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I woke up one morning to find my life upside down and scattered across the floor; and as I experienced my emotional response, I have become curious about how different people make sense of their lives. After the Growing Older exhibition in 2015, I have felt struck by the heartfelt stories shared.
Beginning by looking at sense of self
In order to begin exploring, I must start with myself and the labels that I attach to my sense of identity. I must begin by exploring what my sense of identity is, what I am attached to and the stories I give behind that. This is the beginning of a very interesting journey, I have had conversations with people about their emotions, their clothing, their families, their bodies, their health, their preferences and dislikes, as well as what they feel is morally right and wrong (their stance in life), their gender identity, and their expression of "self." I learned whilst studying both social sciences and early psychology about how, as we grow up, most of us have a need to find a place of belonging and how this creates a sense of "me" and "them." How we wear metaphorical badges, be this clothing, hair styles, attitudes, material items, how we have our house decorated, how we tend to our gardens, all the things that give each of us an individual sense of identity, but also as sense of belonging with others. Us humans are very, necessarily, social creatures. Compared to animals, we are quite vulnerable on our own, particularly as very young children, when we are completely unable to defend ourselves safely and effectively for a good number of years. We are not like ducklings taught to swim by our mothers and then free to go, not like kittens that can stand within a week or so and then within eight to nine weeks live independently as long as there is a source of food. Not like horses, which are born walking rather quickly. We are utterly defenceless, helpless, and completely reliant on attaching to a caregiver for safety. This makes us hugely vulnerable and makes us attach to a sense of felt identity, feeding a belief system which in turn feeds our sense of identity of belonging or not. The latter has serious detrimental effects on our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. As we grow, we are exposed to each of our cultures, our wider societies, our closer communities... expectations are given to us very early on from our families (which were previously placed upon them or based in their sense of achievements or fears), all of which contribute to this experience of our sense of "self." Drink me, eat me. You will be better, faster, thinner, stronger, wiser. Believe me and you will be with the right crowd and experience happiness, fulfilment, disbelieve them, or you are fundamentally wrong and will suffer incredibly.
So who are we? Each of us? What is this sense of self made up of in each of our circumstances? What has informed our feelings and our physical, emotional, and mental growth? I'm taking some time in this process of change that I'm facing right now to really reflect on my own sense of "self."
What's your story and how are you making sense of it?
I will be travelling to different parts of the world carrying out artistic journalism. I am looking to connect with you and your stories. I would like to hear about your experiences and how you make sense of your world.
Essentially, I will be exploring what it means to be human, the range of emotions we experience from negative to positive, and how we make sense of them. I will be hoping to gain understanding of the fundamental human experience; what shapes our logic, hearts, and minds. Throughout the project, I will be collaborating with established bodies/communities that are similarly asking these questions. I hope to stretch my creative work and will share the process as I reflect throughout the journey. With much learning from my last couple of exhibitions, I will exhibit my collection of works in stages. Similar to the Growing Older work, I will have a particular call for interactive participation. My journey begins by travelling my homeland, Scotland, throughout September 2016. I will share this explorative journey right here with you.
What makes us all who we are?
I am ready to begin stripping away the layers and conditioning whilst learning what this "I/me" paradigm is all about. How attached I am to things and ideas and how that creates the life I experience whilst being curious about what could be experienced differently. With gentle curiosity, I am one human hoping to make sense of my own life whilst learning how you make sense of yours.