Art and Creative Writing Group Therapy – Early 2016 “Altered Book Project” by Karen Robinson

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No.75 'Altered Book' by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 - Facilitated by Art Therapist Vicky Nickolls NB: All images are protected by copyright laws

No.75 Karen Robinson (me) holding my ‘Altered Book’ created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 with Mind Australia – Facilitated by Art Therapist Vicky Nicholls NB: All images are protected by copyright laws

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Earlier this year, I participated once again in art therapy and creative writing therapy sessions with Mind Australia as a participant.  Our art therapist facilitator – Vicky Nicholls had us work on a project which required us to create our own special ‘altered book’.  During the process of creating my ‘altered book’, I decided to add pockets that would hold a small selection of my creative writing pieces, that I particularly liked and also that held special meaning for me.  These creative writing pieces I had written throughout 2015 and early 2016 during my creative writing sessions, and sometimes as part of homework we were given by our Creative Writing Facilitator – Judy Bird.  These particular pieces I have included within this blog and can be found towards the end of this page.

 

No.77 ' Step 8 - Group photo taken at our Art Therapy Session - last day! - Altered Book' by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

No.77 ‘ Step 8 – Group photo taken at our Art Therapy Session – last day!  We stand holding our precious ‘Altered Books’ created during our Art Therapy Sessions 2016.   NB All images are protected by copyright laws

 

MY ALTERED BOOK!

This is my ‘altered book’ as seen here below, which I had created during my art therapy sessions with Mind Australia 2016.  I discovered during my research on ‘altered books’ that they are a form of mixed media artwork, where a book is changed from its original state – to an altered state.  This can entail cuts, tears, burns, folds, paints, adds to, collages, rebinds, gold-leafs, created pop-ups, rubber-stamps, drills, bolts, and/or be ribbons.  It can have pockets and niches added to hold tags, rocks, ephemera, or other three-dimensional objects.  I decided to create a ‘altered book’ that was made up of materials that I had used on a painting titled Heart of Treasured Memories that I had painted during Art Therapy 2015 sessions.  I wanted to achieve a marriage between these two items – as they signified to me the end of one journey and a commencement of another!

 

No. 15 Completed 'Altered Book' by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright

No. 15 Completed ‘Altered Book’ by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright

 

PROCESS USED TO CREATE MY ‘ALTERED BOOK’

I stripped back the book’s first layer of paper on each page and cover.  Then I painted it with a creamy iridescent paint and then painted the book’s spine and page edges – in gold paint.  Then I added decorated ribbons at one end of the book’s spine which I had added little wooden flowers and butterflies too, also I glued onto these items, sequins that I had left over from my Heart of Treasured Memories painting. During one of the art therapy session, I found a set of patterned decorative paper sheets which I further decorated with the wooden flowers, butterflies and sequins.  I then folded these paper sheets in half and inserted then into the back of the book’s spine.  When the book was closed and the book’s spine was fanned outwards, these folded paper sheets offered another visual dimension to the ‘altered book’.  I then created ink drawings onto sheets of luminous creamy coloured paper that I had especially purchased for its paper weight, colour and look; and made little insert folders out of them that once glued into the ‘altered book’ itself, held my especially chosen creative writing pieces.  I then purchased a cardboard box that was big enough to hold my ‘altered book’ creation in, as I wanted something that would safely store the art work itself.  Like my ‘altered book’ I also altered the cardboard box and used a similar process and materials for its re-creation.

 

PERSONAL REFLECTION

It occurred to me after completing my ‘altered book’ during a time of reflection, that the whole procedure of creating a personal ‘altered book’ through re-invention, or it could also be said, transforming it into something that represented a piece of ourselves to share with others and/or keep as a private thought book to mull over when needed – was a very therapeutic process. It proved to be a deeply personal endeavour; a quite and studious creative journey that helped us work towards a better sense of well-being. It wasn’t until I had finished my ‘altered book’ and read through my selection of creative writing pieces, that it became apparent to me that this whole process of creating a ‘altered book’ was a way of re-assessing ones self; and helped me understand just how much I had gained from having been part of these wonderful art therapy and creative writing therapy sessions since 2014 to now being early 2016.  It showed me just how far I had travelled within my own personal post-traumatic growth journey.

 

 

 

MY ALTERED BOOK CREATIVE PROCESS SLIDESHOW

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ALTERED BOOK PROJECT PROCESS – STEP BY STEP!

  • Step No. 1 – “Stripping back the original book”
No. 4 - Stage No. 1 - The stripping back of the original book to make way to make the 'Altered Book' by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

No. 4 – Stage One – The stripping back of the original book to make way to make the ‘Altered Book’ by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

 

  • Step No. 2 – “Painting the whole stripped back book cover and pages”
No. 7 Stage two - Painting whole of the stripped back book with Matisse Pearlized Structure Paint - 'Altered Book' by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

No. 7 Stage two – Painting whole of the stripped back book with Matisse Pearl like Structure Paint – ‘Altered Book’ by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

 

  • Step No. 3 – “Decorating the outside cover of the altered book”
No. 18 Step Three - Decorating the outside cover with personally chosen materials - 'Altered Book' by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

No. 18 Step Three – Decorating the outside cover with personally chosen materials – ‘Altered Book’ by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

 

  • Step No. 4 – “Decorative paper panel spinal book inserts”
No. 25 Step Four - Decorated paper panel spinal inserts - 'Altered Book' by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

No. 25 Step Four – Decorated paper panel spinal inserts – ‘Altered Book’ by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

 

  • Step No. 5 – “Ink painted pocket inserts to hold the short creative writing stories”
No. 36 Step 5 - Hand ink painted pocket inserts to hold my short creative writing stories 'Altered Book' by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

No. 36 Step 5 – Hand ink painted pocket inserts to hold my short creative writing stories ‘Altered Book’ by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

 

  • Step No. 6 – “Altered book keepsake box”
No. 43 Step Six - The painting and decorating of a keepsake box for the book - 'Altered Book' by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

No. 43 Step Six – The painting and decorating of a keepsake box for the book – ‘Altered Book’ by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

 

  • Step No. 7 – “Completed altered book and keepsake altered book box”
No.51 Step 7 - Completed Altered Book and Keepsake Box for book - 'Altered Book' by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

No.51 Step 7 – Completed Altered Book and Keepsake Box for book – ‘Altered Book’ by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

 

MY ALERTED BOOK CREATIVE WRITING STORIES

No.65 Creative Writing Stories inserted into ink painted insert pockets of the 'Altered Book' by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright

No.65 Creative Writing Stories inserted into ink painted insert pockets of the ‘Altered Book’ by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright

  • Title:  “Destination – Old Age…”

My life has not been boring that is for certain!  At times it has been a sweet and delicate pathway where my soul has strive to ascend to a place of beauty and peace.  And at other times, my life has been painfully difficult.  But now, I am at a mature age, where my youthful adventurers are in the past and I feel like the moon that is quietly shining within the lives of those nearest and dearest to me, hoping that my presence brings beauty – a presence that causes no harm.  I do seek to gain knowledge of the outer world – the good, the bad, the ugly, to delve into the mysteries of others, to seek out the natural beauty of the human soul and treasure the best of us.  Old age has made me become a very practical person and it has also allowed me to arrive at a place where I find myself enjoying this part of my life.  It’s a time where I can also be strong and direct, where I can now share a lifetime of memories, in the hope that some good can be achieved. I am a sentimental deep thinker and determine to leave behind me, memories worthy of retelling to future generations.

Written by © Karen Robinson – April 2016

 

  • Title:  “Taking a Look Back…”

It takes me back – so far into the past as I look at the nicely framed photo of my two children when they were very little.  Ben would have been about five years old, I would say, and Kelly would have been 14 months younger, making her four years old.  They were both dressed in clothes that I had skilfully made for them.  Ben in a grey corduroy, long sleeve jacket with three bright gold buttons at its front, and matching knee-length shorts and a white shirt with a bright aqua blue tie.  Kelly dressed in a lollie pink corduroy long sleeve jacket, with three gold buttons at its front, and a matching three-quarter length skirt and a white shirt with a frilled edged collar and satin ribbon tie around the shirt collar.  Both children wore long white knee-high socks and brand new shoes.  Ben’s were polished leather and Kelly’s were patent leather.  Both had freshly scrubbed faces and sweet-smelling clean hair.  Ben’s hair was cut and groomed according to young boys of the day and Kelly’s hair had a mind of its own, as always – blond and curly!  They are holding hands which would have been under my instructions for sure, knowing I would have wanted a wonderful brother/sister photo of the two of them for memory’s sake.  I can see by looking at this photo that the sun was in Ben’s eyes so his face is slightly titled to the side, with his eyes squinting and a look I grew to see over many years and Kelly’s expression reflects a warm shyness.  They were dressed to attend a wedding with both Mark their father and myself – their mother. 

