Gillian and Flora BowleyI have just returned from A Space For Dreaming an intensive 6 day art event in Ireland, created by Irish artist Pauline Agnew. It was my first art retreat and it definitely won’t be my last. It was brilliant!

I attended 2 workshops – ‘Immersions in Art-Journaling’ with Orly Avineri and ‘Bloom True’ with Flora Bowley. The experiences were very different and it turned into a week of 2 halves for me.

For the art journaling a small group of us, 12 I think, sat around a table and followed prompts from Orly. We created 5 double-page spreads altogether. I loved creating in the group and was quite tearful when it was time to move on. Perfect, as the theme of the class was ‘Engagement and Detachment’.

Two things I noticed that were interesting to me were that I felt disappointed that none of the spreads felt completed and I had an expectation that I would like them.

Flora’s class was an altogether different kettle of fish! I found the experience much harder – not the so much the intuitive painting process but the vulnerability of having your paintings on the wall the whole time you were working on them. Personal judgement rose it’s ugly head and as the days went on I enjoyed it less and less as my mind filled with “not good enough” thoughts about my art. Then I starting judging myself for judging myself so harshly and added a whole ‘nother layer of “not good enough” as a human being thoughts. Oh, the tangled webs we weave!!

Fortunately, I was able to maintain my sense of humour throughout and thoroughly loved the whole experience, crappy thoughts and all.

On my return home, when asked by my son what I liked the best I answered, unhesitatingly – the people. We were a great bunch of individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds thrown together by a shared interest and we had a ball.

I love, love, love how such experiences bring you people you meet and connect with deeply whilst knowing that some will remain life-long friends and some will just be passing through. No matter which group they fell into all have enriched my life and I’m truly grateful for that.

Engage and detach . . .