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Geralyn Mulqueen FRSA reflects on her “Art for the senses” showcase at the Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC), her own journey, how creativity in all it’s forms can positively impact mental well being.

My journey to the Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC) on 29th March 2019 has been an unconventional one and a lifetime in the making.

Art For the Senses – a journey of resilience and recovery” sees not the end of my journey but rather a beginning to a new chapter which allows me to bring to bear a lifetimes experience to help others live their journey and fulfil their true creative potential.

My personal journey from barrister to mother to psychotherapist, opened a creative gateway for me to ultimately make art. Therein I found my voice and a desire not only to break many cycles of past experience but to offer the arc of the story through making marks in abstract art and the written word.

It is often said “ There is an artist (or a book) in everyone.”

The greater challenge is not the knowing but ‘accessing’ that creative self – finding the key to unlocking the artist and importantly using that self expression as a method of self-love and kindness.

“Art For the Senses – a journey of resilience and recovery” in association with the RSA, was an opportunity for me to share my life experiences and at the same time champion art as a gateway for recovery from trauma and an essential part of the emotional toolkit, which can help build resilience within the individual.

The event was broken into 2 distant parts – the first allowed me to share my story with over 60 invited guests from a range of disciplines including mental health professionals, artists, artisans, educators and those from the general public.

The second part was a panel discussion, curated by journalist, Helen Jones who lead a conversation with guests including myself, Dr Jolene Mairs Dyer, Paula Matthews and Dr Francis O’Neill.

The over arching theme for the discussion was the role of creativity in recovery and an understanding of what building resilience can mean to each of us.

The shared experience of the panellists and welcome contributions from an exceptionally engaged audience exposed the challenges that a post conflict society faces today and will face in the future without action being taken by those in power and those who are still to find their own voices.

There is much research to support the idea that those who suffer from mental health issues benefit greatly from utilising creativity in any or all its forms.

Creative writing with prisoners, filmmaking to give voice to those impacted upon during the conflict on this island, art-making in the hospital setting, creativity in psychiatric treatment some examples discussed.

A recognition that culture and art post conflict was and remains crucial.

The need for funding.

The need for a collaborative voice.

The need for prioritisation from policy shapers and the understanding that none of us escapes trauma at one point or another in our lifetimes.

Art gave me my voice and Art For The Senses gave me a platform from which to share that voice and to begin a conversation that I hope to continue on these islands and beyond.

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