It was a country wedding of the daughter of a man I used to work for – Alf John was his name.  Alf John owned a substantial company in South Melbourne and an important mentor for me.  This now reminds me that Alf John was the man who had lent Mark and I the deposit for our very first home in Essendon, Melbourne.  He demanded that we paid back the money with no interest and we dutifully do so with much gratitude for having given us both the opportunity to buy a home.  The house was a very old Californian bungalow styled home, needed everything done to it which we did get to do over time.  We spent our first 13 years of family life in this home.

I so much love this photo of the both of my children.  It brings back memories of a very good time in our family’s life.  Whilst bringing up a young family wasn’t always easy, it was one of the most important roles I have had in my life.  I didn’t always do the best job of being a mother, but I always loved both my children with every bit of my heart and soul and still do today.  Kelly has grown into just an amazing young woman, a fine human being and my son sadly…well Ben is not with us in this world but is always in my heart…my beautiful boy Ben.

Written by ©Karen Robinson – March 2016

 

  • Title:  “When I was 10…”

When I was 10 – life was difficult, but let me think more about my childhood adventures instead.  I was the oldest of three children. I had a younger sister by 3 years and a young brother by 4 years. It was my job, most days, to look after us all, whilst mum worked and dad … well he would work sometimes, and mostly drink other times, and sometimes – both at the same time, but enough about dad.

The three of us children, would take ourselves off into the tropical rain forests and along the Bay’s esplanade for walkabouts.  These times became the sum of our childhood adventures!  We would swim in the crystal clear creeks that were refreshed daily by out bursts of torrential rain. When the creeks were still and quite, we would study the clear water and search for small fishes, tadpoles and look for tiny specks of sparkling gold dust at the bottom of creek beds. We would stalk blue mountain butterflies, as they fed on showy tropical flowers, within the neighbourhoods’ green lush gardens.

Sometimes, we would look for mango trees to climb and retrieve Mangos to help satisfy our hunger and other times, we would search for the freshest coconuts that lay at random beneath the numerous coconut palm trees within the region.  It would take us hours and hours to remove the outer hard dark-brown hairy husk casing of a coconut, but all seemed to be worth the effort, once we had reached its inner sanctum of creamy white coconut flesh and opaque coconut water.

We would walk along the Bay’s esplanade and collect the sour-sweet fruit pods that had fallen from the shore line Tamarind trees, onto the ground – then sit on the wall, looking out over the bay, whilst we suck on the sour-sweet fruit seeds.  At low tide, we would venture out onto the Bay’s shore edge, which did not consist of sands, but of a mud flat. Each step we would take – would have our feet and legs sinking into squishy, soft and sometimes smelly mud. Many small soldier crabs lived on these mudflats, and would run for cover, upon the sight of us three small children.

There were other times, where we would take retreat from the burning hot sun, under the shade of Frangipani trees where we cooled down and rested our tired little legs.  We would collect the fallen perfumed scented Frangipani flowers that lay beneath these trees and string them together and hang them around our necks or my sister and I would place them in our long hair. 

Stray dogs always seemed to become our friends and we would often have to tell them, to go back home and stop following us – perhaps they too were looking for adventures. We were always on the hunt for fresh water to drink and over time we grew to know where every fresh water tap was within our walkabout region, where every fruit tree was with available fruits to pick as needed, whether on public land or in private gardens, to us there was no difference, all land was our playground, awaiting for our arrival to explore.

These days would end in the inevitable journey back home, where our tired bodies found baths to wash away a day’s play; and with sleep ahead to prepare us for the next day’s walkabout adventures. This is how it should have been, but many times, the thought of returning home was full of trepidation, as we would never know, in what condition, we would find our father. Would he be there, better if he was not! If he was there, would he be drunk and angry; fearsome and scary? Would we be able to avoid – his tirade of imposing drunken rampage?…

As I said at the beginning of this little story, our lives as children was difficult but I do remember my childhood walkabout adventures with my younger sister and brother with much fondness. I know that these times for sure, were the birthplace of my love and respect for nature …”

Written by ©Karen Robinson – June 2015

 

  • Title:  “Laughing At Mother – A Teenager’s View Of Humour!

I remember a particular time as a teenager when my mother was having a very serious argument with me. We were screaming at each other – it was full on verbal abuse towards one another at its worst. I cannot remember the details of this tirade of back and forth abusive communication we were engaging in, but I can remember what brought it to an end. My mother was screaming furiously when all of a sudden her top false teeth came flying out of her mouth! At first we were both astonished and wondered what had just happened. Then when I realised that my mother’s false teeth had flown out of her mouth whilst she had been berating me – I just burst out laughing as it was the funniest thing I had ever seen. As a teenager this was a wonderful end to what had been a very serious encounter with my mother. My mother did not see the funny side of this event and collected her false teeth from where they had landed, but for me, as a teenager, this too just seemed to be even funnier. It was one of the very rare times when my mother seemed defeated and in some way sorrowful but my teenage sense of humour just enjoyed the event too much. One for daughter and nil for mother – a teenager’s view!

Written by © Karen Robinson – August 2015

 

  • Title:  “My Very First Memory Of Art…”

Art was a part of my childhood life and it was my father whom painted in oils.  There were numerous paintings throughout our home of a nude woman whom I came to learn many years on – was my mother.  These art works were never on walls, as we as a family moved many, many times up and down the eastern coast of Australia.  My father used to also have a subscription to an art magazine which I enjoyed going through and examining all the difference paintings and creative works; I remember being fascinated by these art journals. There were times my mother would round us three children up and with my father, we would visit art galleries, usually not the large imposing national and state galleries but the smaller and intimate ones featuring ambitious and creative artists, hoping to make a name for themselves, hoping to pay the rent for the next month – I would think.  Art represented in our lives, in my life as a child, the struggles of my father, his alcoholism, his frightening inner tumultuous self that in turn was used as a weapon upon his family.  I remember a night, in a fierce rage, my father smashed all of his paintings – I don’t remember him returning back to painting after that episode.  As a child, I enjoyed art and was always doodling great patterns in class and drawing whenever I had a chance.  I didn’t take up art in my early adulthood but I have now found myself returning back to a joy I had experienced as a small child, art for therapy I feel…

Written by ©Karen Robinson _ August 2015

 

  • Title:  “Not A Game But A Real Necessity…”

Solitaire – it’s a card game you play alone!  It’s when you have decided to be alone, the sometimes most enjoyable times when being alone can be just blissful.  When there is no need to satisfy someone else’s needs or wants.  When there is a silence that brings a sense of peacefulness within… and the chatter in the brain winds down to a quiet hum.  It can be a time to recharge the inner child so that the adult can function properly instead of being an out of control beast.  Yes, Solitaire…not a game but a real necessity!  And when this Solitaire, this game of being alone comes to an end, it presents a time to reunite with daily life – refreshed, renewed and enabling oneself to throw one’s arms around life once again… with gusto!

Written by © Karen Robinson – October 2015

 

  • Title:  “Beautiful Other…”

You are long and sleek and there’s a fine wick running through your centre, holding together a delicate array of very fine feathers.  You stare back at me, in a sophisticated way, dressed in blacks, dark midnight navies and soft sky blue colours.  At your very tip, there is a white colour which looks like you have stopped short of being finished.  I image you, in your wing, in flight, soaring up into fluffy white clouds and then gliding down, down, down towards the open field looking for pray.

I now image you heading back towards your shelter, as the dark thunderous clouds trample across the sky, in readiness to open up and let free winter rains from its pregnant clouds.  It’s now midnight, and I know the darkness has caused you to rest in one of your caves of choice.  Where you are safe and secure, where you rest your tired and weary wings and dream of the next day’s flying adventures.

