APP Art Workshop 1: On May 14-17th this... - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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APP Art Workshop 1

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On May 14-17th this year, APP held our first Art Workshop at the beautiful location of Coombe Farm in South Devon. This workshop brought together thirteen women with experience of Postpartum Psychosis to connect with each other, relax in the countryside and most importantly get our creative sides engaged! We produced an incredible body of work which will be displayed on the the APP website soon - we'll keep you updated. This post is a space for workshop participants to keep in touch, and for anybody interested in art and recovery from Postpartum Psychosis to come and join us.

So to kick us off... how has it been going home? I'm missing you all already! How did your partner and children feel about your artwork? Has anybody got things up on the walls at home yet? My two girls loved to touch the big 'Klimt' style piece I made, and to feel the texture of the gems. They have made me some potato printed flowers to stick in the mother's hair so it feels good to change the work and develop it now that I'm home. They were very excited to try out the lino cut as well - we found it works OK even with poster paint. My youngest calls it her 'love onion' which is so sweet!

Looking forward to hearing how you all got on showing your work to your loved ones at home.

19 Replies

It was such a fantastic weekend and so lovely to meet those of you I hadn't met before. It feels like coming back to a different world here, especially as it's very rainy this morning!

My artwork isn't on display yet, I'm not that organised! I sprayed my pastel ones with hairspray (if anyone wasn't there for that advice, it apparently helps it set - spray from a distance!) last night.

My son was very interested in my pictures, he knew the one of us holding hands was 'mummy and me'. I put a bird cage print in his room on a notice board he's got and he just kept asking if there's a bird hiding inside it (I love their imagination, I wonder what extra meaning they'll find in all our work!)

My husband thought it all looked great from the photos I took at the exhibition.

I love that your girls are adding to your work Naomi, making it even more special. And 'love onion', beautiful :)

I hope everyone got back ok.

Jenny xx

Hi Naomi

thanks for kicking the post off. It was such an amazing weekend which I will never forget... thank you APP so much!!

It was great to come home too - my little one wanted to make more of my trees too (my lino cut) which I will probably do with him today! He said lots and lots of trees in different colours. He loved my paintings too, he loved that his name was on one of them. He put them on his art table, I need to try and wrestle them off him though so I can frame them! My partner really liked them too, and he isn't someone who praises just for the sake of it, he only says something when he means it, so it meant a lot :) I am planning to frame a few of them in the next few days, I need to decide where to put them.

But yes - it was just amazing - cathartic, healing, bonding, empowering, safe... and it was so moving to meet you all, to hear your stories...

For those who weren't at the weekend and are reading this, APP will probably run it again next year - make sure you book on it!!

Thanks Naomi for starting us off on this post.

The weekend was a fantastic experience which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I'm not the most artistic person and (as I expected) my daughter was amused at my attempts at art! However my husband was very moved by the words that I wrote.

It was a profound experience meeting such wonderful women and a privilege to be with you all. I feel strengthened and healed in so many ways and will carry that forward now into my every day life.

Val xx

Hi yes it was truly a fantastic weekend in deepest Devon. What a group of artistic, supportive, articulate, funny and special women. It was a really cathartic experience for me.

My experience of pp was 14 years ago and to some degree 10 years ago. It was very emotional for me as those memories had been put to one side. Until this weekend I'd not had the opportunity to share with women who 'got it'.

Thank you APP I really appreciate you including me.

All the APP volunteers & staff were fantastic and Coombe Farm was an inspired choice, hope you can run this next year so other women can benefit.

Take care all, do some art & look after yourselves.

Charlotte (Princess Charlotte )

It was an amazing weekend, Coombe farm is so beautiful and inspirational. It was great to see the artwork going up so quickly and add to it. I have been out to buy some hairspray and picture frames , worth checking out the charity shops as they had loads. I have shared my artwork and poetry with my dear neighbour and friend who was very interested (and has an understanding of the illness) and the screen printing I have put on the mantlepiece.

