Art therapy and the Brighton Girl

You know that corner cupboard?

That one you have baked beans in that went off six years ago, but you can’t quite reach.

Where you store that contraption you don’t quite understand but you couldn’t possibly throw away as your mother in-law bought it for you. Or where you throw the household miscellaneous junk into and hope to ever forget it’s ever there.

Corner cupboards definitely serve a purpose, but why on earth do they require you to angle half of your body in the most awkward way if you ever want to retrieve anything?

Well just for fun, lets imagine the corner cupboard is our brain.

To name a few, there’s the part of our brain that stores those dilemmas or barneys that we can quite understand, but we hold on to.

There’s the filing cabinet of memories we readily access to stir up some fluffy feelings or self-pity, and the cobwebs and cretins of ex-partners who lurk and creep around, and the self conscious, doubtful, isolated parts that whirl.

There’s the everyday trunk you cram full of work, and then there’s the deep dark corner we can't quiet reach or see - the unconscious.

Art making has been proven to be a direct way to connect with our unconscious.

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As children we made art freely, painting and coloring for delight. It was self-expression and discovery at its finest.

Then, later down the line, we would be taught what good and bad art was, giving rise to that crippling, heartbreaking story that turned our relationship with art on its head and produced the saying “I can’t draw, I can only do stick men”.

Breathe a sigh of relief, as art therapy has nothing to do with painting or drawing ‘properly’ or ‘well’.

We love stick men. For us to use art as therapy we simply need to get back to basics and enjoy the pleasure and power of making a mark on a page.

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We all have those days as Brighton girls where we find ourselves completely incapable of stringing words together in a sentence, or where we just want the ground to swallow us whole.

Maybe these days are just warning signs that there’s a little too much crammed in the corner cupboard.

Time to make art!

Does it have to be something? No.

Could it mean something? Always, because it’s a part of you.

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Grab some paper, some paint, pens or oil pastels and simply enjoy making marks; see what happens and what appears in mark making. This is a great way to use art as therapy for you.

Don’t be fooled by the colouring book era of ‘art therapy’, they just coined our word. Colouring in the lines can be fun, but don’t you do that all day?

So Brighton Girls, I invite you to fall out of love with that crippling ‘can’t do art’ story and fall in love with emptying the corner cupboard, clearing your head, processing what is going on and injecting joy, meaning and pride back into your relationship with art.

You do live in Brighton after all.

Written by Annabel Heal, Art Psychotherapist.

Find out more about Annabel and her work by visiting her website annabelheal.com.

Brighton Girl