Night has past and the sun is now raising and there is a column of sunlight reaching into your cave and alerting your awareness that it’s time to awake.  You open and stretch out your wings with a vigor that signals that you are strong and ready for what is ahead in your day.  A gentle breeze enters the cave, and you give flight and drift towards the cave opening and out into a chilly but beautiful dawn.

In your sight there comes another, just like you and you head towards this beautiful other with a sense of anticipation, a sense that this is the one. With little acknowledgment you fly off together out into the breathtakingly blue skies and up, up, up towards the heavens…

Written by © Karen Robinson – October 2015

 

  • Title:  “Listening To His Voice…”

As I listened to my husband’s voice over the telephone, I could sense how he was feeling.  The ability to do this comes from being married to this man for over 35 years, which has given me a knowing that can only be achieved by sharing one’s life with another, in an intimate and personal way.

There is a sign of tiredness, a slow tempo in his voice that tells me, things are not good with his brother.  I listen with care, waiting for the right moment to ask “and how is he” and my husband’s response is “not good”.  “He got back his blood results today and it is not hopeful” he adds.  My husband’s voice then trails off into a silence.  It means that the chemotherapy tablets his brother was taking as a last resort, in an attempt to live – are now not working.  This means that his brother, partner and doctors will need to look, to see if there is anything else his brother can take instead, that may extend his time – here in our world.  Without hearing my husband say anything else, I know it means there will be little else that can be done.  The cancer is at a point, where it will slowly grasp the last bit of life from his brother’s body and soul.

We tried to finish up our telephone call on a cheery note.  My husband’s voice still sounding sorrowful and sad as he proceeded to tell me that – they’re off now to see his brother’s neighbours, so that they could share the lady-finger bananas that he and his brother had just the day before, cut down from the banana tree that stand tall within his brother’s beautiful tropical garden paradise.  I let him go back to being with his brother, back to sharing precious moments, back to creating memories that will survive past his brother’s living presence and that would be stored away in my husband’s memory of his brother, to be hopefully shared with future generations of family to come.

I hang up the phone and are now left with the thoughts about my own journey that I had during my husband’s cancer fight.  My mind meanders through memories of how hard it was during my husband’s time of chemotherapy, during his recovery – painful and distressing.  I am so thankful that he survived, that he is still here with me now – my dear sweet husband.

Written by © Karen Robinson – April 2016

 

  • Title:  “Crying Roses…”

It’s raining and the roses look like they are crying,

Perhaps they know we are here amongst the ones, who were once dying,

Both my husband and I stop and sit in silence,

Thinking about our loss and leaning on one another with great reliance,

It’s been 6 years now since the passing of our son,

We often think why, why did he have to be the one,

It’s now time to stand and walk a little amongst the rain drenched roses,

And I seek my dear husband’s guide to do some poses,

For each year we make this pilgrimage to remember,

And always on the 5th of November,

A coffee and cake we share,

Where conversation is mostly spare,

Then it’s back home and a chat with our daughter,

The one we now look towards, in our family, to be the mortar…

How precious she is to us,

And our endless love will always be a must…

Written by © Karen Robinson – November 2015

 

  • Title:  “Something I Am Proud About…”

Proud – meaning ‘feeling pleased and satisfied about having done something or about owning something’!

I think one of the things in my life, that I have personally done, which makes me feel that I should be very proud of, is my volunteering with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria.  Being a RTSSV volunteer speaker has helped give meaning and purpose in my life after the death of my 25-year-old son Ben, who was killed in a single vehicle car crash in 2009.  Telling my family’s road trauma story to Road Trauma Awareness Seminar participants, helps to give these young and not so young people an opportunity to rethink their risky driver behaviour.  It is remarkable, the impact this has on participants.  And as a volunteer speaker, you know that what you have told them is going to save lives, help reduce serious injury and lessen the ripple effect of road trauma on family, friends and the wider community.  It’s something I don’t do for me, but I have definitely benefited from, in ways I wouldn’t have anticipated when I first started volunteer speaking back in March 2011.  It’s important, it has helped me reconnect with the wider world, it has added value to my daily life and it has made me a better person.  It is also an act of courage, it is humbling, it is sometimes very sad and sometimes difficult, but most of all, it’s the most, worthy task that I do right now in my life.

Written by ©Karen Robinson – November 2015

 

CONCLUSION

Looking back from where I began in 2014 to now, I am so grateful for all that I have been able to learn about myself and learn about how to take care of me, so in turn I can take care of those whom are nearest and dearest to me…

My Art Therapy and Creative Writing Therapy Sessions have now come to an end with Mind Australia.  I have been so fortunate to have had this opportunity to be part of these two therapy groups and have been able to meet an amazing group of people whom I have grown to admire and respect. But is time for me now to leave the security of this group to take on new adventures. Thank you Gillian Scaduto for extending to me the invitation to do art therapy and creative writing with Mind Australia and thank you to our two facilitators Vicky Nicholls and Judy Bird whom have been just so supportive within their facilitation roles. I will not forget my time with you all…

 

Karen Robinson (me) & Judy Bird - Mind Australia Creative Writing Facilitator during Creative Writing Session Northcote Townhall 2015 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

Karen Robinson (me) & Judy Bird – Mind Australia Creative Writing Facilitator during Creative Writing Session Northcote Townhall 2015 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

No.76 'Altered Book' by Karen Robinson created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

No.76 Karen Robinson (me) as a participant and Gillian Scaduto as Mind Australia Art Therapy & Creative Writing co-facilitator featuring our ‘Altered Books’ which we had created during Art Therapy Sessions 2016 NB All images are protected by copyright laws

 

© Karen Robinson – May 2016

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  Post-traumatic Growth – My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

Creative Writing – “When A Good Laugh Is Important!” written by Karen Robinson

While you are here – please check out my home page!

 

Karen Robinson at Creative Writing Therapy with Mind Australia - Northcote Town Hall October 2015 NB: All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

Karen Robinson at Creative Writing Therapy with Mind Australia – Northcote Town Hall October 2015 NB: All images are protected by copyright laws!. JPG

 

INTRODUCTION

Our creative writing sessions have now come to an end.  This week we said our farewells to each other with the hope that in the future sometime, we may catch-up informally to talk about what’s been happening in our lives.  It’s somewhat sad but a necessary important part of our creative writing therapy.  Now is the time we take what we have learned about ourselves through our creative writing efforts, and put this new knowledge to good use.  Whether it be the practice of continued creative writing efforts and/or embarking on another kind of creative therapy, we know we are now in a better place than when we first started, and now better skilled to deal with what’s ahead.

 

WHEN A GOOD LAUGH IS IMPORTANT!

It was important during our very last creative writing session that we attempt to engage in a sense of cheeriness.  Our creative writing facilitator had us write a piece that was to be about something that was our favourite thing about ourselves.  We had 10 minutes to write the piece and at the end of that 10 minutes we were then invited to share what we had written – if we wished.  What I love about these kind of creative writing exercises is this, you never know what is going to pop into your head and be translated into the written word.  I am also amazed and intrigued by what others write and share as well, how their stories vary and how imaginative they can be.  Sometimes, the group’s stories can be sad, sometimes our stories can be revealing and insightful, and at other times they can have us laughing unexpectedly – which is always welcomed!

I wrote a creative writing piece on this last day that did just that, had everyone laughing with delight and I must admit it gave me a great sense of pleasure knowing that I was able to achieve this, on this our very last day of creative writing with this extraordinary group of people.  Below is my creative writing piece that was based around the creative writing facilitator’s request “about something that was a favourite thing about ourselves” and I hope you find it humorous as well – remembering that a good laugh about one’s self can be important!  It is titled ‘Favourite Thing About Self’.

 

No. 1 – MY CREATIVE WRITING PIECE

 

No. 2 of 3 Art Therapy Session One - July 2015 'Self Portrait' by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson.JPG

No. 2 of 3 Art Therapy Session One – July 2015 ‘Self Portrait’ by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson.  It was created by outlining the silhouette on my face and then using pastel and charcoal to create this image on paper.  It was done during the art therapy session itself. JPG



Title:  "Favourite Thing About Self"
  

My grey hair colour is perhaps my most favourite ‘self’ thing!