I took yesterday off and continued with the artwork coping photos and attempting to draw a strawberry leaf and stinging nettle . I found it really relaxing. An excuse to enjoy the sun and ignore the ironing! I am going to continue adding to my scrapbook as I have found it really helpful. Although my experience of being unwell was nearly twenty years ago the opportunity to share with others who have experienced the same was so valuable.

I was amazed at the quality of the artwork and the individual styles.

Thank you to everyone involved in organising this amazing retreat.

Best wishes xx

Firstly thank-you, a well organised, well thought of event. I feel so inspired to do some form of volunteering for APP now as the women I met were running the charity with such love and commitment. I have been for the last fighting the education system for my son and now it is time to use my energy to support fellow survivors and sufferers. I cannot express in words how much everyone of you meant to me and I shall always think of you all with so much love and laughter (and princess sobs lol!) My frames are bought and waiting my 'Open Studio exhibition',not!

My only regret is that we don't all live in my village...

Well back to reality, the vacuum cleaner wasn't used in 3 days or the duster for that matter, men!

Debs xx

andrea_at_app profile image

Hi everyone! It's so lovely reading all your comments, like you I thought it was a truly amazing & momentous event. It was wonderful meeting & spending time with so many lovely mums & in such a beautiful setting too. (I think there was 13 of us actually, unless my maths is dodgy?). I loved that there was a real bond, understanding & acceptance from all of us, pretty much instantly - I'm not sure you'd get that among many other types of groups.

I was really proud seeing all our artwork displayed in the exhibition, a massive thank you to Naomi for your excellent hosting that night, you were excellent!! The pieces were full of love, strength, & they clearly showed our PP journeys & harrowing experiences but also showed the beauty in life after PP.

I seem to have done nothing but sleep since I got back :-) but in my awake moments, I was pleased that my son (9yrs) was really interested seeing my pieces & all the photos. Hubby made me laugh, he was really surprised that I'd actually produced something that looked arty, "Did you really draw that? No way!" Lol.

IzReb, I hope it can be an annual thing too so other mums can experience it - it was all so much more than just about the art. Scissorsister, your comments about the hoovering & dusting made me laugh, I was dragged round the supermarket on the way home from the station as there was no food in the house! Lol

I'm really missing you guys & know that the wonderful memories, the laughs, the emotions we shared won't be forgotten anytime soon! xx

Hi everyone, I really wanted to go to the art workshop but I live in the US so it wasnt possible. I hope in the future there is a gathering of the same sort in my neck of the woods. Im an art teacher and I have never been one to draw out my emotions. Art has always been an aesthetic focus for me but I am very interested in expressing my emotions through my artwork now and giving lessons that can release emotions for my students. Can anyone explain some of the projects and how they released emotions from their pp experience. Thanks!

Naomi_at_app profile image
Naomi_at_appPartner in reply to bravesurvivor411

Hi bravesurvivor411

Thanks for joining us here - I'm really sorry you couldn't be at the workshop but yes, from the USA to Devon would be quite some journey.

Our workshop was led by a wonderful artist, Julia Vaughan, who also practises as an art therapist. Her website is here so do take a look at her work:

We had six main sessions of producing artwork and I'll try and give you a flavour of them here:

(1) Sun, leaf and tree

To celebrate being in a beautiful location, in springtime we took 15 minutes each to produce three small pieces around the theme of sun, leaf and tree. We had oil pastels and chalk pastels to work with. This was a warm-up exercise and we displayed all our work together on one wall to make a beautiful spring collage.

(2) Our Island

We produced a collaborative piece on a really large scale. We used the island to put memories of good family times, things that held meaning to us about our PP experience and things that celebrated our hopes for time with our families. Every 8 minutes we swapped places with the artist next to us in order to develop their work or add something new of our own. This helped us to start to open up discussions about our memories and our families, and to celebrate our recovery journeys.

(3) What does PP look like?

We took either a moment in time or our whole recovery journey and expressed this using mixed media (pastels, acrylic paint, ready mixed paint, pens, pencils). This was our public facing piece where we tried to create something which would help to give people an insight into what PP felt like. This was the most challenging piece for most of us, but produced really rich work. Lots of us used writing as well as drawing in this piece.

