June 10, 2023

By Heidi Trautmann….

Library Week was celebrated with the Topic: Art as a tool to support healing in grief situations

The presentation and discussions around a very important topic were organised by the TRNC Cultural Department in five public libraries, always presided by an artist or person involved in the arts and a psychologist. In Girne was the last event of the series on March 31 in our Public Library where the director of the Cultural Department, Shirin Zaferyıldızı Zaimağaoğlu and the psychologist Aytül Türer were presiding over the presentation.

The meeting room was full of guests interested in the event, many teachers, some of them retired and there were some touching moments to see when those met former students, today also in their advanced age.

We had many grief situations behind us during the last years starting with the pandemic and its lock-down situations, the many deaths, and just recently the earthquake in Turkey and Syria which shook us all terribly, and caused shock, trauma and often enough illness and desperation. From a quote, I read: ‘Bereavement, the period of grief and mourning after a death, may cause us to experience depression or anxiety or manifest itself as physical illness and disorganized thinking’. I myself can add that the earthquake left me with nightmares, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar levels.

It was now brought forward by the speakers that creating art can help us process our emotions…. and we heard the aspects from two sides, the arts and then from the psychologist the scientific explanations. The range of arts would be visual arts but also any other form of artistic occupation… It is my own experience that it is actually the process of leaving our grieving body and mind to concentrate on a process with our hands and create something. It is here the concentration, which takes all our senses on a walk outside ourselves. It might be painting, modelling with clay, or writing a poem which is a sort of analyzing the process of what we are going through while grieving. I can also add my personal experience: during the pandemic and the endless lockdowns I wrote a book and painted every single day, and after the earthquake experience with the house shaking under my feet, which was not so easy to cope with, but I went on meeting my art group which really helped to get out of headache and dizziness and other symptoms.

My view meets with the view of the speakers that in times of disasters that concern us all, educational and other public institutions should make an effort to offer more and intensified courses of art, be it reading together, be it painting or making music together, or just giving the opportunity to talk would help with many affected citizens.

The guests were asked to add their own experiences and or opinions and it was a lively and animated exchange of ideas that mostly came from teachers.

I think it is a step in the right direction that art education will get the importance it deserves, More classes in school, students should be taken out regularly to art exhibitions to learn from artists, a museum of art, also a theatre, should be made available, finally. It was proven again, that the arts are not only a feast for the senses but a healing tool for society.

To see more pictures please visit my Facebook page.

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