It’s the only thing that’s gotten better

as I have gotten older.




The nice perky boobs have diminished

and given way

to the over-ripe melons

that sag and sag.




My once-lovely flat belly

is now a memory overwritten

by a lumpy, bumpy hill

that does not flatten out when I lay down.

It just sits there reminding me

of my middle-aged spread.




My once-muscular legs

that used to attract all sorts of admiration

from both males and females,

a noticeable gift from my mother’s DNA,

are now always hidden away, under long pants, in shame.




My skin that used to be aglow

with good health

and good looks

has slipped away

secretly, quietly

– never to be found again.




And so it goes,

as it must --

all that was favourite

has been taken by that thief,

old age,

and I am now left with one thing in exchange for my youth --

my grey hair,

a favourite ‘self’ thing!




Oops, I forgot.

I do like my brain.

It’s been working, not better

but differently,

and I can see that it is going to help me

in my ripe, old age.




Good bye, good looks

and thank you, brain.




Prose Poem © Karen Robinson, April 2016

 

 

WHAT ADVICE I WOULD GIVE SOMEONE IN A SITUATION LIKE MYSELF

Before we were to finished up this particular session, our creative writing facilitator asked us to write one more creative writing piece.  This piece was to be about “what advice we would give someone in a situation like ourselves”.  In contrast to my writing piece above, this was a serious and thoughtful piece.

 

No. 2 – MY CREATIVE WRITING PIECE

 


Advice I would give someone in a situation like mine…

Keep looking forward 
when looking back is too hard to bear 
and look back 
when you are stronger.
 
Whilst the pain will still be there, 
it will have hopefully morphed 
into a bearable medium to work with
as time marches on and on.

Take a moment in each day
to look for something
that will bring you
 some kind of joy,
 
whether it be joy 
for just a moment
or joy
for a greater period of time.
 
In time, you will begin 
to reward yourself 
by looking for more and more 
joy in the everyday.

And after some considerable time
some of your days will be full of joy, 
and the sadness
will only come
when you invite it in.

Prose Poem © Karen Robinson - April 2016

 

 

CONCLUSION

Thank you to Judy Bird our creative writing facilitator, Gillian Scaduto our Mind Australia co-facilitator and our wonderful group members – I will never forget our time shared…

 

Art Therapy Session No. 2-'Silhouette Portrait' by Karen Robinson Materials-acrylic paint on butcher paper August 7, 2014 photograph taken by Karen Robinson Images Copyright .JPG

Art Therapy Session No. 2-‘Silhouette Portrait’ by Karen Robinson Materials-acrylic paint on butcher paper August 7, 2014 photograph taken by Karen Robinson Images Copyright .JPG

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Written by © Karen Robinson, April 2016

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  Post-traumatic Growth – My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

Group Exhibition – Titled “Teavotion” – Written by Karen Robinson

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No. 42 of 101 'Teavotion' Group Exhibition of 100's of Teacosies at Bundoor Homestead Arts Centre March 2016 photographed by Karen Robinson

No. 42 of 101 images:  Karen Robinson viewing 100’s of Teacosies at Bundoora Homestead Arts Centre’s  ‘Teavotion Exhibition’ March 2016.  It was a celebration of ‘the tea cosy as a domestic icon and raises funds in support of Australian Red Cross.  The teacosies were donated for sale with all proceeds going to the charity’.  An extraordinary exhibition by amazing and talented crafters/artists/makers! Ref:  Bundoora Homestead Art Centre.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Art Therapy can present its self in many different ways, thus I am always interested in any form of art that offers the maker and viewer a therapeutic experience.  The act of knitting and crocheting is one of those crafting skills that can be very therapeutic.

So just the other day, when my dear neighbour asked if I would like to attend an exhibition with her, where she had donated a tea cosy (tea pot warmer) she had made with her knitting and crocheting group called the ‘Poppy Ladies’ – I said yes!  Too my surprise, the exhibition was very interesting, exceeded my expectations and I had a lovely time with my neighbour and the other members of the ‘Poppy Ladies’ group from the Epping RSL Club.  These wonderful volunteer knitters/crocheters, get together during each month to enjoy a free morning tea, while they knit/crochet and chat.  All the items they produce go to various charity groups throughout the year.  This particular group is supported by volunteer art therapists from the Australian National Veterans Arts Museum ANVAM with Tanja Johnston as head of the Arts Program.  Tanja explained to me that ANVAM’s arts programs ‘are open to all ages and skill levels and participants do not require any prior knowledge or skills’.  The programs ‘focus on the creative process and journey, to assist with the development of a sense of hope, purpose and pride’ in association with ‘the mastering of arts based skills’ (ANVAM 2016).

 

 

 

Featured above is my dear neighbour standing beside the tea cosy she had made and donated to ‘teavotion’ exhibition.  I just love the array of blood red roses adorning the top and the soft colours within the knitted cosy itself.

 

 

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

The exhibition was titled ‘Teavotion‘ and runs from 26 February to 3 April.  It presents ‘hundreds of teacosies alongside of a selection of photographic portraits by artist Mark Crocker.  Teavotion celebrates the tea cosy as a domestic icon and raises funds in support of Australian Red Cross.’  The teacosies were donated for sale by crafters and makers with all the proceeds going to charity.  The exhibition its self was held within the magnificent Bundoora Homestead Art Centre, Bundoora – Victoria (Bundoora Homestead Art Centre 2016).

 

 

 

 

Here below two tea cosies – One being a koala bear and the other a nurse both feature the red cross emblem

 

 

TEAVOTION EXHIBITION STATEMENT

Here below is what was posted on one of the walls of the exhibition as a statement about ‘Teavotion’:

Artists and crafters from across Australia display their creativity, passion, and imagination in this unique exhibition of over 380 tea cosies.  Teavotion celebrates the tea cosy as a domestic icon and raises funds in support of Australian Red Cross.  All of the handmade tea cosies have been donated for sale at the exhibition, with all proceeds going to the charity.

The creative responses to the humble teapot are many and varied.  From cuddly animals to abstract compositions, you will no doubt find cosies that are unusual and captivating.

Marg Lane and Maranne Noonan, who coordinated this exhibition, have done a marvelous job and Darebin City Council thanks them for their tremendous efforts.

This is the seventh time Bundoora Homestead has hosted the tea cosy exhibition.  Over the last few months the gallery has offered a free space for creative types to come together and knit and crochet towards their unique vision  In many ways this project is just as much about the joy of making and sharing together as it is to celebrate the creativity of others.

Teavotion also presents a series of photographs relating to tea cosies by Queensland based photographer Mark Crocker and from Thursday to Saturday throughout the exhibition artist in residence Phil Ferguson will be busy making new craft-based works.  Drop by and say hi!

 

 

 

No. 96 of 101 'Teavotion' Group Exhibition of 100's of Teacosies at Bundoora Homestead Arts Centre March 2016 photographed by Karen Robinson

No. 96 of 101 images:  Karen Robinson, that’s me standing by an amazing chair covered in tea cosies made by makers/crafters of the ‘Teavotion’ Group Exhibition featuring 100’s of Teacosies at Bundoora Homestead Arts Centre March 2016.  A striking work of art!  It was very tempting to sit on the chair to just see how comfortable it would be but alas the ‘DO NOT SIT’ sign was perfect to prevent any sitting actions…

 

 

THE TEA COSY STORY

The tea cosy story began in Britain in the 1660s when tea was introduced to Britain and its first documented use was in 1867. The tea cosy’s primary function was to keep the tea-pot warm by surrounding the teapot with an insulating cloth, so that affluent upper class women during their afternoon tea could chatter away, network, gossip without their tea getting cold.  Tea cosies were also a way for these same ladies to show off their needlework skills such as needlepoint, crewel, embroidery, ribbon work and were made from wool, cloth, lace and with some being crocheted or knitted.  The tea cosy became part of middle class households in the late Victorian era when tea became more affordable. Tea cosies began as tea-pot warmers, but over time, became themselves, an important historical story telling item about family history and culture through creative and unique designs, patterns and colours, and varying styles and materials.

