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Fighting back!

“No Art is Perfect – Not Being Perfect is an Art!”

This is the motto of Arts with Hearts. We adopted this because we found we all struggle with making something that’s not perfect, that’s just ‘good enough’. We fear if we aren’t perfect, we’ll be hurt again, and that, possibly, we were hurt because we weren’t perfect. Of course, no-one and nothing is perfect.

This desire for perfection often prevents us trying something for fear of failure. Art and craft, however, grows through making ‘mistakes’, leading to new and better creative directions.

We thought this might resonate with others, so chose to make a piece around this concept.

This work was produced by all the Arts with Hearts group, and it was featured in the exhibition, ‘Stand Up, Stand Back, Stand With’, at the Arts Trail Gallery, Leamington Spa, 3 – 22 March 2020. The exhibition explored how art can provide accessible and emotive platforms to promote discussions about gender based violence, and was featured in the Leamington Courier.

This piece demonstrates the power of collaboration, it celebrates all our varied skills and aesthetics, and it reflects the various mediums we work in.

The only rule was that it had to be good, but not perfect. Goodness me, didn’t we all struggle with this? We hope the final result is ‘perfectly imperfect’.

We chose two key themes – flowers (symbolising hope) and butterflies (symbolising freedom and beautiful development). Flowers represent hope because they grow up through, and feed on, the muck we all encounter in life, and even when their blooms fade, they can blossom again against all the odds, bringing beauty and happiness once more. Butterflies are a particularly potent symbol for survivors, as they represent flying free from the past by the transformation from a caterpillar (perceived as ugly and a pest) to a butterfly, seen as beautiful and able to fly away from what they were.

Flowers and butterfly motifs adorn a hat – made by one of our crafters

Creating something pretty is how we fight back against the ugliness in our lives. As one of us said, “To create art and make things people like is showing me there is a ‘me’ that matters. Only 2 people have said to me that anything about me looks “pretty” – in 65 years, and they weren’t my parents! I’ve discovered through crafting that while I might not be pretty myself, I can make pretty things, where people say “Oh, that’s so pretty”. They want to have them, because they appreciate them, and appreciate their worth.

So while I may not feel that about myself I can feel it about the things I make. This is new to me, but that’s what crafting has done, it’s allowed me to contribute “pretty” to the world. Through crafting I feel it slightly myself; I made these things so there must be prettiness in me”.

Some of these themes we deliberately set out to show, we learnt others as and after we completed the piece.

We are proud of what we have made together. It has allowed us to demonstrate to the world (and ourselves) that we are so much more than what’s been done to us!

Contributions from survivors

Here’s some ideas that one of the Arts with Hearts crafters would like to share with you.

Here’s what one survivor, shared anonymously, has been creating during lockdown, and what their pictures mean to them.

“I like to dream that I am on a beach, anywhere in the world”.

“This is a picture of my little mate. I walk her for her owners. She makes me laugh and smile. She gives fantastic cuddles! The girl is a furry legend!”

Arts with Heartser, Kobra, has sent in these stunning paintings she’d like to share with us. All are painted with acrylics.

One of our crafters made these charming dinosaurs out of salt dough when she ran out of clay they use at Arts with Hearts. Decorated with acrylic paint, with the glitter stuck on with pva glue. If you’d like to make your own dinosaurs click here for the salt dough recipe.

Knit your own coronavirus

This was sent in by one of the Arts with Heartsers. They write, “I believe it’s hard to fear something too much if you can knit it! I hope it can give some sense of control over something that feels scary and beyond our control. It may also help in explaining coronavirus to children in a non-threatening way”.

If you’d like to make one just click below for instructions.

This was sent in by another of our Arts with Heartsers, and we couldn’t agree more!

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