dancers to feel valued and empowered, and as invested in the work as I am. I try to remember that its not about me, but that this process is about sharing, listening and giving so that we can create something from nothing.

I often begin with improvisation and movement research.  But, from there my process varies from piece to piece. I try not to repeat the same process twice. I have employed various inspirational impulses -from literature to contemporary visual art. The dialogue of artistic permission and restraint utilized in Lars von Trier’s documentary, The Five Obstructions, inspired one piece I made in 2009. The collaboration with my composer involved an experiment with control and authorship as we place deliberate roadblocks to each other’s creative choices. This trio (called Winning You With Words- this is how we fall), was created by manipulating the process derived from Von Trier’s exploration of mentor Jorgen Leth’s film “The Perfect Human.”

Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?

Strong, creative and kind human beings inspire me. Bold woman artists, poets, and visual designers such as Clarice Lispector and Valie Export inspired recent works I have created.  I am moved by the human condition- everything from struggle and peace to sexuality, gender, awkwardness, race, memory, loss, greed, acceptance, youth, age, politics, discrimination, corruption, rules, breaking the rules, birth, freedom….I am interested in how we experience this time on earth and how we deal with all that comes up.

What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

Feminism means gender equality. Human equality. Yes, I am a feminist.

What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?

When I was introduced to Art Saves Lives International your mission moved me. I believe art can change and save lives. I have seen dance touch people’s lives through performance, therapy, and in the classroom.

Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?

I feel lucky to be a woman and it is sometimes even empowering. But, women are easily objectified and women dancers even more so. Our culture -specifically American culture – knows so little about dance. Early on in my career I would get questions about whether I danced in a bar or on Broadway or whatever people associated with women and dance. There is such a limited knowledge and support for the art form in America that I have found I have to make a strong effort to educate and inspire a possible dance lover. Another challenge is this: It is documented widely that male dancers and choreographers in my field far more easily rise through the ranks, while woman who are often as talented get left behind. As there are more women in the field, the statistics are much better for a man working in dance. Women come up against and have to navigate through ageism, politics, and gender stereotypical prejudices that I don’t think men ever encounter. I have had to work to keep my voice strong as a choreographer. I think having children was a real wake up call for me; in particular having a girl. I want to model the feminine potential for her. That said, I still think women have to work twice as hard to accomplish what they want.

Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?

No. Woman and men are not equal. We see horrific, unacceptable, extreme cases of this inequality all over the world.

I’m lucky to have been born into my situation. I choose to live in New York City where I believe issues of discrimination- gender, sexual, and racial are not as overt as other parts of America. But, inequality is still prevalent here. I experience it in the dance world, in academia, and in everyday life.

What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?

Art has saved my life many times. Art makes you experience the world more fully and in multiple ways.  It can be as simple as helping someone see a different perspective or point of view or as complex as building new synapses and connections for movement in the brain.

How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?

I have only recently felt the strong desire to bring about greater change with my work.  I have always been interested in considering and connecting with my audience with my work.  But as I get older and raise my children, I feel a new motivation to speak directly and connect more deeply to the audience in the work I create, as well as through activities such as community work, post-show talks, and open workshops.

What are your goals as with your art?

I want to move – whether it is subtly or grand- the audience and I want to be moved by the experience of the collaboration with everyone involved.

What is your next project or piece that you are working on?

My next work is a continuation of the questions that I have only begun to address in Her(e).  I’m interested to further address how women are objectified and how we move/struggle with and through obstacles placed in our paths as well as unconscious constraints already set in place.

When I began this research, I was looking at it from a white female perspective and honestly focusing on white male privilege.  It has become important to me at this point in the work to look at the African American male and how he is similarly objectified in a much different way.

Connect with Colleen Thomas:

http://www.colleenthomasdance.com/

https://vimeo.com/colleenthomas

 

Release date for ASLI’s first ever E-magazine

Don’t forget to look out on the 7th of April for ASLI’s first ever E-magazine issue featuring artists from all over the world who through their art communicate important issues.

