I am very happy to announce that Mindful Art Workshop has received its first art commission! This week, I will be shipping our gift tags from Toronto to Twillingate Newfoundland. You may be asking yourself, umm, where is Twillingate and how did you end up connecting to a small town of 2,269 people located off the northeastern shore of the island of Newfoundland?
The story begins with Nancy Morin, an Occupational Therapist (OT) from Fredericton New Brunswick. She was reading the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapist magazine, called CAOTNow, and saw a very practical article called Exploring Mindfulness Meditation in Occupational Therapy: An introduction to Basic Practice, written by Nina Elliot, an Occupational Therapist from Newfoundland. Thanks to technology and the good hearts of OTs, it is several months later and we have all grown new project together!
Amazing is the power of the internet and social media to connect like minded people working towards the same goals. Nina, Nancy, and I have exchanged thoughts, ideas, and inspiration. We are three OTs interested in meditation and art and wanting to create a positive change in the work spaces we occupy.
Recently, I received a hand-written letter in the mail. I like getting things in the mail; it feels like a gift. Most of the time, it is bills or advertisements; this time the letter was a precious gift of kindness. Nina sent a cheque, a note, and her quirky inspiration!
So who is Nina? She is an OT and a person who is passionate about meditation, art, and craftivism (Activism through Art and Craft). She writes has a blog called Rock Vandals, in which “the aim is to surprise and delight through creative acts in otherwise neglected spaces.” She has recently created a campaign call Old Manolis and the Sea to bring awareness to the effects of oil spills on the fragile marine ecosystem. She wrote about Craftivism, which
“uses craft as a form of expression and political action and is often referred to as gentle, loving activism. The form is familiar and designed to encourage viewers to explore the issue and draw conclusions for themselves.”
To bring awareness to this issue, Nina gathered knitters and crocheters; “nine knitters and two crocheters answered the call, generously donating their wool, expertise, and artistic talent to create over 40 unique starfish for the exhibit”.
I used to knit, but had given it up many years ago because I was bored of knitting in a straight line and did not have the inspiration to follow a pattern to knit a sweater. Viewing Nina’s display of starfish on the rocks has inspired me to start knitting again. And Nina’s offer of a downloadable pattern for the starfish on her website was further inspiration. If you are a knitter or crocheter perhaps you would like to join Nina and her Rock Vandals!
I was sharing with Nina my excitement about visiting England for a summer meditation festival and retreat. Prior to the festival, I will be going to London and visiting an organization call Headway, which provides services to people with a brain injury. Headway East London has an art studio full of beautiful art pieces created by persons with head injuries; the studio has regular art shows and exhibits.
Seeing the studio inspires me to have the intension to learn to create sculpture. Viewing the studio has planted images in my mind of the possibilities of an art program for persons with a head injury. I will also be visiting Headway in Essex to explore the day program and share ideas on how meditation can be modified for persons with a head injury.
Coincidentally, Nina informed me that she used to volunteer for Headway. Her inspiration for Rock Vandals comes from Knit the City in London, England. So what is Knit the City? They describe themselves as “Operating from a secret underground wool-lined bunker in the heart of the busy metropolis of London, Knit the City’s Yarn Corps spend most of their lives operating under assumed names and living their lives like every day people”.
What is it that they do? The group engages in “Guerilla knitting or ‘yarnstorming’ is the art of conjuring up a piece of knitting or crochet, taking out out in the world, releasing it into the wild, and running away like a mad thing.” The picture below is an example of their creation.
I had to laugh while looking at this picture. It certainly left an impression in my mind. Seeing the squid and the beautiful starfish, I decided to purchase knitting needles and orange yarn; perhaps a fun project will emerge from this! A while ago, I had given away my knitting needles and yarn to a friend, who then kindly knitted a dish cloth and cute pouch for me. Perhaps it’s time to once again pick up the knitting needles and see what I can create. Although I cannot knit a giant squid, I can definitely try to knit a starfish.
As one therapist inspires another to start knitting, I hope that the art work from our workshop will inspire someone in Newfoundland to start meditating, carving, and stamping!