Puerto Rico’s Financial Troubles Weigh Heavily on a Vibrant Art Scene

Courtesy of ‘Repeating Islands’ this article by James Tarmy appeared in BloombergBusiness. A very interesting read I felt to share. Wishing you all a great weekend!

Puerto Rico’s Financial Troubles Weigh Heavily on a Vibrant Art Scene.



What is art for? Alain de Botton’s animated guide

In this exclusive video for the UK Guardian newspaper, philosopher Alain de Botton gives his top five reasons why art is such a vital force for humanity. Are we wrong to like pretty pictures? Why is some art painful to look at? Can art heal your feelings of urban alienation? Relax, watch and find out. This article was originally featured in September 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/video/2014/sep/10/what-is-art-for-alain-de-botton-guide-video

Rebuild By Design- At the Copenhagen Architecture Centre

This week I had the pleasure of visiting friends in Denmark to explore contributing to a very worthwhile project this autumn. Fingers crossed, there will be more to reveal shortly.

In the meantime, it was great to catch up with a number of exhibitions and events in Copenhagen including ‘Rebuild by Design.’

When Hurricane Sandy landed on the American East Coast it left behind chaos and destruction. ‘Rebuild by Design’ was a competition created to find solutions to repairing the damages and making the coastline more resilient to future storms. The exhibition presents a series of 10 solutions. Among the winning projects were OMA and Danish firm BIG who both provided innovative solutions to making the coast a safer place to live.

I was impressed with the many case studies included in the show such as New Meadowlands and Hoboken in New Jersey. I was most impressed with Hunts Point Lifelines, a collaborative project involving Penn Design, Barretto Bay Strategies, Buro Happold and McLaren Engineering amongst others. Hunts Point Lifelines sees jobs and the City’s food supply as critical resilience infrastructure, and communities as powerful integrators of economic, social and ecological potential to strengthen the whole, rather than the water’s edge alone.

The exhibition is supported by Realdania and is developed by  Rebuild by Design in cooperation with The Danish Architecture Centre. The show runs until 9th April 2015 but for further info please visit the Danish Architecture Centre website.

Easy Reading is Damn Hard Writing!

Africa Writes 2014
Africa Writes 2014

I had an enjoyable weekend at Africa Writes, the Royal African Society’s annual literature and book festival in association with the British Library. The energy and enthusiasm of some reminded me of the George R.R. Martin quote “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.” We can undervalue to power of literature and worth it holds in preserving our consciousness.

Launched in 2012, Africa Writes annually showcases established and emerging talent from the African continent and its diaspora in what is now the UK’s biggest celebration of contemporary African writing. The weekend delivered an exciting and varied programme of book launches, readings, performance and discussions, featuring debut authors alongside acclaimed writers and poets. I’m glad I attended, particularly since I discovered I’m related to one of the guest speakers! The event also highlighted the disturbing challenges many black writers and publishing houses face regarding distributing books where protagonist are people of colour, represented in ways far removed from the negative stereotypes seen in the media.

We talk about equally, living in a progressive and educating society, but this is hampered when black authors and their chosen subjects are marginalized or perceived to be relevant only the minority groups they come from. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of this event, the authors and represented publishing companies despite the challenges. For more info visit Africa Writes website.

The Problem with Virtual Social Networking

I’ve been thinking about Facebook and social network sites. Love them or hate them, they can tell us a lot about friends and associates. Having a chat with a friend recently made me think about them and how they ‘fit’ into our ever-increasing busy lifestyles. It also made me think how detached people can be without knowing it.. Yes, I find them necessary and beneficial for work, they’re great for bridging links, particularly with friends abroad and professional groups but am I the only one getting wound up by the desensitising of messaging services and various social apps, accessing records and data they don’t need from our phones, brainwashing us to depend on their products for social engagement?

We’re adapting supposed convenient but lazy ways to ‘keep in contact’ which is a poor substitute for engaging with people direct. If you want to know what’s going on in the world don’t think everyone lives on Facebook 24/7. They don’t. It’s not just about you, how many likes, follows or comments you get for a picture, a YouTube video or an embarrassing funny photo either. If you care enough about friends, particularly those who are relatively local, pick up the phone or Skype once in a while!

