I was chatting with my old/new friend, Lila* - it's a long story - about her relationship with drawing and why firstly she hadn't pursued a career in product design (which had been her first choice) and secondly, years later, what was stopping her picking up a pencil now.
I don't know exactly how old Lila is - I'm terrible at guessing - she might be a contemporary - I feel like I'm in my 30s but am 54, so that's quite a window. She is a gentle, softly spoken person and a dog lover, so obviously an empath and great judge of companionship. Her face is open and her eyes a little sad. Maybe that's circumstantial. There can be real unease about articulating private fears and therefore risking greater vulnerability. What if by giving the demons a form, they manifest in a material way? These revelatory conversations aren't easy.
That said, my gratitude for her trust, and confidence in the relevance and value of the Where Art & Grief Meet project has been intensified by the time we spent together.
Lila's multilayered rationale is comprised of inherently genuine and human concerns. Nothing she spoke of was foreign to me. There too was the crater of grief - Lila's dear mum died just over two and a half years ago.
Tied up with drawing and making art for Lila are:
long held ideas of perfection and its unattainability;
real doubt she can ever recreate what is in her head;
a belief she has missed the bus as far as learning and honing skills because she hadn't undertaken a formal educational pathway out of school
societal pressure that without formal education her artistic pursuits lack legitimacy; Lila's mother went to art school and was "naturally talented"; and then the cherry on the cake,
real trepidation about being judged. What's more I suspect the most harsh judgement would come from Lila's own critical and unforgiving perspective.
All of this blocked Lila's desire to put marks on a page. And honestly, with all that baggage, why WOULD a person ever start?
We shared our thoughts, ideas and experiences and by doing so managed to shift the frame of Lila's purpose and expectations. These are all things we will be further exploring throughout the project.
I was chuffed to know that Lila had, in advance of our conversation, already purchased new materials - always therapeutic - and was obviously open and ready to start an exploration of her own creative expression. The main thing was a focus on process and not outcomes.
My hope is increasing as we move towards the Project's commencement in just 19 days, that as a community of makers moved by all shapes of grief and loss, that we can encourage one another and let each day be a new day with its endless possibilities. We need, most importantly, to acknowledge and honour the stones we have accumulated in our lives and construct with them a pathway to creativity rather than a wall that gets in our way.
If you are inspired by the Project, please tag your instagram posts with #whereartandgriefmeet so we can share the fruits of our shared experience.
If you can and would like to support the Project financially you can find tiers and rewards at Patreon.
*Lila isn't her real name. I didn't realise I was going to be writing about our conversation when we spoke and therefodidn't seek her permission.