I recently set up a Facebook Group called 'Creative Courage' as a forum for all of us who live a creative life and advocate for creative living, both in terms of how we make art but also what that art means and its ability to change lives, our own and those of others. Art has the capacity to heal, and creative living means we have the capacity to do things differently, to break down perceived ways of being and make changes for the better.
I want to offer a supported environment to talk about what it means to be creative and find a network of support for our creative journey.
This month I have asked Nina Tara from 'Courageous Art' about her own courageous journey with her creativity:
Tell us about your creative journey and the recent changes that you’ve been through.
Ahhh … great question! Well, take a seat and I’ll tell you about my journey of comfort, fear, risk and daring adventures! To be honest, I think we are all on a constant journey of growth. The trick is to learn how to LISTEN, UNDERSTAND and CHANGE to meet our own needs. (One of my favourite phrases to keep me on my path!)
My personal journey began about 6 years ago after losing my mum from dementia and renal failure. Also, becoming disillusioned in my creative life as a Designer and the changes in the industry that meant less ownership of the work I was creating and producing. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my job as a designer and of course that is what I have known for years, but, I needed nourishment too! Overcome with the black dog of depression, I looked for ways to heal my pain. And, personal growth propelled me into volunteering and quickly that became a part time role for me with the Alziemers Society, facilitating art sessions for their clients.
I began to see incredible shifts with some of the service users and it ignited my passion to look further into how I could use my art to help others. I literally tripped over Art Therapy in my search on the internet and it completely resonated with my soul! BANG - it presented some REALLY big obstacles straight away. I would need to re-train for 3/4 years to complete an MA. Go back to uni as a mature student? Was that even possible for a girl who only managed to get about 3 o’levels and is as far away as you can get from being academic, to go back to studying?! Plus there was a substantial cost and life changes involved. I had to make one of two choices - 1) stay in my comfort zone that was also increasingly full of discomfort. OR 2) reach into the unknown and travel though the discomfort to reach my end goal!
Well, I decided to follow the path that truly excited me every time I thought of it! It brought a lot of judgement and lack of support from some of those around me. However, a leap of faith was required … After an additional year of a foundation course, 1,000 hours of volunteering with vulnerable adults and children. Which also ended up taking me very much out of my comfort zone, to the Calais refuge camps to work under the guidance of a wonderful Art Therapy team: Art Refuge. I’m now in my second year part time at University currently completing my MA in Art Psychotherapy along with working part time as a freelance designer. It’s not only meant some life altering experiences of my own, but life changes for those who have been propelled on this journey with me by default by being connected to me as husband or child. Part of studying on this course also meant being in personal therapy and looking at life time of habits that have created a lot of angst for me! ME, have a life time of bad habits? I didn’t have any! Yeah right! Still working on them though my personal art therapy which makes me a work in progress!
What is the purpose of art in your life, and in the lives of those you work with through art therapy?
My art has taken on a new role in my life now. After years of creating and design from an aesthetic point of view, always judging if the work was marketable or sellable, then becoming lost when it wasn’t approved by others. I now work very intuitively. So, my art has become my medicine! Did you know that just 20 minutes of creativity can renew brain function and improve your mood? Go … dance, sing or paint … find your creative expression! We forget that art as a non verbal form of communication has been around since the days of cave people and in my art therapy practice it is another subconscious language that gets spoken between client and myself. It becomes a way for someone to speak the most difficult emotion and find the yet unknown solution.
Is it possible to create fearlessly?
ABSOLUTELY! The question is ‘will we give ourselves permission to do so?’ Just think back to when you were a child, there were no preconceived ideas around creating and no judgment, just the feeling and enjoyment. REMEMBER the word 'Impossible' is actually 'I’m possible'! It’s a matter of changing the lens we judge ourselves with. I’m not saying it’s easy, of course it’s not. But, it's worth remembering the butterflies we feel when we imagine it as FEAR can also be a signal from our body to become EXCITED about something!
What does creative community mean to you?
I’m very grateful for the creative community around me. Working as an artist/freelancer can also often mean working in isolation and the one POSITIVE thing about social media is that it can become possible to create platforms for creating communities. These communities can also be a valuable source of support and nourishment. It’s an amazing feeling to often discover I’m not the only one that can get hijacked by fearful thoughts about my ability to create and having a supportive group of like minded individuals can be just the tonic I need on that bad day/week/month!
What's next for your business, 'Courageous Art’?
Ohh … to complete my final year and graduate, just so I can say I am now ‘edumacated'! I know my mum would have been proud to see me come this far already! And, more presently, continue to find ways to merge my design work and my art onto products for well being. Mental health is something that often gets overlooked and is often the thing that needs a hug the most! So, to share as many mental health hugs as possible! While I continue to work on ways for my inner and outer to be the same and become CONGRUENT! The biggest adventure of them all!
Thank you to Nina for answering my questions so honestly. I love the word 'Congruent' as something we are perhaps all striving for, expressing the truth of who we are...in our art and life.
You can read the responses to this interview in the Facebook Group 'Helen Hallows - Creative Courage'