A Pink Bunny, Creativity and Brain Injury

Pink clay sculptured rabbit.This image inspired me to write about creativity.

It reminded me that creativity is possible for each of us, whatever our talents, whatever our limitations.
Sometimes it just takes someone to encourage and support us to give it a go.

This all came about a while back, when visiting family. I spotted this wonderful ceramic sculpture displayed on a bookshelf. Now each time I visit, I seek it out, it captures me. I see it is a kind of stylized standing rabbit, pink, big-eyed and delightful.

You can see it here for yourself.

When I asked about the artist I discovered it was a 6 year old girl. My further surprise was to learn this young artist lives with a significant and serious physical disability, and vision impairment.

 

Creative Endeavours

The wonderful sculpture was created because family and supporters assisted and encouraged a young girl, with a severe disability, to be creative.

I thought of other people I knew who had pursued their creative talents. I wanted to further explore and encourage creativity, particularly for people with brain injury.

As I thought more about creativity, a number of different creative endeavours came to mind. Just off the top of my head (and forgive me for all those I leave out here!) let me give you a few introductions, or should I say inspirations for this topic.

In not too distant future I hope to interview and bring more about each of these creative people to Changed Lives New Journeys. The trick will be to catch each of them as they are not only creative, but very busy. Stay tuned!

Creative Minds

Cover image Learning to Say Maleesh by Rebecca Viney

Rebecca Viney (Melbourne Australia).

Rebecca has explored a range of creative pursuits including photography, art and writing. Recently Rebecca wrote, illustrated and published a book “Learning to Say Maleesh”. This is a different kind of memoir, a creative memoir

“Learning to Say Maleesh” is a wonderful example of a book that is about Bec’s experience with brain injury yet is creative, original, with messages that are universal. Creatively combining her artwork, love of music, witticisms and philosophy on life.

 

Akash Temple

Akash is a power house of creativity and drive. He writes and produces music both for himself and encourages and supports others. He has produced both video and music albums for himself and others. Akash also established electronic music workshops for adults with an Acquired Brain Injury or Asperger’s Syndrome.

Akash describes his current role; “I work in Arts Access Victoria these days as the residential geek and film/media nerd.” He has also been the editor for a digital eMag called ‘Living Art!’ for the past few years.

A wonderful example of Akash’s creative work is the video below. The essence of this video also expands on the idea of creativity in a beautiful way and I encourage you to take a look.

Voulas Garden


I met Akash while working on a book about Friendship and Brain Injury. I remember his amazing energy and the buzz of the work he was doing to support people with brain injury to express themselves through music. You can see a bit about Electronic Tribes in the link above.

 

Cheryl Green (Portland, Oregon, USA)

I met Cheryl through an earlier blogpost and we have stayed in touch. Cheryl, a Disability activist and educator with traumatic brain injury (TBI), who is doing many different things including filmmaking, blogging, podcasting (on her own and for the Brain Injury Radio Network) and comedy. You can visit Cheryl and see more of her creative work at her website Who Am I To Stop It and StoryMinders

Cheryl’s  radio show on Art, Creativity and Brain Injury is a perfect compliment to this article. Discussion on ways to get creative, how art and creativity can benefit on many levels, such as being a bridge to express ideas when words don’t seem to and so much more.

Online Art Radio with Brain Injury Radio on BlogTalkRadio

Currently Cheryl is collaborating with independent filmmaker Cynthia Lopez to create the feature-length documentary film “Who Am I To Stop It.” The film, currently in production, observes the lives of three Pacific Northwest artists with TBI. Through explorations of isolation, impairments, and the use of art to connect to community, this film seeks to raise not only awareness but also acceptance and appreciation of the brain injury community and the creative, dynamic contributions of its members.

The film is being made from inside the brain injury community, and it shows people on their life’s journey, not just telling about how they got injured and what they do to recover. You can view short scenes HERE

 

Larissa MacFarlane

Before I talk about Larissa I encourage you to visit her website – click on the image below and enjoy the wonderful exploration of creativity, art and prints you will find there:

Larissa has a strong interest in where neuroscience and creativity intersect. She recently had an exhibition of her artistic work in Melbourne. “Journeyscapes” was a collection of her etchings, artwork, linocuts and monoprints.

Larissa had been a musician then explored more visual creative pursuits. Larissa explains “… with my ABI my creative interests were transferred from the aural to the visual. I was a musician, but now i can’t hear music as much more than noise, but I am a visual artist now, where before i had gone to great lengths to avoid all art!!”

That wonderful piece is from Larissa’s film The Point of the Handstand, a film is about using handstands to create wellbeing in life.

For the recent 10th anniversary of Larissa’s daily hand standing project Larissa describes doing “a handstand wander through the city”, which she has documented and made some new work – stay tuned for more!

 

 

B & W portrait of Sarah Mainwaring

Image of Sarah Mainwaring from BacktoBack theatre

Sarah Mainwaring

Sarah is an actor. I have known Sarah for many years and had opportunity to see a number of her works. Over recent years she has toured the world sharing her craft. She studied and received a Bachelor of Arts. Sarah has written and performed her own pieces and has also performed with a small theatre group.

Avant garde is a term that comes to mind with Sarah’s work. Often new and experimental, Sarah challenges herself, and you the audience.

Years ago I had a lot of fun working with Sarah on a piece about Sexuality, also challenging for all of us involved. Sarah’s creative work was part of a conference on sexuality. So compelling was her performance that the audience fell completely silent and still, during her performance and for some time afterwards.

 

 

Creativity and Brain Injury: Lessons Learned

As I said earlier, my goal is to interview each of these artists in the future, along with more on how creativity can be explored and encouraged.

In the meantime here are just a few of the lessons I have learned from each of these creative people:

  • Brain Injury does not mean the end of creativity. Sometimes it can be the start. And sometimes it might need encouragement and support to explore new ways to express creativity.
  • Each of us can explore and be creativity in our own way.
  • The possibilities can be wonderful if we allow our creativity to run free.
  • You might say (I often do myself) “I can’t draw, paint, sing, dance, act, write”. We can each be creative in some way.
  • For people who are isolated, or marginalised from their community creativity can be life changing. The potential to bring meaning, friendships and new interest.
  • You can be creative at any age – young, old and anywhere in the middle.

I would welcome any stories of creativity you would like to share. You can record them in the Comments below or email me HERE

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5 Responses to A Pink Bunny, Creativity and Brain Injury

  1. larissa July 12, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    great post, with lots of good links…

    especially good to learn about Cheryl Green…she is a powerhouse!

    wondering if there is a link to see Rebecca Viney’s book

    love Akash’s work and sarah’s too

    thanks

    • Melanie Atkins July 12, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

      Larissa thankyou so much for being part of this talented group. You are all powerhouses! Unfortunately Rebecca’s book is only available in hard copy and is self published. Anyone interested can contact by email: maleeshbec@gmail.com

  2. Melanie Atkins January 29, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

    Further links to sites and articles covering a wide range of creative pursuits can be found

    http://storyminders.com/recommended-disability-films-and-performance/

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