We’re moving away from social networking towards an anti social networking culture, cluttered with inward looking people, massaging their egos online, attempting to reinvent themselves in the virtual world instead of creating a fruitful life in the real one. I’m not on the brink of closing down my Facebook page or returning to the stone ages in communication. I’m not anti Facebook either. I just think we should put into perspective how we shape social behaviour, determined by our chosen methods of communicating. Life is for living, experiencing the real world through engagement and not just getting lost in front of a pc, tablet or cell phone, chatting a lot but saying nothing! Sorry, my rant is over lol. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and fruitful week ahead!

Ealing, London: Celebrating Architects of the Past as it Designs for the Future

Villa Savoye
Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye

I recently received an invitation to submit work as part of the Ealing Open Exhibition 2014 at the PM Gallery & House, Ealing Broadway, west London. I haven’t been there in quite a while so decided to visit the building last week. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the gallery’s current exhibition entitled ‘Living Laboratory’ featuring work by British photographer Richard Pare.

The exhibition features photographs of buildings by Le Corbusier and Konstantin Melnikov.  Pare’s work pays attention to the character of solid structures and how, through subtle and yet dramatic effects of light and varied seasonal conditions, they transform into some of the most recognisable examples of modernist architecture.

For over six decades, Le Corbusier revolutionised the ways in which we inhabit space, reinventing the idea of a house, designing radical furniture and proposing a variety of urban planning schemes. Amongst Pare’s work are some of Le Corbusier’s most famous buildings such as the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh, India and the Villa Savoye near Paris. Execution of the architect’s celebrated ‘ five points of architecture’ are illustrated with fine examples of open plan spaces, free from the requirements of supporting walls,horizontal windows, light- filled interiors and roof gardens that create iconic and immediately recognisable buildings.

Equally, Konstantin Melnikov was one of the leading modernist architects whose radical work emerged during a period of little more than a decade when practitioners were endeavouring to establish a new architecture for a new age. His work in the exhibition includes the family home, which served as an experimental studio and his personal investigation into the concept of the functioning house. The show runs until 11 May 2014.

The PM site comprises Pitzhanger Manor, the Grade 1 listed house designed by British architect Sir John Soane and gallery, located in the extension added in the 1940’s.  Ealing Council has started a major programme to conserve and develop Pitzhanger Manor, the gallery and adjacent park.The project vision is to:

“…reveal and restore this remarkable historic villa in its original landscape and – through innovative and imaginative interpretation, activities and education – enrich all visits by local residents, students of architecture and Soane scholars worldwide.”

Please visit the PM Gallery  & House website for further details. http://www.ealing.gov.uk/pmgalleryandhouse

The Importance of Art Psychotherapy- In Conversation with Carol Phillips

Carol Phillips
Carol Phillips

Due to working with children and adults with learning difficulties I’ve become very interested in psychotherapy and how local governments and social services accommodate the skillsets of art psychotherapists.

I was very happy to meet practicing artist and art psychotherapist Carol Phillips who was happy to share her views on the subject.

What exactly is art psychotherapy and how does it work?

Art Psychotherapy is similar to talking therapies in that it draws on common psychotherapeutic theory but is enhanced by the use of image as another tool for expression and as a tangible representation of symptoms, and of change. The use of image also presents an opportunity to view one’s internal world from a distance, offering the individual taking part the chance to objectively reflect on subjective experiences via the creative process and the three-way relationship between client, therapist and image.

What are the social benefits of Art Psychotherapy?

The social benefits can be considered in a number of ways. An individual looking to take part in therapy is usually looking to make developments personally and inter- personally.

Art Psychotherapy, whether it is group therapy or individual one-to-one therapy, will aid the resolution of problems, complexes or symptoms. This will typically enhance social functioning.

What it also does is work along a life affirming, almost spiritual angle allowing an individual to work on the validation of their own individual and unique style and the creation of a meaningful existence.

