Exhibition by second year Art Psychotherapy students

A diverse exhibition of artworks by second year Art Psychotherapy students exploring the theme of Play.

Artists and artwork

Rhiannon Caldwell, Katie Gettins and Fiona Martin
The Den

The three of us were inspired by the title of the exhibition and decided to work collaboratively to explore our understanding and experience of play. We all shared memories of creating dens and safe spaces as children, and linked this to the safety of a therapeutic space. 
It was important that the piece was explored individually, with a view for it to be brought together, to bring our personal childhood experiences to life. In doing so we discovered a shared value of nature, which is depicted in our artwork. 
Our discussions around the idea focused on the importance of mirroring a child’s play, we wanted to be as resourceful as possible with the materials, as a child does by using what is available to them in that moment. 
Since working with clients throughout this year it became evident the importance of playing with the materials, and through our own art skills it felt appropriate to revisit the array of feelings brought together in a collaborative resourceful experience.

Michael Cousin
Misremembrance of things past


Here are the things that were thought lost and were lost and regained. But they weren't the same when they came back.

Cath Fitch

Kiln-formed glass - multiple firings, purposely broken and reformed, slumped and finished with copper sulphate.
A deeply personal and raw acknowledgement of an eighteen month psychotherapeutic journey.  This final piece is a snapshot. A container holding insight of a significant process that involved journaling, drawing, playing and exploring. Picking, scratching, digging and analysing. Gathering, breaking, shattering, hurting. Ordering, assembling, accepting and fixing. Releasing, covering, hiding and holding. 
A process full of metaphors and a final piece that is so bare, it is hard to exhibit, but the honesty and openness feels satisfying and freeing, and the core, remains safe.

Debra Fletcher

My art practice mainly involves working in three dimensional arts specialising in copper and silver wire by sculpturing it into objects, natural and man-made, to represent growth and strength at various stages in my life.
The method of shaping the wire into a form is a relaxing process. These ‘forms’ are positioned over the centre of an open historic book, a book that is deep-rooted in thought, behaviour and communication.
Combining both wire and paper shows the contrast between the two mediums but it can also show the bond it shares, how a paperclip can ‘hold’ the paper, as a therapist can hold the client. The artwork expresses a narrative, the growth and strength that emerges from my life story.

Georgina Huntley

Small ceramic dog lost at sea
Feeling shy
Thinking verse doing
This miniature collection of triptych-relief-canvases aim to narrate some of the feelings and sensations experienced during the course of this year. Moving away from familiar comfort zones, or to use Bowlby’s terminology the `secure base’ into unfamiliar territory, can for some, induce feelings of anxiety. Through this art I have tried to address the complexity of this issue via visual metaphor and story-telling. 
In this project I have used materials and processes that are comfortable and evoke feelings of security, an art project where I am in my own `comfort zone’. Combining found objects, humour and child-like simplicity these canvases aim to represent some of my day dreams and wonderings about the topic of anxiety and how it can manifest within our daily lives. 

Julia Hutchinson 
Changing: Loss & Growth

My piece is a mixed media work which has been gradually developed during the last year.  I have used symbolism to document my personal development as an individual.

Training to be an Art Psychotherapist has led me to view my thoughts and feelings from a new perspective and this work reflects that ongoing and challenging relationship with myself.
It is a personal expression of the growth and loss I feel we all experience as we continually change and develop as individuals throughout our lives.

Georgina Huntley and Julia Hutchinson

Play is an interactive and unitive activity often involving props, materials and mess.  Drawing together on our differing approaches to art making we explored the concept of mirroring in a day long art experiment with limited rules and expectations about the final outcome to be produced.  Priority lay with the process of art making and we gave ourselves permission to laugh and enjoy the art materials and our interaction with each other.

