Monday, August 5, 2013


Nkimadams The Vitruvian Man

I didn’t receive any funding from the arts council, althought they said they proposal met all the criteria there was just too much competition for funds.
I asked them to send me a list of the projects that were funded and a list of the secondary criteria they use after all the proposals have met the first.

Nikadams Green Ball Express
I must have asked for too much money, and they don't know me (know track record). 

I have to make the project happen, I several great groups of people who are expecting me to give a series of workshops. I have to explain what the new circumstances are (everyone knew I might not get funding) and adjust the scope of the project and get people who can to chip into the materials and other in kind offerings to make it happen.

I’m not sure if 22 years in the US has given me my think big attitude or if I’ve always had it, People warned me, it was a big project to take on, and now it’s a big project with no funding!
Ha Ha ….
Nkimadams Unwavering Balance

Lets see what my thinking big has got me.
·      A lot more work but also a lot more experiences working in this type of action research.
·      Knowledge of the subtle complexities of the Tottenham community
·      Great groups of enthusiastic organisations and community members who see the important of art activities.
·      New and important connections for future work in London and in this community in particular.
·      A new focused workshop plan on ‘Personal geographies’ for my future practice in community work.

As I have been working with each group I have had to be flexible to make sure the project meets any specific goals of focus they have.  Now that I don’t have to follow the agenda set forth in my original proposal, and I have a more clear sense of what each of these groups wants, AND I have had time to reflect more on the core of the project -community art-, I have been able to focus in on the main themes. Self-portraits and Mapping.

Nikadams    Buddah Mind
Over time I’ve learned the value of being flexible, to accommodate the needs of the participants. This is a core skill for my practice.

The bottom line is I just want to see as many people making art in their communities as possible.
The trick is to be flexible enough to offer those involved a ‘bespoke’ spoonful of sugar to help make the medicine go down. 


Nkimadams Dreaming of a White Christmas

I took a great workshop in procrastination with a group of fellow students. It was interesting to see how we all have our own unique forms of procrastination. We all had different but clever tactics to make sure we either don't get our work completed on time in an organised fashion and to the best of our ability.

Fear of Failure
Not being good enough
Not perfect enough
Fear of Success
The core of these issues, we were told by our calm, and compassionate analyst, stem from issues of self esteem.

Procrastination in my case comes from having too much work to do and not being able to focus in, chaos playing havoc. I think the route cause for me is a lack of balance and a capacity to focus.
When I focus in I realise it doesn't take as much time to organise as I had feared, and a little of everything goes a long way.

Planning and visualising are also important to get things organised and relieve the internal chaos.

Nkimadams Dream of Sin

In my special project process, I'm really enjoying the organic nature, being able to be flexible, testing and trying things and getting realistic about what is actually possible (in order to meet an essay deadline).

I did not receive funding from the Arts Council, though they said I met all the criteria... so I guess I'm just an unknown, and may have asked for too much. Now I have to be twice as  resourceful, and pay attention to how I am spending my time more wisely. Procrastination just isn't an option at this point.

NKimadams  Star of Bethlehem

I am drawn to this image as a symbol of my own procrastination, paralysed (this person is actually a dead soldier) I am unable to reach the potential star above. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013


The womb of creativity aka my office

It seems this is a constant struggle for me- a work in progress.

It takes a lot of time and energy and it constantly shifts and changes.

It drives me mad to be honest because it's so necessary in the world of getting things done, but its not my nature to be organised. (see previous post in which i refer to chaos as a necessary ingredient for creativity).
New ideas are added, alternative plans must be created around conflicts in other peoples schedules or your own depending on how well you can manage your own life. My diary is not a neat digital plan of the future as my husbands is, it's a hand written messy little book that is hard to make any sense of down the line when I'm in a hurry to get out the door for a meeting.

Back to the drawing board I go for an alternative method of how to be organised.
Its a very personal thing, its a daily practice.

Celestial Yoga Nkimadams

Reflecting on it is useful, though it takes time, its time well spent if the end result is a more clear plan.
Rather than writing for an assessment now that I have had time to let the information and process sink in I see how important and useful reflective practice can be for me.

Now I 'get it' I can start to come up with some useful guidelines for moving forward with my special project in Tottenham.

As the project dates are mounting I realise its time for a re organise  my office, a new calendar of events and a timeline and a new contact list. All of course hand made in bright colourful day glow felt pen designs.

Next I need to create an evaluation, review my goals and expected outcomes for the project.
A contract for work or scope of work would also probably be useful for smooth running of the workshops. Onward with more pulling rabbits out of hats......

The Production Line Nkimadams

Re reading my essay notes has been useful. This morning I came across this one, from Thompson's book on Reflective practice (see previous reference)
She suggests making an objective tree and then asking a series of why questions regarding challenges that might arise from the process.

Also a little bit on Risk and Uncertainty, the opposite of organisation and planning?

Throughout the year there has been an emphasis on how its necessary to make mistakes for the participants in the creative process, so shouldn't that also be the case for the facilitator?

YES YES, plan as much as you can for the best possible outcome, but being flexible enough to make a mistake and own it can be as valuable for the facilitator as to the participants.

After all, life is a creative process.

Fire Bird Nkimadams

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Self Care

Alex Grey wounded healer

Self care has been on my mind of late, especially as I have an elderly and sick parent. If I don't pay attention I am genetically predisposed to suffer the same fate as my parents as far as my health is concerned.

I realise if I am not in good shape all round emotionally as well as physically that nobody else is around to do my job. So I take good care not to push the boundaries of what one person can possibly do in a lifetime.

Last winter, as it seemed everyone around me was sniffing and coughing, I made it a point not to get sick because I didn't want to miss anything. It's actually quite simple not to catch a cold. Eat good food, sleep enough, take vitamin C, echinacea and goldenseal and wash your hands a lot.