A deeper connection to self and ‘other’ can be proven to work via the use of commonly known psychotherapeutic techniques, but I believe it is also enhanced through the understanding of self via the therapeutic triad: therapist + image+ client. This puts a different slant on things and works on a deeper level.

Significant to this deeper level of understanding is the acknowledgement of everyone’s connection to universal and archetypal symbols. These things are fundamental to our existence and understanding of the world around us. They have been utilised by ancient and modern civilisations within ritualised and religious practises. These things represent our innate connection to each other and to the universe.

Lastly, the understanding of self through the image is often non-verbal and allows a fluid link to deeply subconscious thoughts, feelings, beliefs and perceptions generated before language was fully developed. A primitive connection to process and form replicates the early mother and child relationship, which usually allows an increased appreciation and attachment to people, places and things.

Little Girl by Carol Phillips
Little Girl by Carol Phillips

Is it fair to say your profession and its societal contribution goes unrecognised?

I think that the use of Arts Therapies has grown and that its benefits are more acknowledged now. Art therapy was mostly used within psychiatric settings and now they are used in schools, rehabilitation services, youth services, palliative care and many more. Despite this, and although I haven’t been out of work since I finished training, I feel that it can sometimes be hard getting colleagues, managers, institutions etc to take you seriously. Sometimes you can be working with a young person or adult and the process of development, healing and engagement can be sabotaged by those who don’t respect the need for boundaries, confidentiality, respect for the image and safeguarding of the therapeutic/ artistic space. In short the importance of creativity and its benefits are often minimised, therefore it is at times passed aside or forgotten about and neglected.

I’m an advocate for more community art and increased dialogue between artists and other professions working in the public sector. Is there an advance in the way health, education and social services incorporate art as a therapeutic resource?

I think there are definitely advances in thinking and the use of art image and practice, however I think there is still much more work to be done. Arts therapies are losing out to evidence based therapies that are based on the easy collection of statistics and the use of medicalised assessments.

This type of evaluation is hard to use alongside creative therapies and in a way shouldn’t be used alongside creative therapies. Creative therapies talk about something more subjective, about the human experience, something that is enough in itself and doesn’t need qualifying.

There is in my opinion a tendency to follow whatever is deemed popular by governing bodies, and this acceptance of facts without substance means that art therapies and other arts initiatives are not maintained and supported even though they obviously work well and are beneficial for those taking part. Such fickle swaying from one thing to another is not mature thinking. A balanced approach would see all these things given appropriate space and representation.

How did you get into art and art psychotherapy?

I have always been interested in making art and being creative, and have maintained it within hobbies for many years. I finished studying art, however, at ‘A’ level and moved on to study dance for a short period and then did an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Healing Arts.

During this time I became fascinated by psychotherapeutic practises, especially the process of personality development and an individual’s move towards individuation.

After this course I had in mind the idea that I would do either dance therapy or art psychotherapy. To do an accredited arts therapies course you are required to have two years initial experience working with vulnerable groups. It was during this time working as an activities coordinator within a psychiatric day unit that I fully witnessed the benefits of spontaneous image making for those struggling with emotional difficulties. After this experience I knew for definite that I wanted to make this my career and applied to study at the University of Hertfordshire.

Gestation by Carol Phillips
Gestation by Carol Phillips

How can artists of various disciplines become further involved in art psychotherapy?

It depends how you want to go about it, I think. Formal training is one thing and any artist, actor or dancer can explore the arts therapies courses that are becoming more widespread within England and abroad, either as short courses or degree courses.

There are usually quite a few opportunities to join art therapists in community-based projects. However it can be difficult to join in with art therapy projects due to the therapeutic boundaries and confidentiality. This would mean the artist working in a way that might seem unnatural for them, although I am sure it would be a positive development and I know artists who work very sensitively with communities. It is also very therapeutic for those taking part.

Art therapy isn’t for everybody, however, and the British Association of Art Therapy regularly holds seminars that are open to everyone. As an artist and a therapist I try to meet up with other artists and get involved with arts projects, exhibitions, and other arts initiatives happening around me.


I wish Carol the very best with her career and look forward to the possibility of working with her. For further information on her services please visit her website carolphillips.yolasite.com