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Sarah Emily Shaw


"The ‘Mindscapes’ series is a reaction to the therapy that I have received over the past year to treat depression; including CBT, SSRI medication and a personal exploration of art therapy. It is an attempt to fully understand how and why art can be utilised as an effective form of therapy.

What does depression feel like?

‘Turbulent’ is the best word to describe depression for me. I can compare it to turbulence you might experience whilst on an aeroplane, except that usually comes with a warning from the pilot so that you may strap yourself in and prepare for a bumpy flight. It’s something that can be quite unpredictable, but manageable if you are equipped with the right tools to endure it.

You are unlikely to get on a flight without experiencing a little turbulence, but the magnitude is varied and dependent on so many factors linked with the weather; a natural and unpredictable force.

In this scenario, you could imagine the turbulent clouds as experiencing an unexpected wave of emotions, sometimes it’s a shock and depending on how informed your pilot is; you may be able to just cut through it and rise above the clouds with ease. Except we don’t always have the shell of an aeroplane around us to protect from the outside elements.

The process of doing art during these times allows something to surface, even if it is a messy pool of black and blue that you can’t stand to look at. 

Keeping a small sketchbook is the best way to overcome the initial fear of engaging with art. I have often felt that anything I could possibly create would be a waste of paper, but this is the best place to explore emotional expression; in a small book you can just close away that doesn’t need to be seen or judged by anyone but yourself. A sketchbook is a place to explore ideas, unleash stress and make a mess. 

The watercolours have been a perfect companion for this method of artistic exploration for me, as I can relinquish control over the medium and allow the colours to run, drip, mix and interact with one another. It can very quickly create a satisfying pool of glowing colour to build upon. Sometimes the brush marks are quick, excited, and urgent, which can eventually evolve into more focussed and intricate forms and shapes."

See the full project on Sarah's website.

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