Tag Archives: Scars

Black hole of grief

I took this image of my painted body soon after I had had my mastectomy This close up image of my chest wall painted black is a grim reminder of my missing breast. I have carried this image around with me for the last few years . It has been a strong symbol of my grief.

The black space

I peer into the white rimmed
black space.
Where my left breast used to be
now looks empty
Bottomless
Black.

My rounded breast
punctuated by a nipple
dripping in red paint
proudly adorns my right chest.

It has such beautiful symmetry
sensual shape
just the right size
to be gently cupped by a hand.

The concaved black emptiness
stares out at me
like an unblinking eye.

A large black pupil
holding hidden depths
of unknown meaning.

Kay Gravell
29th April 2010

 

Advertisements

My scar fades into the background of my life

My scar on my chest seemed so big when I first saw it. I was conscious of it; It’s colour, texture, sensation. Now it is becoming increasingly like just another scar on my body. Another mark on the landscape of my body, another story captured in my body which can be read like Braille.

My scar is a gently reminder
A visible trace of my breast that was
A tear covering my heart
No longer cushioned by my breast
My heart beat is strong and loud

Kay Gravell May 2012

 

My Scar

My scar fades into the background of my life

My scar on my chest seemed so big when I first saw it. I was conscious of it; It’s colour, texture, sensation. Now it is becoming increasingly like just another scar on my body. Another mark on the landscape of my body, another story captured in my body which can be read like Braille.

My scar is a gently reminder
A visible trace of my breast that was
A tear covering my heart
No longer cushioned by my breast
My heart beat is strong and loud

Kay Gravell May 2012

Scar Prints

I came across this website which contains images of scar prints http://www.tedmeyer.com/

The following is taken from Ted Meyer’s website “Scars mark a turning point in peoples’ lives; sometimes for good but often otherwise. Each scar comes with a story. Why is it there? Would the person have died without surgery? How did the “scaring event” effect them emotionally? Scars can mark entering into or out of a disability. Going from cancer to health, limited mobility to full movement. They freeze a moment in time, a car accident or gun shot. These mono-prints, taken directly off the skin of my model – subjects are portraits of those events that changed their lives. I accentuate the details of the scar with gouache and color pencil. My hope is to turn these lasting monuments, often thought of as unsightly, into things of beauty. ”

Reading this I am reminded of the body prints I took of my own body pre and post my breast cancer surgery . There is something powerful about painting directly onto my body and then making a printed image on paper. I describe the process below:

I cover the floor with black plastic, set out the paper and paints and start to smear the paint all over my body. Initially it feels strange. It connects to my childhood and the experience of not being allowed to make a mess; to stay clean. Then I begin to enjoy the decadence of the feeling of the paint on my naked body. “I paint to create an energy of emotion and body memory into text” (Minge, 2007, p. 259). I paint myself in blood red and lie on the paper in different poses. I have no idea how the image will come out. I just go with what I feel like doing. I then add black and blue. I keep sticking to the paper as the paint dries. I am totally in the moment as I use my body as both an object by which to apply paint and as a canvas. I relate to the Australian artist Theresa Byrnes when she says, “I was not separate from the painting. Where did I stop and it begin?” (Byrnes, 1999, p. 274).  

  I continue to smear the paint on my body. My body, and not the paper, is now the more important canvas of expression. I swirl the paint all over myself luxuriating in the feeling of immersion in the blood red and black paint. I feel the different texture as the paint starts to dry and cake on my skin. All my senses are alive and attuned to the act of painting myself, my body, every crevice and bulge. I feel my skin move as I apply the paint. My muscles contract as I shift positions. I feel alive in every fibre of my body. I am my body.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Beauty
Beauty is in my lived in skin.
The wrinkles, lines and scars
evidence of a life
lived fully.

 Beauty is in the light that
shines from within.
Beauty is in my connection to others.
I
n our lives entwined.

Kay Gravell
September 2008

 

Body Mapping

“Written on the body is a secret code only visible in certain lights: the accumulations of a lifetime gather there. In places the palimpsest is so heavily worked that the letters feel like Braille. I like to keep my body rolled up away from prying eyes, never unfold too much, or tell the whole story.” This quote from Written on the body by Jeanette Winterson (2001) eloquently resonates with my interest in exploring the body landscape.

I facilitated a workshop at the Australian and New Zealand Art Therapy (ANZATA) national conference in November. In this workshop I described my method of immersing myself in the ‘writing on my body’ through painting my body and making body prints as a means of making meaning of my diagnosis of breast cancer and consequent surgery. The workshop  provided an overview of my own process and the opportunity to participate in an experiential activity of accessing our own stories through the marks left on our bodies.

I believe our body is a rich tapestry of our lived experience that we can read and use as an access point into an inquiry into our own life. The landscape of our bodies contain the features, of our life journey – scars, wrinkles, shape, etc.   In this workshop the participants were firstly invited to inquire into the stories written on their  hands through the marks on their hands – lines, wrinkles or scars. We often don’t spend time just looking at our hands. To really see them. Iasked people to sit and just meditate on their hands. Really look at them, turn them over, look at them as if they are totally new to you, look at the colour, the texture, the lines. Are their scars? What stories are contained in the lines and marks on your hand? Share one story of an experience that you found written on your hand.

I then invited the particpants to sit with their body – spend some time just looking at your body and noticing the different marks that are written on your body – look again at your hands, your arms and legs and feet, feel it, is it smooth/rough/warm/cold etc. Again notice the textures, marks etc. Then lie down and close your eyes. Scan over your body from the top of head to toes as if you are a camera roaming over your body. What do you see/notice what marks, shapes, scars etc. What do you feel as you move over and through your body. Try and really tune into the physical shape of your body, the texture, topography. Your camera can move over your back what do you see as you move down along the back of your head over your back, your legs.

Is there a mark on your body that is drawing your attention that you are curious to explore more? Are their feelings attached to different parts of your body? Can you start to detect stories that are written on your body.

The particpants were then invited to work with a partner and create an outline of their body shape to work on. they then created a body map by filling in the outline of their body with whatever came to them from the meditation on their body. They were then encouraged to work with another person to inquire into the narratives that were contained in their body.

The images below are photos of some of the particpants body maps who gave me permission to use their images.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I had also come across a Chilean woman who was working with body mapping; she did a poster presentation at the International Conference on for the study of sexuality, culture and society in Madrid in July last year. I’ve put some info I got from her below.

Body Mapping Jimena Silva Segovia Dr. of anthropologyjsilva@ucn.cl
Universidad Catolica de Norte in Antofagusta Chile
Thesis “power relationships between Chilean women from two generations: forming and breaking alliances, dissidence and oppostition between mothers and daughters Beca Conicyt 2006 – 2009

Methodology of Body Mapping
1. Biographical writings – help participants to create their life trajectories – autobiographies and individual’s self interpretations
2. Narrating the written (De Villers, 1999 & Ferrareti, 1981) – horizontal, vertical, winding or circular openings into lived experience.
3. Body mapping – using collage, writing painting etc on outline of body shape.
4. Emerging body expressions – conglomerate of different expressions leading into intersubjective work where participants generate new opportunities for rebuilding themselves and recreate their body project again