As part of the final outcome of the FMP along with the Pop up Exhibition I also wanted to share the techniques that I had learnt with others.
I had a group of 4 participants and I taught them the techniques of Stop Look Breathe Create – which were steps I learnt from the book of the same title by Wendy Ann Greenhalgh.
These were steps that were really beneficial and I used in the capturing of the images for the project.
I set out three tasks that I thought would really help to notice things that they had never noticed before in a location that I knew each of the participants would have been to on many occasions.
The first Activity was just to notice how the world felt to the body by thinking about how the ground felt beneath their feet and this prompted them to take photographs of the ground.
Another was to find colour – this was a very successful activity and where objects that they never noticed before really came to the forefront.
The final activity was to write a word in the sand that made them feel negatively – we then watched the waves wash away that word. This made everyone feel reflective about their experience.
The overwhelming reaction was that after the workshop everyone felt a little more relaxed than they had when they joined the workshop and it gave them something that they could do when time were getting a little tough – this meant that each of them left with a little but more of an idea of a coping strategy that could be employed to improve mental health and this was the goal – which I feel I achieved.
For one of the public outcomes of my Final Major Project I held a pop up exhibition at my place of work.
My employers are currently going through a process of trying to change some of the culture habits that we have developed as a company and introduce some well being policies to assist colleagues through difficult times. With this in mind I discussed my project with some of the Senior Management Team and we decided it would be really useful to have my work open for others to see.
As someone who suffers with anxiety this was a very big personal challenge not only to speak in public but also to share the personal challenges that I have experienced over the last couple of years and explored very deeply through my project.
At the Face to Face event in Falmouth there were a couple of concerns over the display of the diary entries. There was a suggestion to have them recorded so that they could be listened to while the audience viewed – I tried this but some of the entries were still quite raw to me and I wouldn’t get them recorded in a way that would have allowed the audience to understand them as it was very emotional.
What I did decide to do was to have the sound of the lapping waves in the background, and as this was something that soothed me while creating the work did act as a comfort as I delivered my presentation.
These are some photos of how I set up the exhibition. I also have the video of my presentation.
I had some feedback forms at the end, which whilst I hoped people would enjoy the work – I don’t think I ever imaged that it would actually spark a conversation, that others would actually find the work helpful, that it made them feel better that they weren’t alone. I found this emotional, a little overwhelming – but it also helped me with the knowledge that the struggles that I have had could actually help other people to deal with their situations.
The outcome of this pop up exhibitions was really positive and I have been asked to show it again so that more people can benefit from the experience.
This experience has made me also want to share this work further – I am looking at venues again as it has given me the confidence boost to be able to do this.
In March 2017 I got injured training for the London Marathon. I was devastated. Running for me was not only an activity that gave me my running family, and the chance to socialise three times a week minimum, but it was also the activity that ensured I was taking care of my mental health. When this outlet was taken away from me, I not only had to cope with the physical affects of the injury, along with a disease I did not know I was struggling with, but also a noticeable decline in the condition of my mental state.
This project is a representation of the journey I have taken in search of mental and physical recovery, and the difficulties that I have faced. I focused my imagery on the water due to the connotations it holds, there are peaks and troughs, highs and lows, rough and calm. Depth of water was another area that I wanted to look at as not only can it be used to talk about the depths of emotion an individual can feel, a common phrase when people are having a difficult time is to say that they feel out of their depth. As in Roni Horn’s Another Water, it also needs to be acknowledged that bodies of water are often place people go to end their lives when life just seems too overwhelming to carry on anymore.
It is important to also look at the positive connotations of water. Many people including myself find that sound of the ocean and lapping of other bodies of water to be extremely soothing. There are also other therapeutic benefits to water, many will find it cleansing to wash away their problems, and also individuals who suffer with joint problems are encouraged to exercise in the water to take pressure away from their bodies and assist in recovery. You could also link this to other ceremonies involving water, individuals get blessed and baptised using water, and also believe miracles occur like those who make pilgrimages to Lourdes
This brought me to Swimming Against the Tide, each image is accompanied with a diary entry to give context and was captured near my home on the Coast of North East England. I found my way to cope was to take walks and on these wanderings I captured images of the North Sea as seascapes, but also macro texture shots as a way to make sense of the emotions I was experiencing.
I visited the New Bridge Project in Newcastle to view a space for an exhibition
I liked the space a lot but there would not be open access to it. This is something that I find concerning, as I would prefer it being a managed site after the launch event. It also means that I would need to find an alternative site for the workshop as I don’t feel that the site is safe to hold one in, in its current state.
Whilst I am not sure if mindfulness is the correct term it was the first steps I took in trying to process what it was that I wanted to look at in terms of mental health and photography in relation to my own experience.
I had been working through social media when I came across an image by a photographer I know who had spent the afternoon learning to capture reflections in water and how refreshed she felt afterwards.
I took this a a cue. As I have previously advised whenever I feel difficulties arising I take myself away to sit beside the water and let the sights and sounds wash over me and wait until I feel better.
I felt this was definitely the way that I needed to take my project and try out capturing the movement of the water as it is this element that I find important and turn it to be creative.
I took the images I had taken during one of my walks and edit them to be a bit more meaningful.
I was very pleased with the outcome and it has given me a really clear route forward.
Not only is this work in development helping me with my own well being, it is also allowing me to reintroduce some of the macro photography that I started my MA journey with. This is a real joy to me.