Carpets as therapy? Yes, it's unconventional but art, in all its forms, and can be a vital part of therapy; carpets included. Granted, the 21st century has brought along new ideas and concepts and this is just a small fragment of our innovative world. Continue reading to learn more about my story and how carpets can be useful tools in therapy:
It all began as a career, working as a certified mental health nurse. Besides my profession, my passion also came into play, and I had by then acquired a bachelor's degree in fine art and design. As an expert in mental health, design, and art therapy, I enjoy serving the community.
I found a niche and later acquired a master's degree in art psychotherapy, a course that helped combine art and therapy. Today, I pride myself on using art to promote mental health. My unconventional frame of mind led me to start an art therapy program in a mental health hospital in Perth, Western Australia, where I've worked for 22 years.
Working with patients suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been one of the most exciting parts of my journey. Besides my patients, art is who I am; I paint every day and I consider myself to be a free-expression artist.
That said, my history in art and mental health shaped me to be who I am today, which is a carpet designer. Sometimes, I design carpets from scratch, while other times, I am more interested in creating a carpet replica of my artwork.
A few years ago, in 2010, I went to Kashmir as a tourist and found that the people there were suffering the effects of military conflict. This moved me deeply, and I knew that I had to do something about it. It was instrumental in what I do today.
Over three years, I established a self-funded Art therapy project in Kashmir. It allowed me to help young people express their pain, loss, and sadness through art. While working there, I was fascinated by the people's abilities as artists and artisans.
In addition, Mr. Khalid Faridi, an Indian acquaintance who had also been studying in Kashmir, approached me with a brilliant proposal. He wanted to have my artwork converted into rugs by Srinagar weavers. This amazing idea was put into practice three years ago when we started a tiny production operation to weave my artwork into rugs.
Originally, my art was remoulded and woven into silk carpets and wall hangings. The carpets however took more of my attention since they were a direct translation of a free expression painting. This kind of rug is rarely seen on the market.
As I continued painting, I became conscious that my art was to be turned into rugs and my style began to shift. Now I can say without a doubt that rug design is an entirely separate creative area. Consequently, I'm now working on a new line of carpets in Kashmir that combines free expression with fewer markings and colours.
I have a great connection to Kashmir, where I witnessed firsthand the artistry of the weavers. I was dumbfounded; the work was nothing short of amazing! It is with this in mind that we decided to put in the best effort to get competent and skilled craftsmen to transform artwork into rugs. Fortunately, with the help of my coworker and the carpet institution in Kashmir, everything flowed smoothly.
My main goal throughout the entire project was to assist Kashmiri artisans and the weaving business. This is because both had been tainted by the fighting there over the years. Moreover, many weavers were leaving the industry because of political instability. Luckily, we were able to create a more stable atmosphere with better wages, encouraging them to stay.
It's been an incredible experience having my art transformed and specially created into Silk Artwork by Kashmir's top artists. My artwork has been turned into three-dimensional gorgeous items by these superb Persian carpet weavers. These Silk Artworks bring life to any room and help to create an energising mood.
Each piece has been designed with a distinct mood and colour scheme in mind. As such, when a rug is strewn luxuriously across the floor, it automatically creates a positive mood and ambience. This can easily influence the mood and feelings of people who sit on them.
Some are warm and engaging, others are gentle and calming, while others are young and innocent. Either way, each rug features brilliant colours and an interactive, mood-altering presence.
To capture the exquisite details of paint that appeared in my artwork, we had to work with the most suitable material. Overall silk seemed to give us the best results for both the pile and the foundation. Because silk is so delicate and shiny, it complements the brilliance of my artwork.
I believe that being surrounded by beautiful objects enriches our life tremendously. Granted, I've been working with rugs for far too long and understand the impact they can have on a person.
Art therapy, also known as art psychotherapy or creative arts therapy, promotes self-awareness and emotional development. It is a two-step process that begins with the creation of art and ends with the understanding of its meaning.
Fundamentally, art therapy is founded on the notion that visual symbols and images are the most accessible natural means of communicating to the human experience. This is as per Freud and Jung's theories of the subconscious and unconscious.
Patients are taught to imagine and then generate the thoughts and emotions that they are unable to express verbally. After that, the patient reviews the artwork and interprets its meaning. In this sense, the analysis of the artwork created in art therapy usually assists the patient to get some insight into their thoughts and work through these issues constructively.
Art therapy can be used to treat individuals, groups, and families who face the same mental issues. While art therapy is important for these activities, one of the most important aspects of good therapy is that the patient determines the interpretation of the artwork.
Apart from artists gaining vital insight into their emotions, thoughts, and feelings through art therapy, here are some of the most common advantages of art therapy:
When done well, art therapy results in both mental and emotional clarity. As a result, the artist can understand themselves more deeply and intimately.
The development of physical rewards can help to boost self-esteem and self-worth. For the artistic processes, personal fulfilment is derived from both the creative and analytical processes.
Art therapy can assist patients in visually expressing emotions and worries that they may not be able to articulate in other ways. In addition, it gives them a sense of control over these sensations.
Through art therapy, patients get to relax and release their stress. More importantly, it helps them cope with their discomfort. This therapy can help people deal with anger, resentment, and other emotional stressors while also promoting physiological healing.
Unwinding while creating art directly lessens mental stress. In addition, it is a means to detach from negativity and self-sabotaging talks, as well as consistent mental fatigue. As such, it is the perfect means to acquire perspective, take risks, and discover new ways of being.
The symbolic expression makes gradual exposure and presentation of traumatic material more palatable. Externalization of painful experiences enhances insight and helps move memories from the present to the past.
The joy of creating art increases the self-esteem of a patient. By so doing it helps to rekindle their passions as well as minimise emotional numbness. More importantly, it aids in the re-establishment of adaptive social functioning.
The produced image serves as a mirror, allowing for self-reflection and further exploration of identity. The patient finally sees the many different ways of thriving despite their challenges. Remember, making art functions in a similar way to meditation and prayer.
Firesun is based on my partnership with Kashmiri weavers using my artwork. It's all about being brave and enthusiastic. It's a story about how I used art to express and engage my genuine, free-flowing, spontaneous self. As such, it's a path of self-discovery and fulfilment, as well as a method to break free from old habits.
Firesun is a project in which I use my imagination, enthusiasm, and curiosity to explore the inner essence and meaning of life. My enthusiasm and ingenuity are sparked by passion and creativity, which often lead to harmony, vigour, and nourishment. My art is a process and a dance with the unknown, in which I create beauty through intuition and spontaneous experiments.
For many years, I have worked as an artist and art therapist, and I have found the creative process to be both stimulating and enjoyable. I've been motivated to travel to civilizations and communities that use brilliant colours and have a strong connection to nature and the environment.
Additionally, I've visited India several times and have always been inspired by the tapestry of colours they utilise in their daily life. Indeed, there is beauty all around us.
Making art and living a beautiful life is a method to reflect nature's beauty. The elements of fire, earth, air, ether, water, and space, serve as sources of inspiration for colourful and vibrant artwork.
It is an integrative process that allows you to explore your inner friend and foe, fragrance, and poison. The procedure can be agonising, a judgment, a blast, or a revelation. All in all, making art is a calming balm that aids in escaping imprisonment and mediocrity.