 

 

MY MEMORIES OF THE TEA COSY AND TEA MAKING

My memories of making a cuppa for my mother still resonates strongly in my childhood memories.  Making a pot of tea, placing a tea cosy over it was a simple but important way to take a break in the day, to sit and just talk with my mother.  And there were the biscuits to accompany the cuppa as well which was just a wonderful treat.  These days it’s about coffee much more than tea but the process of taking time to choose a coffee and put a moment aside, to take time out of one’s daily life and have a cuppa, a chat, stills serves as an important ritual. I remember more about the act of tea making than the tea cosy but it was part of my early Australian family story.

 

 

EXTRAORDINARY TEA COSY DISPLAY

The creating and making of tea cosies, using unique designs and patterns, using multitudes of colour palates, extraordinary varieties of materials, masterfully executed by skillful hands – still lives on today.  I was able to witness some of these tea cosies works of art at this worthy ‘Teavotion’ exhibition and I was just so impressed with how imaginative these wonderful crafts people are and below are some photos of their tea cosy art works.

 

 

slide show of some of the tea cosies I viewed and photographed with my mobile phone camera at the ‘teavotion’ exhibition with the Epping poppy ladies

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

MY FAVOURITE TEA COSIES VIEWED ON THE DAY

 

 

CONCLUSION

The ‘Teavotion‘ Exhibition was an amazing way of viewing works of art done by community members for a good cause.  And this creative activity offers so much to many, being the makers of the humble tea cosies and those whom just came to view the art work itself.  It clearly reinforced, my strong belief that by helping people through the engagement of art, is a wonderful therapeutic process.  It does help, to improve people’s sense of worth, helps improve people’s well-being and assists with giving people meaning and purpose within their daily life. A great example of ‘Art for Therapy‘…

 

 

No. 33 of 101 'Teavotion' Group Exhibition of 100's of Teacosies at Bundoora Homestead Arts Centre March 2016 photographed by Karen Robinson

No. 33 of 101 ‘Teavotion’ Group Exhibition of 100’s of Teacosies at Bundoora Homestead Arts Centre March 2016 photographed by Karen Robinson

 

 

Copyright © Karen Robinson, March 2016

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page! My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

Group Exhibition – Titled “Reflections: Exploring Our Identities” – Karen Robinson Abstract Artist

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Photo featuring Karen Robinson - one of the carer group participants standing by her art work titled 'Heart of Treasured Memories'. Acrylic, Ink, Embroidered Flowers & Butterflies and Heart Sequins on Canvas. Event with the MIND Australia Organisation - Carer Group Exhibition, Northcote Townhall, Melbourne Australia 18th November 2015 NB: All images are protected by copyright laws!

Photo featuring Karen Robinson – one of the carer group participants standing by her art work titled ‘Heart of Treasured Memories’.  Acrylic, Ink, Embroidered Flowers & Butterflies and Heart Sequins on Canvas. Event with the MIND Australia Organisation – Carer Group Exhibition, Northcote Townhall, Melbourne Australia 18th November 2015 NB: All images are protected by copyright laws!

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Art exhibitions have taught me, that art can be a very powerful way to engage with others; a way to captivate an audience’s attention and convey a story about my inner most personal thoughts and emotions.  For myself especially – exhibiting my paintings has been about being able to communicate a soulful message, to highlight important issues; and to give the viewer something to mull over, well after viewing the art work itself.  Hence exhibiting paintings from my Abstract Art Portfolio, has been an important part of my art for therapy journey.

 

 

MY 2015 ART THERAPY & CREATIVE WRITING JOURNEY WITH MIND

Another important part of my art for therapy journey has been about taking part, in art therapy and creative writing sessions, with the MIND Australia Organisation throughout 2015.  These weekly art therapy and creative writing sessions, had enable us to have a space especially for oneself, and away from the daily grind of carer duties and responsibilities. During our sessions, with some amazing people whom were/are carers of loved ones experiencing mental health issues, we were able to bare our souls in a safe and secure environment, with the support of our peers and support from experienced facilitators.  At times, we found ourselves confronting and exploring dark thoughts, traumatic past experiences and/or distressing emotions/situations of the day, which became evident via our art therapy and creative writing sharing processes.  Sure – not every week was a joy, the carer role for some was heart wrenching and at times soul-destroying, but improvements could be seen in our abilities to bounce back, better than earlier on, in that same year. Throughout the 2015’s participation and especially towards the end of that year, I found myself, mentally and emotionally in a far better place – my sense of well-being had truly improved.  I witnessed this also, with others whom I had shared this journey; you could recognise the improvements in their voices, by the smiles on their faces, within their greetings with one another, and in their general composure from week to week.  Towards the end of the year,  I really got a sense that this process was most worthy and important – it makes people better able to deal with ones daily doings.

 

 

Featuring Karen Robinson during a MIND art therapy session writing her painting story titled 'Heart of Treasured Memories' for the 'Reflections Carer Group Exhibition' 2015

Featuring Karen Robinson during a MIND art therapy session writing her painting story titled ‘Heart of Treasured Memories’ for the ‘Reflections Carer Group Exhibition’ 2015  NB:  All images are protected by copyright laws!

 

 

GROUP PROJECT – ‘EXPLORING OUR IDENTITIES’ 

As time past – within the year of 2015, it was decided we would embark on a single painting project each.   We each painted a painting, that reflected our carer roles and how that played out within our lives; and how that made us view ourselves as people.  I asked, if I could take some photographs in each session of my progress which prompted the MIND Facilitator to ask me to take photographs of all the participants at each session, and with their consent, and I did do just that!  NB:  Due to privacy concerns, only photographs of myself as a participant are shown within this weblog page – I hope you will understand.

 

 

 

 

CARER GROUP EXHIBITION:  ‘REFLECTIONS’

As time progressed further, a decision was made that we would take up an opportunity to exhibit our works of art and our creative writing stories.  MIND Australia graciously agreed to having such an event titled ‘Reflections – Exploring Our Identities’ which took place at the Northcote Townhall, Northcote, Melbourne, Australia.  It was a one day event where family, friends and MIND Australia members of staff attended, along side of the exhibiting participants and our MIND Australia Facilitator Gillian Scaduto, Art Therapist Facilitator Vicky Nickolls and Creative Writing Facilitator Judy Bird.

 

 

 

 

 

MY PAINTING THAT I EXHIBITED TITLED: ‘HEART OF TREASURED MEMORIES’

Each of us as participants exhibited our painting along with its painting story at the ‘Reflections’ Carer Group Exhibition 2015.  Following below is the painting I exhibited along with its painting story:

 

Painting No. 63 - Title "Heart of Treasured Memories" Oct/Nov/Dec 2015 - by Abstract Artist: Karen Robinson All images are protected by copyright laws!

Painting No. 63 – Title “Heart of Treasured Memories” Oct/Nov/Dec 2015 – by Abstract Artist: Karen Robinson All images are protected by copyright laws!

 

 

  • Acrylic/Ink/Sequins/Embroidered Flowers & Butterflies on Canvas
  • 2015
  • 79cms Length x 74cms Wide x 0cms Deep NB: Not framed just bare edged canvas backed onto strip of timber for hanging

 

‘HEART OF TREASURED MEMORIES’ PAINTING STORY

 

My art therapy artwork was inspired by words I had spoken some years ago during an interview with TAC about my use of art as therapy in dealing with grief and despair which I had been experiencing since the loss of my son Ben, in a single vehicle car crash on 5 November 2009. These words that I had said were “I need to hold the best of Ben in my heart”. So it was these words that inspired me to firstly create a large pink heart that heart would not just hold the memories of my son Ben, but it should also hold the best of memories of those dearest to me being my husband, my daughter and my sister as well. I surrounded my heart of memories in a beautiful warm tangerine colour. At the top of the canvas are small blackish shadows which are representative of dark clouds and the tiny blue heart sequins are tears of love which have fallen from the clouds. I placed a bright blue line above the heart which is like a catchment of these tears, but still there are some that fall upon the heart of memories. On the base of the canvas, I placed a dark green line being a place of growth, a pretty flower garden of joy and peace featuring delightful green butterflies of hope, floating up in and around my heart of memories. Within my heart of treasured memories are beautiful flowers and sparkling green glittered stems. Surrounding my heart, I have written words about my loved ones and I wrote them especially small so that the viewer of my artwork would need to come up close to read my precious words and these are those words: “Try to build in my heart the best of those I love, my darling dear husband whom I treasure, who has been so good to me throughout all the years of our marriage; my sweet, loving, caring daughter who is strong and gentle to her parents at the same time, my sister whom I have shared many troubles with – we are still talking; and my son gone but never forgotten – we miss you forever”.