We lay the canvases and materials on the floor and took it in turns to begin the mark making and application of materials.  Working with mixed media induced discussion on various topics from the political to the personal and beyond.  
At points we’d have conflicting ideas and need to step away from the engrossing process and really consider what was happening on the canvases.  For both of us this challenged our perceptions as to what we found acceptable within the boundaries of our individual style.  For example Georgina found the larger abstract method to be a new experience whilst Julia found the use of found objects uncomfortable.
Through amalgamating our two artistic identities and styles we have created canvases with a dynamic sense of movement and energy which capture the mirroring interactions that took place within the moment.  The experiment existed within a set time frame and as a private event between the two artists.  Therefore it is a challenge to share the outcome publicly.  
We both experienced a sense of self-consciousness and exposure.  This emulates both our feelings around art making within the therapeutic context and raises questions of confidentiality, privacy and the need to be validated and accepted by others. 
“Play energises us and enlivens us it eases our burdens it renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities” – S. Brown MD Contemporary American Psychiatrist.

Anna-Kaisa Laine

Mixed media in concertina sketchbook.
Since my back ground is in fine art and authorial illustration, both making images and telling stories are close to my heart and natural ways for me to reflect and process.
Disentangling is non-chronological visual narrative of my personal journey through the second year of my art psychotherapy training. 

Kirsty Toal

Water birds
In exploring my fascination with birds and bird feathers I realised that I the idea of being able to fly above and see over the hills, the buildings and the horizon has, in the past, drawn me upwards. Through the experience of participating in ecotherapy I have been able to feel more grounded and connected to what is beneath my feet and what I can see, hear, feel, and interact with around me in the present. 
Standing at the bottom of a gorge in the middle of a river, the movement of water over my feet led me to think of fish as the birds of the river, exploring depth and flow, while birds explore light and freedom. The scales of the fish, like the feathers of the birds in the air, protect them and help them to move freely through the water. Birds meet the water when they dive for food, and fish meet the air when they reach and leap for flies. Trees stand protecting and holding the space. 
Cut paper makes patterns of scales that burst into the air as a fish does when it leaps upstream in a river or catches flies in a lake and reaches back down into the depths in a blur of water, air and body.

Claudia D'Arezzo

Hold it together
I no longer make art with any idea of where it is going, not even whilst the piece is progressing. I just draw. It helps me relax, wind down and reminds me that being creative is therapy in itself. I am absorbed in the process of sublimation.  It keeps me grounded and sane.
In not striving to depict anything in particular, symbols and themes have begun to emerge within the work which I would never have expected. In initiating the creative process without focused thought I tap into my unconscious:  channelling my frustrations and anxieties onto paper where they can be held and contained.
Being absorbed in the process of cutting and slicing through paper distracted me from the actuality of subject matter and memories I unconsciously tapped into.  In attempting to create a piece which I thought would be hopeful, I instead feel disconcerted. It triggered more memories than I could ever have imagined whilst concentrating on the painstakingly long process it took to create. An urgency to finish on time. When I look at it I hate it.

Esther Green
Sand & Water
Over we go

This year I have enjoyed ‘playing’ in my art making as I have explored the use of a new medium, clay as well as continue exploring the human form in painting.  I have worked with children for many years and often envied their ability to get lost in the moment of play and imagination. Making art is the place where I find I can sometimes recapture something of this for myself.  
My piece ‘Sand and Water’ is about two much loved elements of children’s play and seeks to convey the immersion in texture and fantasy of a children at play where the children become one with the world of the elements.  Similarly in my painting ‘Over We Go,’ play blurs the lines between reality and fantasy, capturing a world that only a child knows.  The child plays, the beach plays, the artist plays, inviting the viewer into the world of childhood.

Victoria Coyle
My journey has shaped me uniquely

As driftwood is shaped by its journey to shore, so persona(s) such as ourselves are shaped towards Art Psychotherapy.
Broken by a storm, freed from my roots
I flow toward destiny where
new adventures await
No longer a bystander of a rivers journey
but baptized by nature’s resilience
as I float, glide and fly
My journey has shaped me uniquely
chiselled by jagged rock to beauty
whitened by the sun
Life no longer passes me by as I travel
napping in shadowed pools
dancing with the spray
Where will my adventure’s end?
Does it really matter as
long as I’m still here
As a metaphorical journey, there is a cosy resonance in Jenkins’ micro-poetic idiom SETLO AM OES (A LIFETIME) – as an opportunity to pause for reflection and appreciate the uniqueness of Self and individuality within our nature(s) and just how far we’ve come to finally settle on these shores.