Where I land my creative journey
Life calls me to attend to our experience of collaboration. I hold the position, informed by my lived experience, that we are relationally formed- we are constantly shaped by the world and it is shaping us.
We are not bounded beings with discreet beginnings and endings. We inhabit an "inter-world" where your experience of existence is constantly shaping mine. This is echoed in philosophy, physics, chemistry and neuroscience.
My creative work is a celebration of this complex ever changing shifting fabric of co-constructed reality. I do this because making sense of my life seems essential to my well-being.
Immutable frameworks of unquestionable truth and dependable givens fall short of holding our intricate and paradoxical experience of life in a post-modern world filled with unbounded technological expansion.
And so I turn to the arts as a world were the liminal can be explored, the paradoxical can be sung and space between us amplified so personal meanings may constituted in a way that is congruent with the life I live.
What follows then is a collection of these explorations into making sense of our lived experience and how that might speak to yours.
WHAT GUIDES MY CREATIVE PRACTICE
We are in a constant state of flux and reciprocity with the material world. We are both devolving and evolving simultaneously. When we contemplate this we become aware of our fragility, our vulnerability and our irreducible relationships.
“Phenomenology is the study of essences,” articulates Maurice Merleau-Ponty, in The Phenomenology of Perception.
It offers an account of living experience, of a phenomena, in the present moment- not what we think we know of it. It is an attempt to suspend, judgement or interpretations to meet what is before us, as it presents itself, opening us to new knowings and possibilities.
I see beauty as my muse, who points me towards what is meaningful.
“The role of the artist is to transform crass living condition and beautify people's souls through its gifts”- Oscar Wilde
Knowing is subjective and there are many perspectives through which a phenomenal is experienced. Reality as we know it is constructed through our shared experiences from these unique perspectives.
My inquiry into meaningful living is a layered account whereby multiple stories and voices; both reflexive and introspective, are woven together to tell a larger story. I am inviting you to enter into the emergent experience of my discoveries.
This methodology is known as autoethnography. It displays multiple layers of consciousness, connecting the personal to the cultural. These arts based research projects reflect the complexity of my struggle with the constructs of my culture- the patriarchal, capitalist norms that we experience at present and how I navigate this space.
THE BEAUTIFUL MUNDANE
My coming to meaning happens in liminal spaces, hidden from view in the substrata of daily living. It is a rhizomatic, emergent process.
Rhizomatic is a term developed by French philosophers Deleuze and Guattari describing research that allows for multiple, non-hierarchical knowings to emerge.
It is a living inquiry.
Shaun Mc Niff (1992) contends that intention must give way to follow the soul as it moves through its local environment, through daily life.
I value the extraordinary that emerges when we attend to the ordinary.
ARTS BASED RESEARCH
An arts-based inquiry into eco-printing as a therapeutic modality
Eco-printing is a form of close contact printing on cloth and paper using botanical matter and savaged metal. Emerging Ecologies is an autoethnographic and a/r/tographic documentation of my inquiry into eco-printing as a modality for meaning making using the MIECAT procedures. This inquiry is draped over the skeleton of a three part workshop series, conducted in 2015, with eight women learning how to eco-print and use it for arts-based inquiry. Together we experienced embodied knowing, emergence, and imperfect beauty as rich values that support us in our personal lives. These experiences were born from immersing in creative process and attending to what emerged moment to moment. What also unravelled alongside this story is my own living inquiry into the application of these values. This unravelling is also documented, creating a layered reflexive account.
THE SEEKER BIRDS
An arts-based mixed media inquiry into contraception and women's mental health.
I worked with aTractor productions to produced a narrated version of The Seeker Birds. It was an important part of my process in finding ways to embody a work and a theme that appeared so lifeless in its sculptural form - hardened and vacuous.
And yet this sculpture had a story to tell as she hovered above me in my studio
She was first a dress, made from burnt eco printed silks in an untended dye pot. Once burnt, I left them for months before I unwrapped them, and performed a death dance in them. Later she became a sculptural piece in response to a climate change exhibition. Finally, after hanging in my studio, she told me her many stories. In response to these I drenched her in salt water, allowed the water to evaporate, leaving crystal deposits on her body. She told me of the flock of Seeker birds, how they had come and devastated her and revealed to me, what they had lodged in her body that caused her such suffering.
THE SEEKER BIRDS
A Narrative by Jacqueline Grace
A flock of seeker birds had come, and in a whirlwind of buffeting feathers they had shot through her body with the reckless precision of a seasoned hunter. Piercing through her as though she were an ancient sandstone bridge. Now the screeching swarm bruised the sky above.
But she was not ancient and it was in the forever of an instant that she was hollowed out.
The empty space that was her once hidden now cried with the howl of a wily wind trapped within a rocky cranny;
The greying ocean that stretched out before her broke the cry with its windswept voice;
“Gone yes, but what lies beneath?”
She did not stir.
The bitter south wind echoed the question, in its raspy sand - filled way;
“What lies beneath?”
Yet the woman upon the rocks remained motionless, save for the briefest flicker across her eyes. She was so numbed by the salt and the cold and the puncture wound that she was unable to speak.
The waves in their anguish rushed upon the rocks with insistent fury and the wind hollered serpentine streaks through the heavy sky. The seeker birds whirled out of the clouds and descended upon her. For the third and final time she was assailed with the same unbearable question.
“What lies beneath?”
The salt shell that bound her skin shattered into fault lines. She heard a small clunk, as something inside the brittle space dislodged and fell to the rocks at her feet.
The seeker birds left as abruptly as they had come vanishing into the bleak skies beyond.
Based on my own lived experience, this mixed media- sculptural and sound piece - is responding to the relationship between depression, anxiety and women's contraceptives. In the absence of sufficient evidence-based research, qualitative research and anecdotal accounts of the often debilitating mental health experiences of women using contraceptive are repeatedly marginalised, refuted and dismissed. What lies beneath this abyss ?
A 2017 Danish study of over 1 million women, spanning 16 years, showed 47 % of women who have used contraceptives experienced mental health issues, with a staggering 80% increase in the experience of mental illness in young women taking oral contraceptives. Yet little has been done to advance medical research into causative relationship, leaving women dis-empowered, disoriented and silenced.
In the meantime, the University of Copenhagen is undertaking a study into the correlation between suicide and women’s contraceptives.
The seeker birds continue their desperate flight.