Voices of Makers #3

Jeweller and AAS Member Jo Garner reflects on how she is coping emotionally and the ways her feelings and patterns of life have altered during lockdown and the pandemic.

Our Voices of Makers blog is a space to share experiences, information and ideas to support and inspire each other, and is part of our Rethinking our Rhythms programme. Please tell us your stories and thoughts – get in touch via instagram, twitter or online form.

Early April 2020

I’m being paid to stay at home and work on my own projects, it’s the artists dream and to a certain extent it is true. I have been doing this a bit.

My main struggle is around structure. I can’t seem to create any and I swing between thinking it’s not important so long as I’m being productive somehow and that it is important and would make me far more productive.

Fragile Balloon, Jo Garner

I feel a lot of guilt too. I want desperately to be able to help, but at the same time don’t feel I have the mental capacity for it. Things I do which do help, chat to friends pretty much daily, meditate around 10 minutes a day with the insight timer app, sometimes I go for a run, sometimes I do yoga, sometimes I go for a walk. I’m pretty into baking and food in general so I’ve been doing/eating a fair bit of that.

A friend is working towards her coaching qualification and has been using me as a guinea pig and that has been very helpful. Spending an hour focusing on how to develop projects and listening to what’s holding me back and questioning why, has been invaluable. We’ve done this via Zoom once every two weeks.

I’ve always written a lot, since I was a teenager as a form of self therapy so I’m still doing that, probably more often. It helps to empty my head.

I have no access to a workshop and as I usually work in metal this is a challenge but I’m not wedded to metal and just love making things in general so have been trying to learn goldwork embroidery and running a small kickstarter campaign centred around vulnerability and mental health.

I’m based in London but my family is in Scotland and I feel very tied to the place so I love seeing what AAS is up to. I’m also angry with our government and not really sure what to do about it.

25 April 2020

Reflecting on what I wrote almost a month ago, I feel less angsty than I did then. I’m more at peace with what I can do and what I cannot. I may not feel mentally strong enough to talk to vulnerable people on the phone but I am very capable and happy to take things to food banks and this is more than okay.

What I’m describing may be compassion. I’m learning to have compassion for how I react to a global pandemic.

I’m still struggling with structuring my day and regular sleep patterns but I’m enjoying my days through a combination of short bursts of creative work alongside exercise and meditation. I’ve found that simple repetitive tasks such as 15 minute sketches, embroidering simple patterns or learning to darn are great ways to reduce screen time and anxiety whilst also having achievable and satisfying outcomes.

Darned scarf, detail, Jo Garner

Optimism seems a strange thing to mention when things around us can seem bleak but that is my predominant feeling this week. Optimistic for the ways I can develop my practice during this time. Hopeful that the situation will improve and that I’ll get to hug people before too long. Determined that whatever happens, we’ll get through this together.

19 January 2021

Reflecting on the past year and reading what I wrote here in April I’m struck by the sense of urgency I seem to have given myself about being productive. In hindsight a little more patience wouldn’t have gone a miss.

That being said though, one of the things which began around that time was my involvement in a project which centres around using creativity to process and transform grief.

I’d also been regularly attending mindful art sessions with Eden Silver-Myer which became a sort of meditation. Often whilst in the creative flow of her online workshops, bubbles of emotion would come up that felt unexpected. I’m certain that through the process of no pressure art making my body was trying to process and release difficult emotions which may not have surfaced otherwise.

Later in the year as the grief project developed into the Grief Compass and partnered with the Loss Project, we began thinking of ways to reach people. It seemed natural to invite Eden in to the fold and start developing workshops together. What has come out of this is that Steph Turner, Eden and I are three makers, who through our individual journeys, have become committed to using our skills to help others process and transform feelings of loss and grief, amongst other things.

We hope that through participating in zero pressure workshops makers will be able to take some much needed down time. Think of it as an opportunity to reflect on, relieve and process much of what life has thrown at us whilst also connecting with others in a safe and honest environment.

Read the experiences of other makers: Voices of Makers #1: Carol Sinclair, Voices of Makers #2: Fiona Thompson, Janet Hughes & Kathryn Williamson,  Voices of Makers #3: Jo Garner, Voices of Makers #4 :James Donald, Voices of Makers #5: Clare Waddle of Yellow Broom, Voices of Makers #6: Lorna Brown, Voices of Makers #7 Claire Heminsley, Voices of Makers #8 Olive Pearson and Voices of Makers #9 Ann Marie Shillito.

We are inviting makers & Members to get in touch via instagram, twitter or email with tips on how they are rethinking their rhythms, whether working patterns, things people are doing, or info to share.

We have also created an online page where you can talk about your experiences and share what matters to you.  We give you the option to be anonymous or to provide your name and you can also let us know if we can share it with other makers in our new ‘Voices of Makers’ blogs.  We can’t answer specific questions but if we can offer any suggestions about something we will try and do so.


Top image: Detail of drawing, Jo Garner

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