Taking A Line For A Walk

This is a challenging time.  I certainly haven’t experienced anything like it.  I’m imagining that for most, being housebound and maintaining social isolation are boundaries never before experienced.  And how much more challenging it is to learn to cope with new experiences and life changes, whilst also feeling anxious or witnessing those around us as such.

I wanted to write a post that could offer some support in managing anxiety.  As an art therapist, I’ve both experienced and witnessed, the power creativity has in being able to calm the nervous system.  A combination of simple breath exercises and art making, can help bring a person into a more present and calm state of mind.  It’s a simple way of soothing the nervous system.  

I’ve written some simple steps to follow.  Have a read through and if you think this is something for you, give it a go.  You can let me know how you get on and if you would like to send me a picture of your work, I will try to find a way of presenting a collective, online gallery. 

1. Clear a space for yourself somewhere in your home. Somewhere where you can sit comfortably and use a pen and paper.  If you can, clear away any clutter. Think of making a mini environment for yourself that is both pleasant and tranquil to be in.

2. Bring some paper and drawing materials into your environment, actively invite them into your    space.  Whatever you have to hand will suffice.  It could be the back of an envelope or writing paper, a pen, pencil or biro.

3. Sit in the space you have created. Feel your sit bones connect to the chair, ground, cushion, whatever you have chosen to sit on. If your feet are on the ground, feel how the earth is supporting them. Place your hands on top of your thighs and take five deep breathes, inhaling and exhaling slowly and fully. Next, pick up your pen or pencil and take it for a walk across the paper.  Doodle, make shapes, patterns, scribbles, circles, whatever direction your hand chooses to take, just observe it. When you have finished making shapes on the page, put your pen down and this is the hard bit!  Try to look at your image with curiosity and wonder, without judgements, assumptions or criticism.  Perhaps you might see forms, patterns, faces, or other images emerge, or you might not.  

4. Next, take a new sheet of paper and write down some of your thoughts, feelings and sensations.

5. When you have finished, notice how you feel and if the exercise has helped. If you think it has, offer yourself the possibility of coming back to this space and repeating the exercise. 

It can be helpful to date your work so as to keep a kind of creative journal.  

Creative journaling can be a useful way in both noticing your psychological and emotional journey through this difficult time. It can also help to discharge some of the anxiety by quite literally putting the feeling ‘down’ on paper. 

New Workshop Dates-1st, 8th, 15th August

I have three new dates for a course of Kintsugi inspired workshops this coming August. I’ll be running them with my partner Mandy Bruce at the Exchange in Twickenham.

If you’d like to know some more about them, please let me know and I’d be happy to answer any questions or queries.

The workshops can be booked as a course or individually.



Healing Through Creativity


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.


Two Workshops


Images 1&2

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.

Image 3&4



Links-                                                                                                 https://www.kintsugioxford.com.


Click to access Creative_Health_Inquiry_Report_2017_-_Second_Edition.pdf

Images-                                                                                                                                                              1&2 A small Kintsugi repair on one of my porcelain sculptures

3&4 Drawings by David Shrigley for APPGAHW


Kintsugi Inspired Workshop

Since writing my last post, I have been developing a series of workshops that draw from the philosophy of Kintsugi and invited friend and fellow art psychotherapist to help me run them.

Kintsugi is the ancient Japanese art of mending a broken piece of pottery with lacquered gold.  The tradition began as an aesthetically pleasing solution to mending a precious tea bowl in the 15th century.  Its philosophy however, is rooted in the idea that an object’s history becomes the very thing that makes the object more precious and by enhancing its ‘brokenness’, which becomes part of its ‘story’,  it becomes that much more beautiful. 

As I mentioned before, Peter Levine compared Kintsugi to how we might view someone who has been through any number of life’s challenges such as; trauma, bereavement or loss and see that person as more beautiful with the marks of their experience as visible signs of their life’s journey. 

How wonderful then to embrace our imperfections, our fragility, our tender hearts and celebrate these as part of our humanity, particularly in a time where culture not only encourages the opposite but rewards it. 

So the aim of these workshops are to bring a little bit of Kintsugi into your life.  

I will post dates, times and more details soon.