This issue is focused on women around the world as it was launched in aid of International women’s day.

ASLI E-MAGAZINE

All artists who were sent a confirmation that they will be in the E-magazine will be sent a link to the magazine on the 7th of April

 

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If you are an artist of any ability or discipline please subscribe to this blog so you can get the quarterly call for artists for the E-magazine, blog features and international art project opportunities.

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Here are ways to connect with us and stay up to date

Facebook Page

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ASLI ART PROJECT IN COLLABORATION WITH BURSLEDON HOUSE

Art Saves Lives International is excited to announce its first collaboration and art project with the young residents and staff at Bursledon House Hospital in Southampton, UK. The project was inspired by ASLI’s Charlotte Farhan. She is now leading the project, helped by our talented Artist in Residence, Lisa Reeve.

Bursledon House provides a lifeline to young kids and teenagers with severe, complex and chronic medical problems. Using a caringly structured programme of treatment in a relaxed, non-medical setting, Bursledom House supports, cares for and manages the treatment of its vulnerable young residents (aged 0-16). The NHS-run organisation places paramount importance on residents’ physical, psychological, educational and social needs.

ASLI has been invited by Bursledon House to perform an inclusive and inspirational art project with its young residents. ASLI Artistic Director Charlotte Farhan and ASLI Artist in Residence Lisa Reeve were inspired to perform this project due to their own personal struggles with mental illness. They believe art has played a restorative, vitally important role in helping them manage Borderline Personality Disorder.

For Charlotte, this project is especially close to her heart. At the tender age of fifteen, Charlotte was placed in an adolescent psychiatric unit and attended a residential school in an NHS governed centre similar to Bursledon House. She remembers how scary this chaotic period of her life was for her, and how school was the last thing on her mind.

But institutions like Bursledon House are essential in providing structure and routine for sick and vulnerable young children and adolescents during a difficult, traumatic time of great need. Charlotte found being able to still attend art, English and History classes a real release from her daily treatment. She relished the opportunity to learn these subjects, which provided relief and inspiration, instead of purely focussing on continuously feeling unwell.

This ASLI project promotes holistic creative healing through art therapy. Each child is being encouraged and motivated to produce their very own ‘Personality Portrait’: an abstract style of portrait that reflects the inner core of a person: their energy, vitality and individuality, which forms their root personality, based on experience, fears and desires. Celebrating individuality is especially important for children who have perhaps already identified themselves as “sick children”. Art therapy takes children outside of their comfort zones and transient realities, helping them shape the futures they want.

As a skilled SFX make-up artist and photographer, Lisa is also relishing painting the children’s faces for drama, poetry and dance performances, as the photographs below beautifully illustrate.

The project, lasting several months, is leading to a public exhibition of the children’s personality portraits in July 2014. Charlotte also intends to create a large mural painting at the hospital and Lisa will create a storyboard of photography documenting the entire experience. The exhibition will include talks about the work of Bursledon House and ASLI. We also hope to have a band, spoken word artists and an art auction.

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BURSLEDON BLOG: PART ONE

As ASLI artists Charlotte and Lisa arrived at Bursledon House, both were nervous and eager to make a good impression. They first met with one of the teachers, Holly. Her warmth, empathy and enthusiasm instantly made our artists feel at home and welcomed to the Bursledon family.

After meeting most of the staff, including teachers and nurses, the young residents trickled into the classroom to greet Lisa and Charlotte. They played an introduction circle game involving a ball. Charlotte and Lisa, who both share Borderline Personality Disorder, frequently struggle with social situations like this. But in Bursledon’s supportive environment and inspired by the bravery of the young people they met, Charlotte and Lisa were able to quickly overcome these fears and felt very privileged and grateful for the opportunity to be there.

