CONTENT WARNING: trauma, the pain of recovery, government death by DWP policies

 

Sorry that title is a pun to try and get myself to lighten up about the piece I’m trying to finish 😉

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This is the part I currently like best of the work, it’s fully embellished, and is attractive to people who aren’t necessarily interested in [my] art. This gold hoop and a white one were found in the airing cupboard at this flat and work better with the main armature – a wire lampshade in a roughly goblet shape – than the wooden hoops I’d acquired.

The lampshade itself has been interesting to work with – the yarn slithers unless I anchor it and then the bare steel shows. That feels appropriate, but looks ugly. Sigh… that is actually what the work is about, the pearls and barnacles of trauma recovery. The scars and stigma, the increased awareness and gifts to the world that result.

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The indented bayonet holder of the frame can stand for the permanent reshaping of your life that complex PTSD makes. The torn tissues, wounding and furred scarring that trauma leaves, however hard you ‘work’ to recover. People can be very judgemental nowadays – even bereavement is something to be medicated away, so grief at a lost self, a life of possibilities now gone gets very short shrift. Austerity Britain with this heartless Tory government is astonishingly cruel.  DPOs [disabled people’s organisations] are now estimating that as well as the 10,600 disabled/chronically and terminally ill people persecuted to death by the DWP in 2014, a further 120,000 people have died because of austerity policies, DWP sanctions, housing benefit changes, treatment of the homeless, cuts to care in homes, cuts to all kinds of medical services that support disabled people and the vulnerable. It’s heartbreaking that even Labour barely respond. There’s a thing on Facebook at the moment, ‘which Miliband meme do you most like?’ I’ve probably alienated a few people by commenting ‘where’s the ‘I don’t give a shit about the disabled’ one?’ because when I see Miliband I just think of the Opposition who didn’t oppose the Con/Dem death by DWP persecution policies. He may have cared, but he never mentioned it in the House of Commons, and I’m very sure he had weekly postbags of constituents testimony to the impact.

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The long strings of beads are connected to this, they look pretty, but my experience of feeling like words/ memories were being pulled up from my guts like fishhooks or stones, from where they had been trapped in my flesh, that isn’t pretty.

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I think in this piece I’m trying to express the imbalance it creates when life is a minefield of triggers, when all you want to do is make the best of what’s left, but every day is a challenge to even take all the tablets and supplements that help but don’t contain the pain, because nothing works completely on fibromyalgia pain, just as it doesn’t for cancer or arthritis, but those are respected in a way that anything connected to trauma isn’t. Maybe if you were a serving soldier, but then there is all the macho toxic masculinity that covers even the women vets, that you must ‘soldier on through’, even when you have an illness that affects every tissue, every fascia, when pain can stab at you from any direction, with no rhyme or reason. I talk a lot about my ‘bad’ leg, my hands, my collarbone, but plenty of other areas hurt, but some are not ‘socially acceptable’ to mention. Pain is a taboo topic, so pain in taboo body parts is really out of bounds.

Something I want to acknowledge is that I could have made this piece in angry colours, full of pain and the ugliness it causes. I haven’t because it would feel like drowning in the dysfunction, and my response to the PTSD I have lived with so long is to fight back with colour, with grace – a state of spiritual awareness and compassion, of openness including hope. That could be a failure, and I can see fellow sufferers wondering why, but I actually want to open some doors in the minds of those outside the experience, I want to neutralise some of the pain’s power and re-instate myself, the person living with the condition. Creating a neutral palette gives me some space as I make to keep a balance between my own needs and the needs of the piece.

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I am very attached to the beach colours, aqua, duck egg blue, sand from off white to black, tiny particles that glisten with salt… mmm, I am drifting off to the seaside in my mind! Making 2 pieces in a row with roughly this palette has been very soothing.

I have been working on a ‘technical’ problem too, how to make pieces that express the distortion trauma creates without making them impossible to photograph! I already have intricate details getting lost in the sheer size of some pieces, so this time I am deliberately bringing some elements back closer to the main armature – the bowl of the lampshade.

 

So about that name – maybe Balancing Act? The hoops remind me of jugglers… and from some angles it looks as though they have escaped from the lampshade bowl. It carries some of the constant tension too, like tightrope walkers. Phew!

 

 

 

 

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