“Working creatively with grief, surprising moments can happen.
In the absent space a person leaves they can feel present.”
At St Mary’s Hall in the heart of Buncrana, Co Donegal, visual artists Rebecca Strain and Martha McCullogh of ArtLink spent 12 weeks with a small group exploring grief and loss through a variety of slow, paper-based creative processes. Conversely, an integral part of these sessions was in not forcing direct discussions around grief and loss.
As Martha said:
“I think it’s important to let it kind of rise up naturally. Most often this will happen while sitting around a table and being involved in making something with your hands, and then the words do come out.”
This ‘making’ included origami, collage / montage, paper weaving, cameraless photography (lumen prints), handmade books and boxes, and memory making. All were aimed at providing a tangible outlet for thoughts and emotions that cannot easily be expressed in words.
“With material things, like actually making and being engrossed in a process of making, allows you to be in this area of flow,”
Rebecca told us.
“Before you realise it, an hour has passed where you’ve just been quietly and mindfully with yourself. I think that’s the way it can help.”
In March 2022, Rebecca joined a heady mix of artists and thinkers at Creative Brain Week in Trinity College Dublin exploring the role of creativity and brain health. During her presentation, she showed the audience how to wrap rocks and explained why it can help with grief.
They also established a popular Facebook group called the Make ‘n Mend Club. It’s open for anyone experiencing loss who would like to find creative ways to process the accompanying complexity of emotions.