Last Saturday I had my first experience of taking my artwork to a market stall.
This is something I have been intending to do for quite some time, but have always put it off. One reason is falling behind with my university work because of suffering with a severe episode of depression since October, which has left me struggling a lot with dissociative symptoms.
I’ve had to cut down hours in work because problems like cognitive dysfunction, short-term memory loss and the panic attacks following hallucination have kept me in the house as much as is possible and have massively slowed down my ability to write and research for university. As a result, I haven’t felt like it’s been justifiable to dedicate a lot of time to my personal artwork having cut down on hours of illustrating in work.
However, I’m sure anyone who is familiar with this blog knows how much I advocate for the benefits of drawing for managing my mental ill health. Over the past few months I’ve been making sure to dedicate some time to my personal drawing because I’ve realised that I need to be more realistic when considering how successfully I can work on something when I just cannot process, logically handle or even remember information.
I’m so passionate about the research I’m doing that my sole concern is doing it justice. For the first time I am accepting the limitations some symptoms put on my ability to work. On days that I feel capable I still work obsessively, but I’m beginning to let go of that fixation on the days where symptoms are so overwhelming that I simply cannot think or function in a way that makes me capable.
So instead of sinking into hopeless, obsessive self-punishing until I get something done, I spend that time as productively as I can. Sometimes sensory overload makes it impossible to do anything at all and sometimes I can’t bear to face even drawing because at my lowest even art feels empty and hopeless. But when the main issues are confusion, delirium and anxiety, drawing seems to be the only type of grounding technique that works for me, and so I push myself to draw as much as I possibly can.
I signed up for the Bridgend CF31 Street Market on an anxious, determined whim in which I felt that I needed to stop postponing everything. For such a long time I’d put off making prints of my artwork in itself, again being fixated on other things I needed to do, and it’s something that I regret. The nature of this condition means that there will always be limitations placed on one of the things I’m striving to achieve; that doesn’t mean that I stop working on it, but on days where I am completely incapable it’s OK to focus on something separate if I can face it productively under the circumstances.
Dedicating that time has really paid off for me. It always feels like a risk taking time away from the goal with the most obstacles, but I wanted to write about this because it really has been beneficial in a few ways. I’m still struggling with the same problems, but I feel like I’m making better progress now than I have done for around nine months. I’m spreading my desperate fixation across a few ambitions, and that is making it easier to achieve small steps in the right direction with all of my goals.
I was terrified that I wouldn’t sell anything after I signed up for the market. However, as I started going through my portfolio, looking through paintings and drawings I had completely forgotten about, I began to see it more as a chance to collect together all of my work. It started to feel more of a chance to show the result of all of my efforts – to see all of these pieces of art together which had been born out of times of complete hopelessness. It felt like a collection showing how far I’d come not just in terms of artistic progression but in terms of sheer determination.
As it turns out, I had an even better response than I could have hoped for. I had set a goal with the stall that I thought in itself was unrealistic, but thanks to everyone I got to four times as much. I can’t explain how wonderful it feels. It’s not only great in terms of building and progressing with my artwork, but also in regards to just feeling like I’ve won a small battle against my condition, which is certainly not something I’ve felt for some time.
I truly cannot thank everyone enough for their constant support. And, for every person who met me for the first time in the market and enjoyed looking through my work, you have no idea how happy it made me. Diolch yn fawr, fawr iawn I chi gyd 🙂 Thank you all very, very much.
I have made a new page to keep updates about future events; I will also be holding a few competitions soon 🙂