Earlier this week, I attended a wonderful Creative Adventure workshop led by Morwhenna Woolcock. It was great to meet her in person after crossing paths several times on social media over the last month. We met at Chew Valley Lake in a lovely spot near Woodford Lodge.
The question I chose to think about during the session was about how to help myself to manage my seasonal affective disorder during the winter and how to continue the creativity that I feel in the summer through the winter and when I’m back at work.
We used a sound map to tune into the environment. I’ve often paused to listen to sounds around me, but it was interesting to then represent these visually. I found that I used hard felt tip marks to represent man-made sounds and softer crayon marks to represent natural sounds.
Using the lake as inspiration, the next ‘task’ was to create a pool of reflection using the wide range of crayons, watercolours and pastels that Morwhenna had in her bag. My first creation was concentric rings of soft watercolour paint and then my second was interconnected spirals, also in watercolour. That started me thinking about how things were made up of smaller parts and how those parts interconnect.
The next part was an exploration walk, noticing what captured my attention and using a mirror to play around with seeing things from a different angle. I was drawn to a carved stone, which I had sat on for my sound map. As I looked at the stone, I noticed how the different patterns were each clearly defined but also linked to each other. Walking around, I was also drawn to the patterns on bark. I tried to do a bark rubbing, which didn’t reveal the pattern of the bark very clearly but did show up smaller patterns within it.
My exploration seemed to be giving me a message about interconnecting patterns and details that are not always visible to the eye but have to be felt. I related this to my question by thinking about how I’ve always considered winter and seasonal affective disorder as one large ‘rock’, but maybe it would be more helpful to look at the smaller parts of the problem.
I’ve used the app Mixgram on my iPad to play around with creating photo collages that reflect the idea of the stone being made up of smaller constituents or seeing the stone from different angles (in its wider context, close up, my interpretation).
Talking this through with Morwhenna then drew out some actions from this insight:
- Create a mindmap of my associations with winter and the smaller problems. [in progress]
- Plan projects that need to be done in winter, for example walking around ‘my’ woods to identify winter landmarks and the changes in the trees and plants.
- This winter, map my symptoms daily to notice if there are patterns or smaller symptoms that come and go.
- Use mindfulness to allow myself to feel and experience the uncomfortable feelings, rather than trying to push them aside. Be curious and ask myself ‘why?’.
- Look for small bits of awe in the landscape, especially during winter – see beyond the ‘grey’.
- Plan small creative projects that are easy to pick up and start.
I came away from the session feeling inspired and with a few new playful and creative ideas that I can use to explore other areas.
A few other ‘crumbs of curiosity’ from our conversations included:
- Moreton village, now submerged under the lake. The old mill was moved to Blaise Castle estate, which I’ve walked around several times.
- Victorian use of mirrors to view a landscape scene for painting or to prevent ladies from being overwhelmed by the beauty of the view. Also The Lady of Shalott, who could only view the world outside through a mirror, and Medusa, who could only be viewed safely in a mirror.
- Comparing Morwhenna’s “nature knows” sessions with the Street Wisdom framework, which uses the urban environment to find answers
I continued my day with a trip to Bookbarn, following Morwhenna’s recommendation of the goat’s cheese sandwich with chilli jam, which was delicious, and coming away with a lovely pile of books.