Let me tell you about the Good Grief Café.
I rarely report on workshops or playshops in this here blog.
But I wonder –
Might you find it useful to read about bringing Art to your experience of Grief?
Good Grief Café is a one day workshop hosted by Sydney Threshold Choir.
I was thrilled to co-facilitate along with the amazing Trish Watts and Beate Steller.
(Look for a bunch of groovy website links down the bottom of this page)
I was responsible for the Art thread of the day, weaving it in with other offerings.
Let’s take a glimpse at the Art thread:
Safe Space for the Holding of Grief
a guided contemplation.
What does Safe Space mean to you?
Is there a nurturing or protective place you go in your imagination or the external world that can help you to be with grief?
It could be indoors, outdoors. It could be a leaf or a quality of light or your grandma or your belly.
Each person hung out in their Safe Space, exploring its colours, textures and sounds.
They then made art in response, while Trish drummed, hummed and sang.
My Golden Moment
I looked around the room. I saw forty people engaged with art-making, immersed in the highly personal, yet deeply universal act of listening to the forces of creation.
They were, each person, actively absorbed in responding to the call of tactile art materials combined with their own inner Creative Life Force.
They were each and every one bringing forth a process and artwork that had never previously been seen in the world.
I shed a tear. Maybe three. There was something piquantly sweet about this hush, this divine play, this Golden Moment that moved me and stirred an earthed satisfaction.
Wisdom of Creativity – Drawing forth Strength
I wanted to guide people to consider strengths, resources and self-care strategies they could tap into during grief or loss.
I invited them to connect with a Wise Being. This could be a real or imaginary figure, a Kind Wise self, a spiritual source, a tree, an animal or an old friend. Or it might be their artwork from earlier in the day. They posed three questions to their Wise Being:
- What is a strength of mine that I can bring to the art of grieving?
- What is a self-caring practice or action I can bring to the art of grieving?
- What is your special message to help me through the art of grieving?
Again, I invited art in response. They used paper doilies, pipe cleaners, oil pastels, ribbons, magazine collage, textas, all kinds of stuff. People placed their Wise Being art piece in relation to their Safe Space.
These forty people blew my mind. I’m often delighted at how, given the same info and materials, our human art-hearts and hands come up with infinite original variations on how to use the base materials. It’s a form of alchemy for sure.
During the ritual guided by Beate, participants placed their artwork in the Sacred Space, around the Universal Bowl of Grief. They did this in silence while the choir sang.
Three principles threaded through the creative strands of the day:
- Honour the creator or artist
- Honour the creative process
- Honour the creation or artistic product
I felt that the closing ritual grounded and deepened these three levels of honouring.
Susie Nelson-Smith, one of the ‘Choir Mothers’, offered feedback:
‘The Sacred Space was filled with light. It was a glorious day and I loved it all so much.
Doing artwork added a dimension that was deep and moving.
The balance was perfect.
Thank you for a very memorable day where I personally experienced healing, connection and love.’
So there’s my rare report. Let me know if you take away something of value.
with love, art and soul from Sally
PS Photo permissions were granted all round
PPS Further links here:
Susie Nelson-Smith (who took the photos appearing in this blog)