Art, Love and Realness

We are Pod.

We are.

We.

My little Pod group formed randomly … or was it laced around some invisible design?

After Australia’s election in May, I felt a strong urge towards community, to be with like-hearted people. I sent out an email to maybe twelve creative arts therapists to get together, to lament, to make art, to see what emerged.

Art, Love, Realness
in the Pod
Sally Swain art-in-relationship
Transforming Grief into Gold

Four of us turned up on the day. We bonded immediately.

We became Pod.

Pod is for grieving, expressing our true feelings, making art and, importantly, eating too much cake. We’ve now met several times. We don’t necessarily talk politics or big picture stuff. We speak whatever matters to us at the time.

ART, LOVE AND REALNESS

was

my impassioned happy-slogan

in meeting three.

Pod gathering number four begins. We have cake on our plates. We have art materials at our fingertips. We have landed.

I slap down a bit of collage. It gives me a ground; a starting point. How about a pre-painted magazine page and a paint-dabbed tissue?

Art, Love, Realness
in the Pod    beginnings
Sally Swain art-in-relationship

I notice the letter W right there in the centre, on its side. Can you see it? I pause. W? What might that mean to me right now? Straight away the answer comes. It stands for ‘We’.

It stands for the ‘We’ of Pod.

It’s a reminder of community, of interdependence. It tells me I don’t have to try and figure out my life, my work, my struggles, on my own. Even as I write this sentence, I breathe out a sighhh. It is so easy to get caught up in individualism, where I think I have to solve problems in my busy head; where I have to be a self-made woman and put myself out in the world.

Do you relate? ‘Making it on your own’ is so embedded and idealised in our culture. Such pressure. Anyway, it’s a myth. Nobody truly succeeds on their own. Always, someone somewhere sometime is supporting us.

I write a little ‘e’ next to the W. We.

Art, Love, Realness
in the Pod
Sally Swain art-in-relationship

I paint a Pod. I write the word ‘We’ lots and lots of times. The word becomes weird and funny, but demands to proliferate.

Art, Love, Realness
in the Pod
Sally Swain art-in-relationship
We We We We We

Gold arrives.

Art, Love, Realness
in the Pod
Sally Swain art-in-relationship
Gold arrives

More white tissue beckons. Laying it down is a bit like a tourniquet. Ew. Suddenly I don’t like the picture. It looks like blood and a bandage. We-e-elll …Pod was kind of forged in blood. And a community of ART, LOVE AND REALNESS is incredibly healing.

Art, Love, Realness
in the Pod
Sally Swain art-in-relationship
Transforming Grief into Gold

I still don’t particularly like the picture, but I want to share with you the sustaining spirit of ‘We’. I want to live in the Creative Love Exchange.

(Here’s another post about seeking solace in creative community)

Along those lines, here’s a wee (We) community noticeboard.

Let me link you to upcoming offerings

of several non-Pod Sydney art therapists.

Penelope James: Sydney Art Therapy Group for Therapists in Glebe over 6 Tuesday evenings from 15th October   www.arTTi.com.au

Anne Buckingham: Art + Mental Wellbeing workshops at Lane Cove Gallery in September      info@gallerylanecove.com.au

Gabriel Lawrence: Embrace your Inner Superhero (for women) in Ryde on Saturday 14th September     http://www.into-arts.com.au

Romny Vandoros: is to co-lead one of her Artful Retreats…in Crete! October 1st to 4th.     https://www.artfulretreats.com/crete-4-days?fbclid=IwAR2nJKgrvf67-jnLhxqYK4ohJrrqz2d5MuzGl1n_isXpMX891JNJw4aTjZI

Phillipa Tayler: A Creative Look at Chronic Pain several Monday mornings in Willoughby https://www.workshoparts.org.au/course/ArtTherapyChronicPain

Roxy Taylor: The Benefits of Art Therapy in Residential Aged Care podcast  https://www.wisecare.com.au/blog/episode2

Oh yes. There’s me. Sally Swain: I have one or two spots in Creative Wellspring on Saturday 21st September in Glebe, Sydney.

We are ART THERAPY ABUNDANCE! 

with love, art and soul from Sally

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Sustenance

Trees and people. And art.

I see

a small painting right there on the last wall of the Modern Masters from the Hermitage exhibition. It’s Odilon Redon’s Woman Asleep Beneath a Tree. The colours are vivid-heart-blue and blood-song-red. The texture is knobbly, gritty.

Odilon Redon art

Woman Asleep Beneath a Tree    Odilon Redon

The blurb says Redon believed trees

‘encapsulated the essence of eternal nature and formed an axis

linking the terrestrial and celestial realms’.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Trees. Ahhh. Large trees. Ahhh.

Bridging earth and sky,

pouring out oxygen,

providing home,

quietly dancing their interconnected lives

for all to see.

I am ignited to consider images of humans in relation to trees. Sure, I’ve spontaneously painted Sally-style trees quite often. Yet, there’s something evocative, memory-sparking, dream-lifting, fairytale-diving, about a picture of a human adult or child making contact with a tree in some way.