Next, they visited the hemodialysis ward and met an inspirational young girl who was a keen artist herself. Charlotte and Lisa sat with her for a while and discussed her interests. The girl was delighted to hear about Charlotte and Lisa’s reason for being there and how she had an opportunity to create her own portrait. When they mentioned her work would be included in a gallery exhibition, the young girl’s elation was overwhelmingly moving.

As the visit drew to a close, Charlotte and Lisa were sad to leave, but excited to get the next stage of the project underway.

 

BLOG: PART TWO – THE PROJECT BEGINS!

During Charlotte and Lisa’s subsequent visit to Bursledon House, they explained the concept of a personality portrait, providing examples. Artists have always been fascinated by the concept of creating self-portraits as a means of better understanding themselves – the fusion of the outer and inner self. Our artists stressed to the children that there is no right or wrong when it comes to art. Art is THEIR opportunity for self-expression. Charlotte had also pre-compiled a list of thought-provoking questions to encourage the children to focus on their individuality and inspire them creatively with their own personality portraits:

1. List your 4 favourite colours and any colours you dislike. Ask yourself why you picked these colours?

2. Consider your best and your worst features – and why?

3. How would you describe yourself in two sentences?

4. Who are your idols and what do you admire about them?

5. What is your favourite style? What do you like in design, fashion, décor and graphics, what visually stimulates you?

6. Pick 3 (of each) representing you: animals, places in the world, food and books.

7. What are your passions and hobbies in life?

8. What are your fears and dreams?

9. When was your best day and worst day, what happened?

10. How do you think others see you, and how is it different to how you see yourself?

 

“In self-portraiture the artist does not have to be concerned about pleasing anyone but him or herself. Self-portraits can allow the artist to be open and receptive to the self, which is an important component of therapeutic growth.”

–Professor Simone Alter-Muri

By now, the children were utterly engaged and very eager to get started. Creativity flowed out of them and their ideas were incredibly powerful.

Finlay (6), the youngest in the group, was movingly frank. When asked why he had drawn a face with tears, he simply answered, “It is because I am very sensitive.” This kind of honesty was refreshing and insightful.

Charlotte sat with a young girl called Bethany (11). Wise beyond her years, Bethany displayed a determination that could take her wherever she wishes to go in the future. She told Charlotte, “I want to draw a light bulb above my head, because I love to think and question things. I love science, I also love art and thunderstorms.”

It’s important when doing this kind of exercise to analyse why we represent ourselves the way we do. Charlotte encouraged these ideas and spoke to Bethany about why she enjoyed these things.

Lisa spoke to a boy called Travis (13). She helped him to identify his own emotions related to the answers he gave on his personality portrait questionnaire. This helped him to generate fresh ideas and use them for artistic inspiration.

The children were also encouraged to produce a piece of creative writing to accompany their portraits during the exhibition. It’s while doing this that they can truly unravel and explore the emotions that form their individual core identities – the human beings behind the masks.

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Lisa Reeve is one of ASLI’s first artists in residence. ASLI’s Bursledon House collaboration was her first art residency project and she handled it admirably. This is what Lisa had to say on her experience:

“I am so proud to be working with ASLI. Not only is it a wonderful way to support and inspire a diverse variety of people and children to be creative, art can also help with emotional healing. I myself struggle with social anxiety, among many mental health problems, and using art as a form of self-expression is very therapeutic for me. Art can allow oneself to express turbulent inner emotions that can often be hard, or impossible, to explain in humble words. The children at Bursledon House are such strong, brave, amazing individuals and we are so lucky to have the chance to work with them on creating their own personality portraits. The staff and pupils have welcomed us with open arms and it is inspiring to see how a hospital school operates. The staff at Bursledon House are particularly lovely, caring and open-minded. Helping others is always good therapy for the soul: ‘If you light a lamp for somebody it will also brighten your path.’ (Buddhist quote!) Thank you to ASLI for giving me the opportunity to give opportunities to others.”