November 2020
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“Pandemic Perspectives”
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Not Redundant: Catriona, a furloughed art therapist, finds her own therapy in walking and drawing the Pentlands
Back in March I was working as the Art Facilitator at Castle Craig Hospital for Addictions near Peebles. It was a job I had been doing for three years and one I really loved. It involved working in a shabby blue hut with dramatic views over the Peeblesshire hills and farmland. Over two and half days people from all walks of life and different countries would come to the art room. Lawyers, nurses, counsellors, racehorse owners, homeless, doctors, teachers, porn stars, all who appeared to have nothing in common apart from the unifying illness of addiction. I have had some of the most inspirational and educative conversations in that hut. They would take part in art therapy exercises that people found immersive, sometimes frightening but always relaxing. People would say often; “this is better than mindfulness.” It was a feel-good job and one that I thought I would continue to do for many years. It also supported my work as an artist. I was put on furlough at the end of March and by that time there were 8 cases of covid in the hospital. I’m a lifelong asthmatic and so I was very relieved to get the phone call telling me I didn’t need to come into work. I live in a small village and immediately the pub turned itself into a shop and a community helpline was set up. We were self-sufficient and the sun was shining. Added to this the traffic stopped and very few people visited the village, it was a step back in time. I decided to use all this free time on a project that involved walking every day in the Pentland area, and then making a drawing of somewhere I had been or something I had seen. The project was about re- seeing the beauty of the place I live in. I had thought I would feel claustrophobic about just being stuck at home but there has been something immensely freeing about being in one place and exploring it in a way I haven’t before. The Pentlands are a place of rugged beauty with splendour in corrugated iron huts, reedy ground and hills that change shape as the light falls in different ways. It has been a privilege to try and capture that. At the end of June I heard I had been made redundant, it was painful but the thing that has kept me going is to keep walking and drawing in the Pentlands.
Helen Boden 01