Oh, of course. There was my recent-ish post – 
Lost and Found in the Forest.

Sally Swain art painting collatge

Lost and Found in the Forest
Sally Swain © art

Trees and people. And art.

Then I recall my Resting in Abundance Tree. This bejewelled painting on calico was inspired – would you believe – by a Psychodrama Conference session on ancestors. During an ancestor meditation my imagination oddly leapt straight back to a big old tree, bypassing centuries of great and great-great relatives.

Since creating that work, when I remember, I attempt to conjure the bliss of leaning back into the voluminous, solid trunk of a large mother tree.

Swain art tree

Resting in Abundance Tree
Sally Swain © art

Trees and people. And art.

Some months ago, I stayed in an aesthetically displeasing cabin in the mountains. The one charming element was the broad beech tree overhanging the balcony. I gazed up into its intimate branches and swept into floods of tears at the cascading cognitive loss of a family member.

I painted a wee picture: Deep Grief Beech Tree. The cushion she sits on becomes the Blue Mountains. The sheltering branches become an eye.

What do you see?

grief tree art Swain

Deep Grief Beech Tree
Sally Swain © art

Trees and people. And art.

My niece is twelve.

She has just made the transition from primary to high school. That transition so many of us made in unguided horror in the old days, is well supported by her new school. On holiday from Melbourne, she climbed a massive fig tree – the type of tree some Sydneysiders take for granted. I love this photo. I might just have to do a painting of it.

tree climb photo

Poised
Niece in Tree

Trees and people. And art.

Marion Alexandre is a beautiful artist I found on Facebook. She does a lot of people-and-tree pictures. Let’s see – here’s a link: Marion Alexandre images.

Trees and people. And art.

Recently I chanced upon a library book:

In Their Branches – Stories from ABC RN’s Trees Project.

Gretchen Miller, editor, says, ‘In 2013, ABC RN asked its audience for stories of the trees they loved and the trees they had lost – and as director and curator of the project I was astonished by the volume of correspondence, and deeply moved by the unique nature of the very personal stories told.’ The book is a selection of the written snapshots sent in by the radio audience.

Trees and people. And art.

More people-and-tree artworks are clearly required.

Do you have a favourite piece

of art or writing that celebrates

a human-tree relationship?

Or, even more personally:

do you have a story of a tree

that matters to you?

Or, even more artfully:

have you created an artwork

including trees and people?

Odilon Redon art

Woman Asleep Beneath a Tree

with love, art and soul from Sally

Night Trees, Sea Breeze

‘We hold you’, say the trees.

art trees cicada wing grief

Night Trees, Sea Breeze
Sally Swain © art

I return to a beachside place of the heart. It’s been a while. The cabins that I used to stay in, to the north of the village, are demolished, erased. The whole camping ground is gone. It’s as if it never existed. I weep salty tears by the salty sea.

I walk and weep; walk and weep.

Other, more current griefs surface and spill. The long, slow, gritty grief of caring for elderly folk, in both my personal and professional life, unexpectedly surges forth. The bittersaltysweet release of tears is required regularly, it seems.

rockpool texture art photo

sea creatures create squiggles

I am able

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Where does a bunch of Art Therapists

working in aged care

go for a collective artist date?

Hidden exhibition

Hidden exhibition
Drops, (for Eva Hesse)
Rox de Luca

Why. To a cemetery, of course.

Hidden exhibition
The Storyteller (detail)
Teffany Thiedeman

Not just any cemetery.

Hidden Rookwood Cemetery Sculpture Walk

commemorates 150 years of ‘the Sleeping City’.

Hidden exhibition

Hidden exhibition
Mandir: Shrine
Lee FullARTon

‘HIDDEN is an outdoor sculpture exhibition that takes place amongst the gardens and graves in one of the oldest sections of the Cemetery. The exhibition invites artists to ponder the notion of history, culture, remembrance and love and allows audiences to witness creative expression hidden throughout Australia’s largest and most historic cemetery’,

Hidden art exhibition

Hidden exhibition
Meditation Forest
Peter Hardy

says the website.

Was it morbid? This art expedition to a place where members of my very own family are buried? Was it creepy? Melancholic? No. None of the above. It was actually lovely to go to Rookwood NOT for a funeral.

(The exhibition is viewable til 24th September.)

EAT.

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Good Grief Cafe

Sally Swain original art painting

Here Am I
Swimming in a Teacup
Sally Swain © original art
purchased by a lovely member of Sydney Threshold Choir

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.

(Link to this Brave, Big-Hearted Bunch of Women Here).

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

I led

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The Joyful Art of Grieving

Joy? Grief? Huh? How do these fit together?

Let’s look at Hiromi Tango’s work.

Hiromi Tango

Nature/Nurture (Green) 2015
Hiromi Tango
neon and mixed media

This wondrous, brave artist threads together

loss, wool and plastic

to create vivid sculptural installations.

Her current Sydney exhibition, Fluorescence, encapsulates Tango’s grief for her

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