Release The Pressure

drawing of a knitted sailing boat

Knitting Time: pen and ink drawing [C] Colin Hambrook 2013

I had the first introductory Knitting Time session at Pallant House on Tuesday 7 May. Big thanks to all who attended and especially to Step Up Arts Coordinator, Mandie Saw for holding the space. And to Pallant House for allowing it to happen.

The relationship to the theme of ‘loss’ from Aradne the textile artist, Joseph Young, the sound artist and Mandie Saw – who are all taking a part in facilitating the workshops – are from very different places. That’s the point, really. I’m really looking to use the workshops running from July to August to open up concerns around ‘loss’ out as a theme in a general sense, rather than limit our starting point for creating artwork to specific agendas. I’m not looking for neat boxes. Knitting Time is about how the difficulties we face as a part of life can be the most inspirational places for creative expression.

Loss is a sensitive area and not easy to face head-on. My motivation in producing Knitting Time is to challenge the taboos which keep ‘loss’ locked up inside. I feel it’s the act of hanging on to our stiff upper lips and telling ourselves we are strong enough to cope which can so easily unbalance our souls and lead to further difficulties in our lives.

The group last week had a supportive atmosphere. The workshop was energising. I was blown away by peoples’ trust, openness and general responses to the themes. I’m feeling optimistic about the coming workshops this July – August, and am planning to keep the blog updated with ideas as the project develops.

Aradne shared her beautiful webs. She brought along a spider-web of a blue dress handed around for trying on. And she shared the story behind her textile hanging Freedom From, Freedom To, which she exhibited in the Outside In exhibition at Pallant House Gallery, 2012-13.

Aradne works in an intuitive manner allowing her textile work to evolve throughout the making process. She uses hand and machine embroidery techniques to create fantastic tactile web-like structures. She explained how the textile hanging was a starting point for a new way of working that emerged from embracing emotional difficulties. Freedom From, Freedom To connects a host of figures in relationship; some in conversation; some solitary. I was immediately drawn to her work. Much of it mirrors my own approach to drawing figures, evoking a sense of being supported and contained by the web-like forms. You can see images of this delicate tactile work at http://www.outsidein.org.uk/Aradne She is also exhibiting her webs soon in an exhibition titled Mindscapes at http://merstongallery.co.uk in West Sussex.

Joseph Young came to the workshop with his grandparents family photo album. He explained how the photos in the album had been rearranged by his mum, giving a snapshot across several generations of his family. He used the album as the inspiration for a binaural sound installation produced for his MA graduation show at the University of Brighton in 2005. Joseph played the first few minutes of the piece in which he talks about the loss reflected in the silence in his childhood; and his fervour for collecting things, leading to the collection of sounds on a cassette recorder. You can hear the piece, streamed on his website http://artofnoises.com/the-family-album/ It’s a beautiful piece, offering a snapshot of a childhood, a memoir written in sound and word; a shifting reflection on that sense of loss that comes with the unstoppable growth into adulthood.

Mandie Saw played us a track by Leftfield, ‘Release The Pressure’ sharing the time the song played an important part in freeing her from a difficult and isolated place. She talked about how that emotional connection that gets you through difficult times can be an unconscious thing. The time she told us about was several years ago, yet she’d only listened to the words recently: “I’ve got to stand and fight/ In this creation/ Vanity I know/ Can’t guide I alone/ I’m searching to find/ A love that lasts all time/ I’ve just got to find/ Peace and unity”

My starting point is my story, which involves psychosis [I veer away from the narrow definition of psychosis as an ‘illness’] In Greek psykhosis meant “a giving of life; animation; principle of life.” To me the meaning of the word is about balancing the soul. Essentially Knitting Time is about using the power of the imagination to transcend impossible life situations. In my case it was growing up with the end of the world, literally and metaphorically as the Cold War loomed over us and the Jehovah’s Witnesses preached an interpretation of The Revelations, giving the End a specific date during my 17th year.

I’m nearing the deadline for getting the draft material for the Knitting Time book ready to send to the publisher, so I’ll post another blog another blog in a couple of weeks to let you know how that’s gone.

About Knitting Time: art and poetry on the theme of psychosis

'Knitting Time: a journey through loss' is a poetry and visual arts project reflecting on the theme of art and psychosis. A book and exhibition of the work is due to be launched at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex on 10 October 2013 to celebrate World Mental Health Day. During this research and development phase I want to gather responses, thoughts, recollections and comments, so please fill in my surveymonkey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/F2MN2MT and add your let me know what you think? Or feel free to email me via knitting-time [at] btinternet.com
This entry was posted in art, mental health, psychosis, sound art, textile art and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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