Hello and welcome to h e r e . Art Therapy.
March is nearly over already! Or should we be saying, hurry up days till April because Lockdown looks to lift little by little? We are all probably focussing on these tiny glimmers of fractured freedoms that are being rationed out to us by the government in the name of our health and our safety. We’re hanging on to ephemeral promises that are wearing very thin for everyone, especially those who live alone.
Well here is a thought. Our mental health and our mental safety are nurtured through a feeling of connection to others. My mental health asks to feel like someone out there is not only thinking about me, but also letting me know. I am sure you can relate in some way. Communicating these connections is something that we often overlook in our busy lives. Let us consider this; if sending a thought out to someone, why not make it a physical notion so that the recipient can feel its tangibility?
Do you remember the days when we’d receive letters and postcards? Do you remember sitting down and responding to them, giving time and thought to that individual before sending the tangible gesture of this time and thought - ie. the postcard - through the post to land as a lovely exciting surprise for the person in question? A text doesn’t quite do that now, does it? You don’t have to sit down and give someone time and thought in the same way through a text.
So a while back, when I lived in Paris, a friend and I started a postcard exchange. The idea is to do a little artwork on a postcard and write one word on the reverse. The recipient then responds to the word through their postcard artwork and writes one word on the reverse. And so the exchange continues.
We were talking about these exchanges and both decided to revive them, so I made a card and sent it. The word was 'rejuvenation'. It took over 10 days to arrive in Paris - it must have been stuck in quarantine or something. So much for first class stamps! Then I waited and waited and waited for my response. Eventually I got a text, yes, a text! It asked me whether I had received my postcard. No I hadn’t. 15 days passed and we decided that perhaps it had gotten lost rather than stuck in imaginary Royal Mail Covid Quarantine.
So the irony of this whole story is that, in the end, I did receive my postcard, but in the form of a photo sent via Whatsapp. The word was 'renewal'. I cannot deny feeling a little disappointed to have not received the actual postcard, but on reflection, the text version still demonstrated the time and thought gone into responding, because before the text was the real artwork that was made then photographed.
So how am I going to respond to ‘renewal’? Well, let me set aside some time and space to create in the name of the recipient and we will see what comes. Whatever arises, the underlying message will be the same. An exchange of tangible thought from one to another.
I’m thinking about you and I’m letting you know - tangibly.
Let us revive, rejuvenate and renew these connections. I believe them to be vital to our mental health and our mental safety.
* rajeunissement - rejuvenation
The image shows some of the previous postcard exchanges in the background.