#maternaljournal in Warragul

I’ve been planning this for a year, after learning about the work of Laura Godfrey-Isaacs at King’s College, London. Her wonderful idea, #maternaljournal, has received the Basil Lee Bursary for Innovation in Communication from the Royal Society of Medicine, London, UK. Maternal Journal honours the period of time leading up to childbirth that – for a pregnant woman – is rich with complex thoughts and emotions.

Art journalling allows a different kind of expression of the mental work done during pregnancy, through the language of colour, pattern, texture, line, and mark-making. No matter if there is no previous creative practice or artistry – the language of art making is for anyone, and it has a wonderful capacity to promote health and wellbeing in the maker.

Regional Arts Victoria has awarded me a Community Grant to carry out a series of Maternal Journal sessions in Warragul, and following disheartening interactions with the local hospital and obstetric consulting suites, general medical practices, and local Maternal & Child Health Services (health providers can’t formally recommend any alternative ‘treatment’ for their clients), I decided to carry on regardless, and offer the sessions privately.

The series of RAV-funded Maternal Journal will be an immersion in a wide variety of art-making materials and techniques, the materials for which will be largely sourced through recycled resources. The sessions will include some tuition in art techniques, but only to the extent that each participant feels free to explore their ideas further. Essentially, the series will be a refamiliarisation with art making techniques that participants may have used before – even as far back as childhood – to enable the visual communication of feelings, often in symbolic form.

Because of the symbolism allowed by art making, participants only need share their thought processes as they feel comfortable, which means that often the deepest thoughts are expressed but can remain private, until the art maker is ready to describe or interpret them. This allows other participants who view the artworks the freedom to interpret in their own way, often finding resonance with the concepts at a deeper level, beyond conscious cognition. Art making in groups, therefore, is an ages-old human connection.

For more information about the Maternal Journal for Health, get in touch!

Arts for Health Journaling

For the last month or so, I’ve been working with various art makers creating #artjournaling pages. This is a whole world of art making (one only has to scroll through the zillions of Instagram posts) where the end result is a little book full of mini artworks (and often a swathe of inspirational quotes).

Any regular art-making practice promotes health. Perhaps this seems glib – but the therapeutic benefit of art making is supported by lots of qualitative data. Vast research describes how participants in art making activities experience a very palpable sense of wellbeing, both at the time of the art making, and in ongoing ways as the art making becomes a regular practice.

The act of making, or crafting, augmenting, refining; or acting, voicing, or singing, or dancing – these physically-involving behaviours, when combined with creative brain processes and shared with other humans – become part of an endorphin-producing sequence, a ‘cascade’ of manufacture of neural connections that can ‘ward off’ the blues, creating new ways of handling emotions, reinforced by social connection and camaraderie.

Arts & Health Gippsland will be joining the new co-working space in Warragul, The Herd Coworking Space that is sponsored by our local library corp., a local branding design co., and a local legal firm. (So far, Arts & Health Gippsland doesn’t have sponsorship, please make contact if you can assist!).

We will be looking into the possibility of bringing ‘Arts on Prescription” to West Gippsland primary healthcare, where health practitioners recognise a need for social interaction and connection in their clientele, and recommend or ‘prescribe’ a social activity such as these art journaling classes.

Arts and Health Gippsland