© Karen Robinson, December 2015

 

 

REFLECTIONS BOOKLET & PHOTO-STORY MOVIE

Over the course of 2015’s art therapy and creative writing sessions, where I had been asked to take photographs of us as participants, I was able to ‘photo-story’ document our journey.  Some of these photos were used by MIND Australia to produce a booklet for our Carer Group Exhibition ‘Reflections – Exploring Our Identities’ 2015.  It was after reviewing all the photos for this project, that I became inspired to see if I could make a ‘Photo-Story Movie’ which I did do – see below especially edited version.  Prior to showing the movie at the Exhibition Opening Event, participants had the opportunity of viewing it beforehand, to ensure that they would be happy with it being publicly shown at the exhibition.  The response both from the participants and from all at the opening event was very moving – they all got it!  It was a photo-story of the lives of these people whom had shared deeply personal stories, over the year, including me and we could all appreciate that we had come a long way in our journeys.  It was there to be seen in the ‘Photo-Story Movie’ (Full Version) – a precious memento, a gift to them from me.  I found it to be a very touching and humbling experience.  It was an outcome I would have never expected, but so grateful for having had, and thanks to these people for sharing their precious stories via their paintings and creative writing.  Due to respecting the privacy of each participant, the following ‘Photo-Story Movie’ below is an edited version, and only features myself and my photo-story journey.  MIND Australia has asked if they could use the full version, which I have enthusiastically approved of and handed across recently for their use. They have indicated that it should be available on their website sometime during 2016.

 

 

NB:  Please click on link to view the ‘Reflections Exhibition’ booklet PDF – FINAL Mind_Reflections_ExhibitionBooklet_final

 

MY CREATIVE WRITING PIECES INCLUDED IN THE BOOKLET AND EXHIBITED

There were three creative writing pieces that were accepted to be exhibited that I had written during my creative writing sessions. These were included in the MIND Australia ‘Reflections Exhibition – Exploring Our Identities’ booklet as well. These creative writing pieces I especially chose to exhibit, because of the feelings and emotions they had evoked when I wrote them, and they are as following:

 

No. 1 – Title: “The Happy Box”

 

My greatest life-long challenge has been to become an expert at being a fully-functional human being. I have learned to treasure the smallest of delights and recall them in my melancholy moments; to use them to uplift my spirits, when day-to-day life has failed to do so. To help me gain this sense of expertise in being a fully-functional human being, I just recently developed a system for myself, and I called it the ‘happy box’! I ask myself each day, is what I am going to be doing this day, going to tick the ‘happy box’? And if the answer is yes, then it is included within my daily doings, and if the answer is no, I take the time out to ask myself, why do it at all in that case? My mental well-being has greatly benefited from this approach – this fully-functional human being challenge – feeling good about life. Thank you ‘happy box’…”
© Karen Robinson,2015

 

 

No. 2 – Title: “How Precious Time Is…”

 

Just sit here while I walk across here to get your script.” My husband dutifully sat, looking pale, weak and sickly. I was afraid he would not live through those terrible chemotherapy treatments. This experience that I shared with him has left me understanding how precious our time together has been, and is still today!”
© Karen Robinson, 2015

 

 

No. 3 – Title: “Support”

 

Support me please! I need your support, don’t turn away and leave me standing here alone and destitute, I need you. I know, I know, I am a pain and I know I ask for too much, but don’t leave me – I will not make it without you – come back – don’t go. It’s OK, I can be strong, I will be strong, I will support me, I can do it – yes I have done it – thank self…”
© Karen Robinson, 2015

 

 

Creative Writing Pieces written by the group 2015 and displayed at the 'Reflections Carer Group Exhibition - Exploring Our Identities' at Northcote Townhall, Melbourne, Australia 18.11. 2015 Copyright protected.jpg

Creative Writing Pieces written by the group 2015 and displayed at the ‘Reflections Carer Group Exhibition – Exploring Our Identities’ at Northcote Townhall, Melbourne, Australia 18.11. 2015 NB:  All images are protected by copyright laws!JPEG

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

The process of painting, painting story writing, creative writing and photo-taking has offered me a way of expressing thoughts and emotions which can be difficult to say out loud. I also came to understanding that painting and creative writing can be a very powerful way of communicating with others. Therapy via these processes have given me a voice and my art and creative writing therapy journey has become an important part of my life in recent years and still will be an important part of my life in years to come.

I am hoping that by sharing my art and creative writing therapy journey, will inspire others, to take up art and creative writing therapy to find their voice – in order to be able to move forward in most difficult of times. These therapies have brought me now to a much better place where I find myself being able to seek joy in every day. As an ongoing process, I will be blogging about my art and creative writing therapy journey “moving forward” and expand on how others have used/are using art therapy to assist physical and emotional well-being. I hope you will join me!

 

© Karen Robinson, October 2015

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page! My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.

See the fireworks ido art karen robinson created by blogging on WordPress.com. Check out their 2015 annual report.

Source: See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.

My Volunteering

Source: My Volunteering

Abstract Painting No. 45E Titled 'Reaching Out To Sons' Acrylic on Canvas 91cms Length x 91cms Wide x 3cms Deep by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist - 2011 NB All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

Abstract Painting No. 45E Titled ‘Reaching Out To Sons’ Acrylic on Canvas 91cms Length x 91cms Wide x 3cms Deep by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist – 2011.  Inspired by telling my family’s road trauma story at Road Trauma awareness Seminars most months since March 2011 about my son Ben who was killed in a single vehicle car crash on 5th November 2009 – in the hope that RTAS participants, repeat road traffic offenders will rethink about their risky driver behaviour and in turn save lives, reduce serious injury and lessen the ripple effect of road trauma.  Painting story/meaning can be found within this weblog page for ‘My Volunteering’.  NB:  All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

 

This is a new weblog page I have added which is about my volunteering with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV).  I have been doing this most worthy task since the beginning of 2011 – in memory of my son who was killed in a single vehicle car crash, at the age of 25 on the 5th November 2009…Please click here to view…Karen Robinson

While you are here – please check out my home page!

 

Group Exhibition – Titled: “AS IF: When and Now” at Queen Victoria Women’s Centre – Karen Robinson Abstract Artist

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No. 4 of 28 Group Exhibition titled 'AS IF When and Now' Women's Art Register at Queen Victoria Women's Centre Melbourne Photographed by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist 1.10.2015.JPG

No. 4 of 28 Group Exhibition titled ‘AS IF When and Now’ Women’s Art Register at Queen Victoria Women’s Centre Melbourne – Karen Robinson Abstract Artist standing by stand with information about the group exhibition – Photographed by Karen’s Hubby 1.10.2015.JPG

 

INTRODUCTION

Art exhibitions have taught me, that art can be a very powerful way to engage with others; a way to captivate an audience’s attention and convey a story about my inner most personal thoughts and emotions.  For myself especially – exhibiting my paintings has been about being able to communicate a soulful message, to highlight important issues; and to give the viewer something to mull over, well after viewing the art work itself.  Hence exhibiting paintings from my Abstract Art Portfolio, has been an important part of my ‘art for therapy’ journey.  NB:  Am now listed as one of ‘Women’s Art Register’s’ Star Artists

 

No. 16 of 28 Group Exhibition titled 'AS IF When and Now' Women's Art Register at Queen Victoria Women's Centre Melbourne Photographed by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist 1.10.2015.JPG

No. 16 of 28 Group Exhibition titled ‘AS IF When and Now’ Women’s Art Register at Queen Victoria Women’s Centre Melbourne – featuring Karen Robinson’s Abstract Painting ‘A Celebration of Womanhood’ on the far left hand side of photo with Karen Robinson in the background.  Photographed by Karen’s Hubby 1.10.2015.JPG

 

GROUP EXHIBITION TITLED ‘AS IF: WHEN AND NOW’

On Thursday the 1st October, 2015 I had the opportunity to be part of a group exhibition titled AS IF: When and Now – Artists from the Women’s Art register/past and present at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre Gallery, Ground Floor, 210 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne – Australia.  The gallery space inhabits this building’s glorious historical tessellated entrance foyer and expansive corridor with soaring ceilings which is amongst women specific organisations.  Thus enabling the gallery space to be most fitting for artists from the Women’s Art Register, to exhibit and celebrate 40 years of insisting that women’s art matters (W.A.R. 2015).  The exhibition was Curated by Gail Stiffe and Rosemary Mangiamele and opens on the 30th September and closes on 30th October 2015.

