Hark Publications: Coming to my Senses: Finding my voice through ovarian cancer
“I found it exciting to read about her inner struggle, her courage to face very painful decisions. She talks openly about how everything that we do in life comes with a price tag, and only if we are willing to face this and the consequences, can we truly be healthy and take control of our lives, including our bodies. I have not had to face a life threatening illness, but I found that when she shares her deepest feelings, she speaks directly to issues in my life.” (extracted from Amazon review).
A couple of years ago I worked with a school of autistic kids in North London, most of whom could not speak nor walk. Together, we painted, using our bodies, and they showed me their voices through the extraordinary images they created.
This inspired me to go further, and to take this process into areas where conflict has rendered children silent, through violence. When children are too afraid to speak, their spirit starts to die, and when their voices aren’t heard, they lose their connection not only to themselves, but to one another.
This simply won’t do. We have to do better for these kids. And so HARK, which stands for healing art for kids was born. The idea being to listen for the breath and words of these children, to tell us about their experiences, and for us to help them transition out of that painful place, to a place that has colour and light and opportunity.
For me, creativity and health are interconnected, and when this chain is broken and becomes fragmented, so we get dis-eased. It all begins with a frightened voice, too scared to speak.
HARK is interested to hear from anyone who has experience of working in a humanitarian context in South Africa, which is where HARK will launch its first project. Please get in touch with me if you have ideas and/or resources to contribute.
Here is one of the carers at the school in North London enjoying finding her voice in paint.
Writer and activist Dambisa Moyo appears on Norway’s Grosvold show and discusses Dead Aid with host Anne Grosvold and politician Raymond Johansen (April 18th 2009).
When I lived in South Africa in the ’70s, my family employed an African maid. Her name was Anna. She lived with us for 12 years, and during that time she became fluent in English – in addition to the other 4 languages that she spoke fluently. She was part of our family, although we sadly, were not part of hers, because domestic workers could not have their families living with them, so the apartheid regime separated families as much as it separated minds and hearts.
What I learned from Anna is that she needed support, encouragement and the opportunity to educate herself and her children to better themselves, and not for aid to do it for them. No hand outs, because they breed dependency. Anna became independent, and she wanted her children to have the choice about where they worked, and to be self-supporting.
Thank God writers like Dambisa Moyo are raising their voices against the celebrity-driven aid culture we have, and speaking out for aid to be in a form that nurtures local businesses, restores human dignity and builds self-esteem as well as houses and water holes.
Journalist William Wallis has written about the increasing opposition to Dambisa Moyo in today’s Financial Times.
I’m not saying this is an easy problem to solve, but I am saying economic aid in the form that we have it, isn’t serving the African people, and we need to lend our voices to the campaign Dambisa has started.
I’m the sort of person who takes notice of sign posts. Not the driving kind, but the metaphysical kind. I’ll be reading the paper and suddenly, boom, there it is, embedded in the article I’m reading will be a ‘code’ that only I recognise. It may sound weird, but it’s more common than you might think. Some people call this coincidence, some call it synchronicity. I know when it happens to pay attention.
Which is why I recently began re-reading a book I read in my early teens: The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner. The farm is in Africa, South Africa. I lived in South Africa for several years in the late ’70s, all through the apartheid years, emergency rule, and detention without trial, where people weren’t murdered in prison, they ‘slipped on a bar of soap’.
Being an artist and writer then was almost sure to get you detained, and so I learned to hide my ideas and opinions, keep them quiet, silently driving them underground. Years later I discovered that doing this had forced a separation between my own eye and ear, an apartheid within myself. I knew my ‘tapestry’ was full of what I now call ‘broken colours’, and not just black and white, but how to breakthrough …
Then I remembered reading The Story of An African Farm, and the stories of Lyndall and Waldo, unlikely soul mates whose lives reflected their frustrated quest for a better reality, and their dreams of self-fulfilment. As I read it again, I felt the resurgence of my own outrage, my passion for creating, my desire not to be silenced, sealed off, to express myself through bold and outrageous colours.
This was originally intended to be my painting blog, but now it's also about writing, what we ache for, and everything else important.
"Your paintings are like auragraphs. You pick up the information from the person and express it through art. However, they are on an altogether deeper level - not dealing with the outer projection of ourselves, not even with the spirit, but on a soul level. They are soul reflections".
Mary Clair Kelly, Cruse Counsellor