I have started to contemplate how I should use my experiences of photography and how I can use it as a technique to assist in my anxiety management.
Whenever my anxiety hits a fever pitch I can feel it creeping up my throat. It is times like this that I go in search of flowing water.
The smell of the sea or a river running through a forest is powerful – as are the connotations of strength. There being no pollution, just the nature and serenity and sound of flowing water or lapping waves is instantly calming to me. The patterns the water creates, the ripples that are far reaching. The way that it finds its route no matter what helps me to feel a bud of strength and positivity return.
This week I went out for a few hours to do exactly this, allowing me to be only present in the moment not to focus on my anxiety the affects of my physical disease, or the pressures of my work circumstance. I find this is the release to help me to move forward and not get trapped into the negativity.
Water is important to me also for the metaphors I associate with it.
Water like time does not stand still
It always finds a way whatever the obstacles are put in its path
You don’t know how deep it goes, like the depths of my emotions.
Water can help wash away the negative feelings I have.
This is really important to consider in relation to maintaining my mental health.
I have also been reading around the subject of Mindfulness and contemplative photography as I have adopted it as a very important step on my journey to good long term mental and physical health.
I have prepared a shooting list to follow up with more images:
I haven’t done anything photographically recently I have lots to say but my motivation is very low.
In the last month I have looked at the disease that took my Grandma from us – and in my past I have raised money fro this cause to help others.
We lost another family member this year to a different mental illness and it was this moment that made me wonder if it was time to use this project to look at me own illness.
Earlier this year I received my diagnosis – broadly Inflammatory Arthritis more specifically Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis. I suffer pain and discomfort and fatigue everyday – but now it has a name.
There are times when the joy gets sucked out of me because I can no longer to the things that I used to do (and the things that I can not at the same level) there are times when even holding a camera is difficult. Along with all of this there are the mental health affects and for me this is the hardest.
I find that when I concentrate on photography whether that is the taking or the editing, it can some times take some of the pain away, the fuzziness doesn’t make my brain feel so sad. Taking the photographs shows me that I can still do something and I would like to think that by taking about these challenges to others that it could maybe help them too.
I want to hold a workshop to talk to others as well as display my images and show the journey is the way that I would like to go.
I have brainstormed some elements that help to describe my feelings:
Dead Flowers with the petals missing.
RSVP showing non attendance
I have also been reading a lot about the #VersusArthritis campaign and this has been really been powerful in showing the different ways people are affected by this disease.
This was another great opportunity to meet up with my fellow FMP students and Krishna.
I presented the images that I had presented to Wendy earlier that day, with some really great feedback, I was advised that my images were strong. We discussed that I could look at communities were places that i could look to hold my images as my images were held in my local community.
One important point to raise is that we have to know when to stop – both through when to stop taking images, when to stop searching for what our project is and when to stick with what we should be working – and also to stop over analysing
I discussed my aim to have a workshop which was well received. I also explained that it would be on coping and photography.
Whilst being in the stage of not being really sure where I want my work to go, I began some brainstorming of Ideas.
Being uncomfortable with what I feel is exploiting Dementia I thought of ways that I could turn the situation around.
John Darwell came into my memory – A black Dog Came Calling. This project was the basis to practice development within his PhD at Sunderland University and it set off some inspiration within myself.
If I am not comfortable exploiting what in my theory is my on guilt and in turn people who cannot give me permission to tell their story – I am very comfortable in turning this project around and pointing it at myself.
These were some of my thoughts.
I wanted to look at combining poetry or text along side my images with representations of feelings in the photographs.
As I am looking at the archive of my own family I was directed to look at Nicky Bird and her project Travelling the Archive (2015-2016). Wendy and I discussed that this would be a great way to start.
Bird’s work showed my techniques that I could use to represent the loss my family still feels in our lives years after the death of my Grandma from Alzheimer’s.
Whilst Bird’s images are composites and also show images from yesteryear displayed to the public in the community they were originally taken in, the images I was creating felt more raw and emotive – Though this is probably because they are my memories.
The images I selected were all treasured family memories, many were from my own house where I still live and this had a big effect. The images had more impact as they featured my Grandma, along with other relatives some of which have also passed away – making it one of the most difficult photography tasks that I have ever carried out.
Like Bird’s work the sites that I visited still resonate and the genealogy links tell a story of not only my past but my family, and the gigantic loss we all felt when we lost of family matriarch.
As with the Family Ties Network, that Bird was involved in I explored the feelings and motivation towards the work I was carrying out.
I feel I wanted to explore Alzheimer’s in a way that respected my Grandma, and in a way that also protected her as when she died she had lost her identity due to the illness so I was very reluctant to share the work as if she no longer knew herself and our family why should I share her identity with those who did not know her. I was adamant and very reluctant as I did not want to exploit vulnerability especially when there was no way to seek permission.
There was also the guilt – when she was alive maybe I didn’t do as much as I should have – even though I was only 15, I should have been more present with her – and this made this piece of work even more difficult and if I shared these images would everyone be able to see that I didn’t do enough? That I should have been a better Grand-Daughter.
This week also came with the news that I no longer have my venue booking for my exhibition due to an administration error and this added to my already over emotional week.
After yesterdays tutorial I have had time to think about what we discussed. In truth I am not sure that the Rephotography in the way that we discussed is the way that I want to go with my work.
I have been reading deeper in to the photography of dementia and the links that can be made ice as one example.
A person is frozen in time with the memories melting away.
Nicola Onions Photographed flowers in ice, in her Memoriam collection. As the type of links to the disease is so fitting I wondered about also using the ice but in a different way. Having an image in ice and watching it melt away hopefully taking with it some of the ink until there is no more and the memory has gone. The bubbles in the ice would also represent moments of lucidity. I have got the sense that this could turn into something really special if explored further and I have to say has peaked me interest.
I also thought if not using an image then it would be something that reminded me of the person that I have lost.