Cartographies of the body: (topographical) depression
(Topographical) Depression - a term to describe an area of land that is sunken below the surrounding area - essentially a hole (in various small to large variations
(Human) Depression - an emotional black hole where lasting feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and unhappiness result in a person losing interest in the things they once loved
The World Health Organization defines ‘mental health’ as:
‘a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.’
As a trainee counsellor and as someone managing chronic pain that has mental health challenges I have become more curious about what it means to be mentally healthy. There are many models of mental health (medical, social, faith, psychological, bio-social) all which seek to attend to to mental ill health, and yet still the prevalence of mental health conditions continues to rise. With so many models of mental health how do we know where to begin?
Selected by Wales Arts International as part of UNESCO's Decade of Indigenous Languages, I now collaborate with The Tambora Foundation (an ancestral school in Colombia) and Javier Peralta (a visually impaired Psychologist in Colombia to go deeper into this topic, exploring specifically the topic of depression. Taking my site work into the topographical depression(s) of Llangattock Escarpment (an abandoned limestone quarry housing a network of underground caves), this early stage r & d will generate creative site writing that draws on both the landscape and my lived experiences of mental health. These writings will be shared with my collaborators in Colombia who, sat around the fire in ceremony with elders from the Muisca tradition, will bring their their ancestral knowledges and wisdom to the subject, together, across the miles weaving this new creative thread with a shared focus on the role that nature has to play.
New Vistas - Crippin' Nature Connection - British Council Micro Award - Unlimited (2022)
Our group came together through Gina’s previous collaboration with Anthar on SheWolf project Cavesong - Symphony in a Miner Key (supported by Arts Council England), and her subsequent experience of Anthar and Sophia’s work with indigenous communities and sound healing in Colombia - networks that later introduced the group to Javier. Together, in 2021, we delivered New Vistas – Cripping (nature) connection, a project funded by Unlimited/British Council Micro Awards. This work was based on the premise that traditional scripts which facilitate experiences of nature-connection do not work for disabled artists - despite the practice’s therapeutic appeal. We explored new ways of working in nature with diverse sensory, physical and neurological abilities. Disabled artists, Gina and Javier, worked through collaboration with non-disabled artist, Anthar, to engage with their own landscapes and focus on the therapeutic powers of nature immersion. We then worked via Zoom with live translation in Spanish and English, exploring our nature immersion experiences and developing listening/sound and creative/poetic audio description that reflected Javier’s experience of being in nature as a visually impaired person. Our final report, a sound journey recording and the Five Steps to Mindfulness document used for this nature immersion work, can be found at New Vistas: Cripping Nature Connection.