A picture says a thousand words

Art is good therapy

‘Before you know what Kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth….’

There has been no good news this week. It’s all a bit crap. A lot crap actually. I’ve got the ‘Sads’. And it’s more than the usual seasonal affective disorder. So I’m reading poetry to cope.

You see its winter here in Australia. A time when you watch a bit more telly. Right. Well. I wish I hadn’t. I thought it would be OK. The election was finally done. Thank goodness. I turned the ABC back on.

That’s when I saw it. Perhaps you did too. Horror. Really confronting footage. It was of indigenous children being brutalised. By the very people meant to be caring for them.

Love is in the Street

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness, you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road. You must see how this could be you….

Of course we are all outraged. We should be. Perhaps you too were hit or hurt or harmed in some way as a child. But you’ve adjusted. Forgotten that child.

And when the time came to discipline your own child what did you do?

I know I’m uneasy. With these truths. Because isn’t it true that we know more than we let on generally. We choose to forget. We know what and who. Yes we do. The disabled, the indigenous, the elderly, the mentally ill, the homeless, disadvantaged children. Women and children.

But it’s an intellectual thing. We can maintain a comfortable distance. Between us and them.

Till we got to see it. In our lovely lounge rooms. Yes that’s what was so powerful. And we couldn’t look away. Reality TV got real. For once.

A picture really is worth a thousand words.

How he too was someone who journeyed though the night with plans and the simple breathe that kept him alive…..

This is a key. To something important. About Art. To the role of Art. Any art form. Painting. Drawing. Image making. Poetry. Music. Sculpting. Dancing. Even Stitching.

You see we stitch the quilt to keep our loved ones warm. But we make it beautiful to mend our own broken bits. It’s an alchemy of sorts.

‘Art’ bypasses our thinking brain. The always analysing self. Grounds us though the senses. Than gets to the heart of the matter. Metaphorically. Yet we feel it in our bones. Literally.IMG_7081

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing…..

Something is rotten in the state of western privilege. Big business and institutions are not places of imagination. Things like ‘art’ are viewed as something extra. Not central. Not before profit and efficiency.

We all flock to galleries on our holidays. To big block buster exhibitions. For leisure. But we return to our usual routines where art has less of a presence. We have stuff to get done.

I’m suggesting that it is in these very times we need ‘art’ more then ever. That we would do well to turn to the artisans amongst us for guidance. God knows the politicians aren’t doing a decent enough job.

We need to value the possibilities of art in our daily life. Art has bigger concerns. We need to take seriously our own creative impulses. Our individual endeavours at art making. It doesn’t need to be for making money. To profit from.

‘Art’ has a special power. Transformation. It is a way to make sense of suffering. To confront the shadow. To imagine a different way. To find the beauty. To even change metal to gold.

It’s a sneaky way past that rationalizing mind that doesn’t want to go there. Maybe can’t. I’m sure the mind has its own reasons but reason is not always wise.

Art does not belong only in the museums we visit at holiday time. It needs a daily space. You need a daily dose. Especially in these times. There’s no excuse. Not now that the internet has brought ‘art ‘ close to everyone.

I dream of a new era. It’s one where amongst other things doctors will prescribe a beautiful poem. Or a song. Maybe a painting.

We know we can’t change the loses in our lives. But we can learn to navigate the regions of suffering. And in doing so leave behind a beautiful trail.

In full bloom

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread……

Heres some links to the ‘art’ I’ve used to get though this week. I think you’ll find some magic here.

  1. POETRY; ‘Kindness’ by Noami Shihab Nye.
  2. MUSIC; Cloud Cult’s ‘Breakfast with my Shadow’ and other songs from the Album Unplug.
  3. PHOTOGRAPHY;Floriane de Lassee. Her project ‘How much can you carry?’
  4. INDIGNEOUS ARTMAKING; Tony Albert’s ‘We can be heroes’ and other mixed media works.
  5. FILM; Wings of Desire by Wim Wender




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2 thoughts on “A picture says a thousand words

  1. What an interesting read! Thank you so much. And yes, I too was shocked – partly because I hadn’t taken the time to properly feel the wrong that I’d heard was going on. And I am still holding onto that, to some degree, each time I look at my son and think ‘they are only just a little older than you’. It’s sad that it takes us to see live footage before we act – but as you say, it points to the need for other ways of gaining understanding than purely rationale ones. Art, in its different forms, is so important.

    • Thanks for reading. I reckon when we feel things we ‘know’ them in a deeper way. That there are some things only the heart can truly ‘know’.I’ve found art to be such a golden way to make sense , even make good the bad stuff and broken bits in my own life that I can’t help but be a little bit passionate about how important it is. For all of us. For our culture. We have a lot of stuff to heal.