 

No. 4 of 28 Group Exhibition titled 'AS IF When and Now' Women's Art Register at Queen Victoria Women's Centre Melbourne Photographed by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist 1.10.2015.JPG

No. 4 of 28 Group Exhibition titled ‘AS IF When and Now’ Women’s Art Register at Queen Victoria Women’s Centre Melbourne – Featuring a plague with wording that evokes the importance of recognising the need to make sure women have the ability to enrich their lives….  Photographed by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist 1.10.2015.JPG

 

WHAT DOES ART DO FOR THE ART-MAKER?

This group exhibition focuses on what art does for the art-maker.  Artworks selected were based upon the artist’s response to the question of ‘what does art making mean to you/what role has/does art making play in your life?‘.  My answer to this question was the following:

My name is Karen Robinson and I am a painter, story-teller, photo-taker and blogger. I am a self-taught artist, having taken up my childhood love of painting again, later in my adult life. As inspiration for my artwork, I draw on feelings and emotions evoked by situations experienced throughout my life, such as great family moments, family tragedy, career experiences, travelling adventures, current local and world events. With painting, I explore colour and shape as an intuitive way of conveying my story. Once I have completed a painting, I then write its story, so that the viewer may have a clearer understanding about me as an artist and about the painting itself. Art gave me a voice when words were hard to find, or when I did find the words, too hard to say out loud. It gave me a way of moving forward in the most difficult of times… I came to understand that art can be a very powerful way of communication with others…

 

No. 8 of 28 Group Exhibition titled 'AS IF When and Now' Women's Art Register at Queen Victoria Women's Centre Melbourne Photographed by Hubby of Karen Robinson Abstract Artist 1.10.2015.JPG

No. 8 of 28 Group Exhibition titled ‘AS IF When and Now’ Women’s Art Register at Queen Victoria Women’s Centre Melbourne – Karen Robinson standing beside her painting titled ‘A Celebration of Womanhood’ 2014 Acrylic on Canvas –  Photographed by Hubby of Karen 1.10.2015.JPG

 

ART WORK CHOSEN FOR THE GROUP EXHIBITION

Choosing an abstract painting for this particular exhibition wasn’t difficult when considering the exhibition’s focus.  I decided it would be my abstract painting No. 56 Titled:  ‘A Celebration of Womanhood‘.

Abstract Painting No. 56 Titled 'A Celebration of Womanhood' Acrylic on Canvas 97cms Length x 102cms Wide x 3cms Deep by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist - August 2014.JPG

Abstract Painting No. 56 Titled ‘A Celebration of Womanhood’ Acrylic on Canvas 97cms Length x 102cms Wide x 3cms Deep by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist – August 2014.JPG

 

MY PAINTING STORY

Below is my painting story for the above painting ‘A Celebration of Womanhood‘ which I wrote in August 2014.  It is deeply personal but I feel every woman will be able to relate to, understand and appreciate…

My art journey has been about being able to find meaning and purpose in everyday. Much of my earlier art work has been about very personal feelings, emotions and thoughts about loss and grief. But slowly and surely, art has brought me to a place where I look for joy in each and every day!

This painting story will show that art needs to also be about finding your sense of humour, to have a laugh about yourself, a bit of a giggle – it can put a smile on your face and a skip in your step. So I am hoping that by sharing what this following painting was inspired by, will give you a bit of a giggle too. Don’t be surprised and please know it is done in the best of taste. I really wasn’t sure if I was going to share this painting story but after originally promising myself, when I first started painting that I would always be open and honest about my art journey, I realised there should be no exceptions to that promise to myself.

During a recent visit to The Royal Women’s Hospital with the Women’s Health Clinic for a Urogynaecology consultation, I experienced a pelvic floor examination. Now, to my shame, it had been many years since I had such an examination. It is not exactly what every women looks forward to having done. It can be embarrassing but I thought to myself, well I am too old now to be embarrassed and followed through with what was required of me during my examination. All was good until I saw the look on the women’s face, the face of the consultant. Well I was all ‘au naturale’ and perhaps this was just too much of a shock for her or perhaps when you get on in old age, ones private parts are just not that attractive anymore! After asking me a range of standard Urogynaecology consultant type questions, I felt in some regards relieved and in other regards, mildly disturbed.

It brought to my mind thoughts about what women have to go through just by being a woman. First we grow breasts and get periods, we learn about sex, then it is the incredible experience of pregnancy and the birth of children, then it is menopause and then it’s a – Urogynaecology consultation! Our poor bodies do have to go through many changes throughout our lives.

This must have been playing on my mind because on my return home that day, I decided to start another painting. I got the new white canvas out and began to draw directly onto the canvas as per usual for me. During the process, the lines and swirls began to form an image to me – it looked like a vagina. I thought yes – it is a vagina! I decided that I wanted to paint with all new colours, bright, happy, joyful and beautiful colours; colours that would celebrate women’s womanhood – this strange and interesting journey we embark on throughout the course of our lives…

Written by © Karen Robinson August 2014

 

PHOTO GALLERY OF EXHIBITION

As my husband and I strolled around the gallery space and read the stories that accompanied the art works, I couldn’t help feeling that I was in a special place.  It was just so peaceful and it was easy to become lost in the art work itself.  But in saying this the true star of the exhibition was the building – the very beautiful Queen Victoria Women’s Centre.

 

No. 19 of 28 Group Exhibition titled 'AS IF When and Now' Women's Art Register at Queen Victoria Women's Centre Melbourne Photographed by Hubby of Karen Robinson Abstract Artist 1.10.2015.JPG

No. 19 of 28 Group Exhibition titled ‘AS IF When and Now’ Women’s Art Register at Queen Victoria Women’s Centre Melbourne – Karen Robinson Abstract Artist admiring another artist’s artwork – Photographed by Hubby of Karen 1.10.2015.JPG

No. 5 of 28 Group Exhibition titled 'AS IF When and Now' Women's Art Register at Queen Victoria Women's Centre Melbourne Photographed by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist 1.10.2015.JPG

No. 5 of 28 Group Exhibition titled ‘AS IF When and Now’ Women’s Art Register at Queen Victoria Women’s Centre Melbourne – Karen’s Hubby reading up on the exhibition details in the beautiful entrance of the gallery space.  Photographed by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist 1.10.2015.JPG

 

AFTER THE EXHIBITION IT WAS TIME FOR COFFEE!

After viewing the exhibition my dear husband and I walked towards the back of the magnificent Queen Victoria Women’s Centre only to discover a delightful courtyard surrounded by tall city buildings.  Here we found an irresistible Max Brenner Chocolate Shop where we ordered coffee and sat by the window looking out onto the court-yard, admiring the beautiful Melbourne spring day.

 

No. 27 of 28 Group Exhibition titled 'AS IF When and Now' Women's Art Register at Queen Victoria Women's Centre Melbourne Photographed by Hubby of Karen Robinson Abstract Artist 1.10.2015.JPG

No. 27 of 28 Group Exhibition titled ‘AS IF When and Now’ Women’s Art Register at Queen Victoria Women’s Centre Melbourne – Karen Robinson Abstract Artist looking out from the Chocolate Shop towards the court-yard behind the centre.  Photographed by Hubby of Karen Robinson Abstract Artist 1.10.2015.JPG

CONCLUSION

M‘art for therapy’ journey has once again given me an opportunity to share my experience.  How lucky am I to have had this opportunity to exhibit a of my abstract paintings at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre with the Women’s Art Register organisation.  And it was a wonderful bonus, in being able to spend, a lovely day with my dear husband, on one of Melbourne’s beautiful spring days!  Art therapy – at its best for sure….

