BA & Dip.Hum.Psych.
The early years . . . growing up in a small, end of the line, northern seaside town, I found myself from an early age questioning our familial and cultural assumptions. Beginning to notice what would later become my strapline,
'curious about the stories we tell ourselves
and the tales we tell others' .
I was inquisitive about those perceived 'rules' applied to the then very binary choices, sex, jobs, sports, etc . . . or at least what was visible in a small, parochial, coastal town in the 1960's . One definite rule for men and quite another for women. That 'nice girls' didn't ask questions, and any potential lurking skeletons one inadvertently caught glimpses of, should remain, unquestionably and firmly, kept under lock and key, and under no circumstances, ever mentioned!
At times it felt like growing up within the confines of an old black and white television set, frequent grey fog, ghosting and interference . . . I was then and remain, still, curious about it all, and in the absence of answers as a child, my response to this somewhat alien landscape, was to become increasingly disembodied,
a coping mechanism that served me well, but left me, like many others, with the classic cartesian split,
the mind/body dualism.
In this very particular corner of the country in the 1960s and of course, as a child, none of this I could articulate. Feeling separate from this strange and bewildering land, I found solace in nature. I simply escaped, as often as I could, down to the beach where the sea lashed by that sharp east wind held many a kite aloft, whilst the seagulls cried and I found relief and connection, playing among the sand dunes. Running unconstrained aside the waters edge with a canine companion at my heels, feeling a delicious sense freedom starkly at odds with the confines of my parents home. This, this was my saviour, during a mostly grey, confusing and often solitary childhood.
Teens and 20's - My teens took the classic trajectory after a tricky beginning, and I learned throughout those challenging years, I have a strong inner compass. This kept me from going so far off track that I couldn't get back.
In my late teens I discovered ceramics, a truly embodied practice which was the perfect antidote to any possible wilder expressions, slowly helping me to return to my body as I began at 19 to train as a production thrower and decorator in a small studio pottery in Lincolnshire. This led on to both a B/Tec High Diploma in Studio Ceramics in my mid 20's, and much later a BA in Ceramics too. This practice became the foundation from which I ventured forth to explore a range of arts practices, providing me with a sense of solid ground and the courage to explore. The arts, in their myriad forms, have been an integral part of my life ever since.
30's and early 40's ~ However it was working for 13 plus years in event and project management, in a range of settings, predominantly outdoors that led me to become increasingly interested in how we are as human beings; the identities we create, the structures we design for ourselves and how hold and share power.
This sparked a life long interest in our human stories, and later, becoming increasingly curious about women's stories. Beginning in the early 90's to work on various women projects, then later, these areas of interest, coupled with becoming a parent, led directly to my taking a Post Graduate Diploma / Masters in Humanistic Psychology entitled Leadership, Facilitation & Coaching, (2006 - 2008), and my further explorations in the field of personal and professional development.
My 40's and into my early 50's were spent juggling, mothering and studying, parenting and projects.
Experiencing the light and shade, being pulled and pushed, stretched and pummelled.
Diving in to eco-psychology, strengthening my eco-knowledge, building on my logistics skills through my deepening awareness of systems thinking, and developing my skills as humanistic psychology practitioner really helped me to find my feet again.
Mid 50's on . . . I began working with my skills interdisciplinarily.
Bringing Networking to Bristol and offering regular eco-psychology and environmental arts practice sessions working with another artist.
Building on previous experience I also began to shift how I worked with women's stories - changing from the training and facilitation work I had done intermittently for over 30 years, to broadening my practice across disciplines, culminating in my experimental residency in Jan 2017. Working as a social artist with other practitioners having been awarded an Artists Residency at the old Jacobs Wells Baths in Bristol, I worked with a group of Bristol women to explore a range of issues. We partnered with UWE Photo Research Group producing an exhibition and a live performance.
Unpacking personal stories and exploring social change through play; deconstructing identities and cultural narratives we construct, from the day to day minutiae to the grander themes that can sometimes take on mythic proportions.
2023 onwards . . .
Now 2023, as I re-emerge post that 'stayathome' phase, my son now living independantly, and my own post hands-on parenting recovery, to deepen my practice and improve my own health and wellbeing, I have been shining a light into the dark corners of my psyche. Illuminating the shadow as I journey once more into the murky territory of traumas past to bring healing to the present.
A significant part of this process is the recognition that for me, working in and with nature
is a critical part of my practice.
Being engaged with the elements, and with the many and varied aspects of ourselves as full sensate, expressional human beings lies at the root of what I bring.
I was reminded of this on the recent residency I attended with Intercultural Roots, Human-Nature-Connect, for which I am very grateful.
And just in case you wondered, for my downtime . . . I'm a confirmed thalassophile!