I ran a Kintsugi inspired workshop with my partner, Mandy Bruce and wanted to share some thoughts and images of the beautiful work made by the participants (all of whom have given permission for me to do so).
The workshop was an amazing affirmation of how powerful the combination of the arts and shared story can be.
We began by everyone saying something about the object they had brought in to mend and from the very outset it was clear that the objects held both meaning and memory, both loss and longing and both attachment and tenderness. The conversation ebbed and flowed throughout the making/repairing process and what struck me was how embodied this process was.
Whilst the hands were busy in their tasks of non-verbal expression through art-making, the cognitive function was active in the talking through of what it was they were experiencing. This embodied process shed light on how the making, playing and experimenting with art, supports feeling and shared empathy. It was really a joy to be a part of.
I’ve been to a couple of great workshops in the past few weeks, one to learn Kintsugi and one using clay as a tool for reflection on body image. Perhaps it’s a January thing, I’m not sure, but both reminded me of the importance of shared learning and how being a part of a group allowed for the sharing of stories and personal histories to be heard. It also felt good to begin the year naming, out loud, reflections on the past along with passions and motivations for the future.
Kintsugi feels like it’s becoming more and more relevant in my thinking, the focus on the act of repair, in psychotherapeutic terms, represents the symbolic act of emotional or psychological repair. In Kintsugi, broken piece are brought together to make the object whole again.The seams of gold or silver become visible scars of the objects history, not to be hidden but seen and beautified.Interestingly, the mending process make the objects stronger.
Clay continues to be a great resource, a bit like an emotional ‘pick-me-up’. And, in practical terms, the two are made for each other.
Learning Kintsugi and working with clay had similar properties, they were both absorbing, creative activities that brought my focus into the present moment and the task at hand. Contact with clay has the power to connect or re-connect me with an embodied sense of self. I find there is a transmutable quality between thought, contact and form. This is transformational in itself but it also offers space, both mentally and emotionally and with space comes perspective and with perspective decisions can become clearer, emotions can feel less overwhelming or perhaps the space allows for feeling itself. Whatever the creative act allows for, space, felt emotions, I think that this enables our authentic selves to flourish.
Research done by the APPGAHW – The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Well being on, ‘Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Well Being’, found that, ‘The arts can help keep us well, aid our recovery and support longer lives better lived.’ A beautifully clear message. Alongside the research, the APPGAHW commissioned artist David Shrigley to create some images. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the art of Kintsugi when I saw them.