© Karen Robinson, October 2015

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

Art Therapy Group Session Seven – September 2015 “Third Step of Group Project” by Karen Robinson

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INTRODUCTION

This month being our seventh group art therapy session and our third group project session, we continued to work dutifully on our individual works.  Once completed, all participants artworks will be grouped together.  This unity of artwork will then become a representation of ‘what it is like to be a carer of a love one who has been somehow impacted by mental health issues’ and ‘how being a carer for said has impacted on our lives and the lives of others within our families’.  NB:  To view details regarding previous stages – please click here.

 

No. 9 of 17 Art Therapy Sessions 14th & 17th Sept 2015 Karen Robinson-Abstract Artist working on own individual art work-all images copyright protected.JPG

No. 9 of 17 Art Therapy Sessions 14th & 17th Sept 2015 Karen Robinson-Abstract Artist working on own individual art work.  All images copyright protected.JPG

 

STEP THREE AT THE SESSION AND AT MY HOME STUDIO

 

  • Little Bright Blue Love Heart Sequins

During this session, I decided to add little bright blue love heart sequins to the top of my painting. These love hearts are representative of all the tears that I have shed over the loss of my son, tears of love.

No. 12 of 17 Art Therapy Sessions 14th & 17th Sept 2015 Karen Robinson-Abstract Artist working on own individual art work-all images copyright protected.JPG

No. 12 of 17 Art Therapy Sessions 14th & 17th Sept 2015 Karen Robinson-Abstract Artist working on own individual art work.  NB:  All images copyright protected.JPG

I used a wooden stick with craft glue at the end of it and ran the tiny love heart sequins across it to catch just enough glue that would ensure the sequins would adhere to the canvas.  The craft glue dries clear so it didn’t matter much if a little ran over a bit at the sides onto the canvas itself.

No. 4 of 17 Art Therapy Sessions 14th & 17th Sept 2015 Karen Robinson-Abstract Artist working on own individual art work-all images copyright protected.JPG

No. 4 of 17 Art Therapy Sessions 14th & 17th Sept 2015 Karen Robinson-Abstract Artist working on own individual art work.  All images copyright protected.JPG

 

  • String Of Words Around The Large Pink Heart

On my return home to my studio with my art work, I decided to write a string of words around the outside of the large pink heart in black felt pen. As the words are very personal, I wanted the viewer to become very personal with the artwork its self, so I deliberately wrote the words very small so that the viewer of the artwork would need to go up to it very closely to read the words.  These are the words:  “Try to build in my heart the best of those I love, my darling dear husband whom I treasure, who has been so good to me throughout all the years of our marriage; my sweet, loving, caring daughter who is strong and gentle to her parents at the same time, my sister whom I have shared many troubles with – we are still talking; and my son gone but never forgotten – we miss you forever”.

No. 15 of 17 Art Therapy Sessions 14th & 17th Sept 2015 Karen Robinson-Abstract Artist working on own individual art work-all images copyright protected.JPG

No. 15 of 17 Art Therapy Sessions 14th & 17th Sept 2015 Karen Robinson-Abstract Artist working on own individual art work-all images copyright protected.JPG

 

  • A Symphony of Joyful Artist Endeavour – Butterflies, Flowers and Glitter!

After the above process was completed and had throughly dried, I decided I want to add small green and pink flower shaped sequins, small green satin butterflies, orange with yellow on top beaded satin flowers and green glitter to the stems of the flowers.  It became a symphony of joyful artist endeavour which I really enjoyed doing.

 

  • Signed, Photographed And Varnish

Once I felt I had added enough of the flower sequins, satin butterflies and flowers, I signed and photographed the artwork.  I will now give it a coat of varnish to help preserve it.  Once dry it will be ready to take back to our next session where we are going to be discussing how we will bring all the participants artworks together to exhibit – details will follow once finalised.

 

  • Finished Art Work – yet to be titled!

Whilst the painting is now finished and awaits the last part of our art therapy group project to be completed – we will soon have the creative writing facilitator come into our session and help us write a story about our paintings.

 

No. 17 of 17 Art Therapy Sessions 14th & 17th Sept 2015 Karen Robinson-Abstract Artist working on own individual art work-all images copyright protected.JPG

No. 17 of 17 Art Therapy Sessions 14th & 17th Sept 2015 Karen Robinson-Abstract Artist working on own individual art work-all images copyright protected.JPG

 

CONCLUSION

At the completion of our art therapy sessions we pack up and head across to the local restaurant for a bite to eat and a friendly chat. It’s a great way to finish up on a positive note and it always works for me…

No. 2 of 17 Art Therapy Sessions 14th & 17th Sept 2015 Karen Robinson-Abstract Artist working on own individual art work-all images copyright protected.JPG

No. 2 of 17 Art Therapy Sessions 14th & 17th Sept 2015 Karen Robinson-Abstract Artist working on own individual art work-all images copyright protected.JPG

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog series “Art Therapy Group Sessions 2015“, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session.  I hope you will understand.

© Karen Robinson, September 2015

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

Art as Therapy

My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and story telling…by Karen Robinson.  Please click here for my latest blog news!

My art therapy journey has been a solo experience up until mid 2014, meaning without any outside influences or company. It has been a very personal endeavour and one that at first was just for me. Over recent years though, I began to share some of my art work through group exhibitions which has been enlightening and revealing. It was through these exhibitions that I learned about the power of art as a form of self-expression; a way to empower a person with a visual voice, when words are too had to find…

Now that I have had the opportunity to complete numerous art therapy sessions in 2014 and now this lot in 2015, I have found it has shown me, that we all need to find ways of being able to express our thoughts, feelings and emotions in a safe and secure environment. Art therapy sessions can be, in my opinion, a wonderful way for people to be able to do just that – feel free to explore what makes them tick! To get us thinking about what is truly going on in our lives that may be holding us back from enjoying life to the full. Art for therapy at its best I feel….

Please click the link Art as Therapy to read about my research, understanding and YouTubes on this subject.

1 of 3 Art Therapy Session 24.8.2015 Karen Robinson - Abstract Artist painting on square canvas with acrylic paint being first stage in painting production for group project NB Images are protected by copyright.JPG

1 of 3 Art Therapy Session 24.8.2015 Karen Robinson – Abstract Artist painting on square canvas with acrylic paint being first stage in painting production for group project NB Images are protected by copyright.JPG

My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and story telling…by Karen Robinson.  Please click here for my latest blog news!

© Karen Robinson, September 2015

Art Therapy Humour – “Looking at life as if it were a work of art…”

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Art Therapy Humour - Cartoon by 'dorrismccomics.com' Comments by Karen Robinson "Looking at life as if it were a work of art"....

Art Therapy Humour – Cartoon by ‘dorrismccomics.com’ Comments by Karen Robinson “Looking at life as if it were a work of art”….

 

Over the last eight years, I have been using art for therapy, so my story comes from the practice of art for therapy as an individual visual artist/story-teller/photo-taker and also as a participant within art therapy and creative writing groups; and not from a professional art therapist stance. But in saying this, I feel I have been learning from personal experience the practices and benefits of said, in a way that has given me an insightful understanding of its incredible ability to improve ones sense of wellbeing.

When it came to deciding to blog about my art for therapy journey – I firstly struggled to make the final decision, to blog about this most vulnerable part of my life, with honesty and an openness that would bare my soul to the ‘world-wide web’; to be fearless. The outcome has been just amazing from many different perspectives. It has been, and continues to be, one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life. I approach each blog with a great sense of being real and true to myself, in the hope that by sharing, will inspire others to take up art for therapy, in order to improve their sense of wellbeing – it has improved mine.

When I first looked at this cartoon pictured above and produced by ‘dorrismccomics.com’ – these words sprang to mind “Looking at life as if it were a work of art…”.  I have always loved how cartoonists seem to be able to capture a thought, a moment so simply within just a few lines and squiggles.  This cartoon captures it well, we try to create our lives in an orderly fashion, in a sequenced way but sometimes in just goes beyond ourselves; we get to paint outside the lines and we end up with a creation that is unique to each of us…

© Karen Robinson, September 2015

 

Whilst you are here – please check out my my home page!  I hope you will continue to join on my art therapy journey…Karen Robinson