(4) The mother-child relationship

We produced another mixed media piece to celebrate the relationship we now have with our children. This was a good activity to do after the intensity of expressing our PP experiences.

(5) Harbouring

After a showing of some of Julia's work, we produced images where things that were precious to us were 'contained' in a frame. This gave us the opportunity to work in collage and also in 3 dimensions if we wanted to. People used found natural objects and photos in their pieces.

(6) Printing

We used our sketchbooks or previous artwork to create a lino cut of an image that had meaning for us and had the opportunity to create prints on a press. Lots of these images were of the natural world, and followed on from Julia's 'harbouring, containing' themes.

Hope this gives you a good flavour of the workshop, and I'll post here when the work is available to view on the website

Naomi xx

Thanks Naomi that was very helpful!

Ellie_at_APP profile image
Ellie_at_APPPartner in reply to Naomi_at_app

wow great description of the workshop Naomi, well done :) brought it all back!

JaneHW profile image

First of all to Mia, Jess, and all those responsible for coming up with the idea of this last weekend: THANK YOU! It was a truly cathartic, healing, uplifting experience. The choice of location was inspired-- a beautiful, fecund corner of Devon guaranteed to promote a sense of well-being and to help us--the survivors of this horrible illness--to relax, open up, access suppressed and often troubling memories in an atmosphere of support, understanding and laughter. I personally had never met anyone else who had had PP before. It was a revelation to meet a dozen all at once, and I am so grateful for all the stories we exchanged (and for being allowed to talk, probably too much!). Let's keep in touch ladies!



Hello all fellow survivors of PP and fellow artists. Great to have met you all and been part of something truly special. The whole experience has really moved me and yes I got the frames and been playing with the mangle. Totally inspirational. Thank you all so very much

It was a truly wonderful special weekend. I loved meeting you all and doing the artwork too. Thanks very much to APP for organising it and to Coombe farm for a relaxing beautiful place with excellent food! Love Lucyxox

I really enjoyed the weekend too and have enjoyed looking at the photos I took. I was inspired to enrol on a sketching day workshop locally (which I probably would not have done) which I really enjoyed. Is the artwork to be posted on the website? Angela

Hi Ladies

It's a rainy day in Solihull and I've got a whole day to myself after several very busy weeks. I have just been thinking back and remembering our wonderfully precious weekend away and wishing we still had it to look forward to....

It was so precious to be with other women who understood what it is like to go to those darkest places of PP and for it to be OK to discuss our mental heath experiences openly.

When I am surrounded (most days) by people who really have no comprehension about mental health struggles, I miss you ladies even more.......

Hope you are all staying well and sending love and warmest wishes to you all.

Val xx

Ah Val lovely to read your message. It was such a special weekend! So many great memories and such amazing talks and time together. Funnily enough I was thinking of writing on here. I've just spent a week with my folks in London and they're very into their art.

I was talking about the weekend a bit with my dad and he suggested I should try doing an art journal, and my mum has leant me a great book 'The creative Licence' by Danny Gregory. The blurb on the front says "giving yourself permission to be the artist you truly are". It's a lovely book, handwritten with pictures, and he just writes simple and inspiring things about how we are all naturally creative and it's so important to express it!

Anyway I have done two pictures in my journal since then which aren't any good in a critical sense but it was v therapeutic to do it. Thought I'd share here just in case anyone else is interested in starting an art journal. I just did some pictures of something that had struck me that day

Hope you're all well


Thanks so much for posting Val and Sunnyandwild

I'm really missing that creative outlet too. Funnily enough I bought myself a small sketch book from Paperchase recently and am really looking forward to using it during my sabbatical which starts in September. I've done some painting with the girls but not much therapeutic artwork for myself since the wonderful time we had in the South Hams.

It's been all go at the kitchen table desk since we found out that we were shortlisted for the National Lottery Awards! If we win we'll send you all a wave from the telly!

Naomi x

Also wanted to let you all know that there is a beautiful montage of the artwork up on YouTube here

Hope you enjoy it x

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