I recently took a creative workshop at the Kid's Company space and the conversation came around to a few members of the group who really wanted to help other people. As the weekend progressed it seemed to me, they would do better to help themselves first, before trying to help anyone else.

The concept of the wounded healer came up for me as a point of reflection some time ago after working in Mozambique. A friend who was also working there asked me why I wanted to 'help' and what I thought my 'help' would achieve, was it for me- or for the people I was working with?
Another friend mentioned the wounded healer in reference to a bad experience she had with one of her teachers on a healing course.

I found it interesting and started to wonder if I too was a wounded 'healer', and the positive and negative affects a wounded healer can have on the people they work with.

Carl Jung explored the archetype of the wounded healer in the context of the psychoanalyst.

In Greek mythology, the centaur ‘Chiron’ was known as the ‘Wounded Healer’. Chiron was poisoned by one of Hercules' arrows, but because he was not able to heal himself he suffered thereafter from an incurable wound.
Jung, developed this phenomenon by stating that "a good half of every treatment that probes at all deeply consists in the doctor's examining is his own hurt that gives a measure of his power to heal. This, and nothing else, is the meaning of the Greek myth of the wounded physician."
Latterly, the term ‘Wounded Healer’ has expanded from Jung’s original concept to cover the study of any professional healer who has been wounded, including counsellors, psychotherapists, doctors and nurses.

For more depth into the concept of the wounded healer read the interesting research of psychoanalyst Alison Barr.

or alternatively,
more on the myth of Chiron

So as a point of reflection why do I want to help?

First of all I guess I would not use the word 'help'.

My work is about sharing my personal experiences and perspective through the creative process. I am offering a creative experience and an alternative method of interacting in the world to the people I work with. They can choose to explore- and if they think they can 'help' themselves they can go on to make changes necessary to incorporate a practice of creativity in their lives.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Collective Creative Writings

Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo painted witty, even surreal portraits composed of fruits, vegetables, fish and trees

Read more: 

Here are the collective poems created in the Memorable Meals project.

Cream tea jammy family
In my kitchen I smell porridge
I’m warm and happy
Yellow and cream passion mango
I’m warm and happy
Ripeness fruity
Cream tea jammy family

Sweet sticky fingers
I remember the taste of the sweetness of porridge
Sweet sticky fingers
Melting icecream on the beach
Sweet sticky fingers
Feeling loved, happy and content

Mumbled conversation echoed over the beach shore.
Children laughing and scoffing seasalt and icecream running down our cheeds. Hmmm sweet sticky fingers.
Sea beats against their skin.
Sunglasses on sunbathing.
Sand castle bucket and spade. Washing
Over the shore

My mum had just cooked dinner for my family which mostly weren’t related to me by blood but more of a collection of random people who love each other.
I can feel the texture of smooth mashed potato with salty butter and can hear Blondie singing Sunday Girl on the radio.
The sun is shining yellow through the window and the chitter chatter and the colour from the sun reminds me of people talking at the beach. I close my eyes and I can almost hear the sound of the sea.

Walk up dune river falls
Water flowing down my skins
Reggae and afro beat playing
Smell of fried fish
And bread fruits roasting.
Out of tune choir practice in the background.

Mum and me laughing we are happy and free. We are in Jamaica where there is warmth from sunlight. Orange blue green yellow and brown, onions frying. The seaside and fresh air sea salty air. At the river family talking slurping dribbling.

In the sweet bright California light
The breadcrumbs run through my fingers.
I hear silence, then my spoon around  the dish.
Linda McCartney’s sausages remind me of my mum,
My family, my ktchen, Walsham road.
I am anxious, salty, happy and herby.

More from Memorable Meals Intensive Week

Our original plan was to teach a two hour session, but we shifted that idea when we realised two hours would not be enough. We came back the next week to offer a second two hour session, and that was still not enough time to sit share food and talk about the experiences.

There was so much squashed into our planned two hour session we didn't think about how much time it would take a group not used to the art making process to 'digest' the activity and really enjoy the making, sharing and talking.

The fact that we were so focused on fulfilling our own agenda, we didn't plan for the time to let the participants explore deeply.

Here are some of the photos taken at the workshop session two, our Fabulous Feast, a group mural painting about memories of food.

I observed not many of the women went anywhere near the paints in the session. I take it for granted that visual art, especially painting, is as frightening for people as music workshop skills was for me, to be with a group of trained musicians and not know how to play a musical instrument is intimidating.

Art becomes this soul bearing activity, for some people it's revealing qualities can make them feel very vulnerable. One of the group members stood by looking really interested in the activities, I asked if she wanted to paint. She said quickly, 'no way, I can't paint'. She was glad we had brought collage materials and did take part in collaging onto our table cloth group mural.

She said that she had unpleasant memories from school in art classes, in which she felt her work was never good enough compared to everyone else. She could never make it perfect. She chose to cook food instead. She was a professional chef.

We asked the group to invite women (by either drawing them or something that represented them). One person decided she wanted to invite the queen along to tea. Some people got really focused in immediately on one piece of artwork, others added to what was on the table, another member decided that she would rather  eat the queen and added that to the collage.

We played music as we worked on art making, and that helped people to relax and get into a focused mood. As we sat together to share food we had brought all sorts of conversations arose.
The fact that we decided to share food was such a great idea. Luckily there were some great cooks among us. One woman had cooked food for hundreds of people at Greenham Common for three months in the 70's.

After all this talk of food, and anxiety about whether we should talk about the issues people may have had about food, actually working with the women and talking about what came up for them was actually not difficult or challenging for them at all.

One woman said her immediate reaction to the idea of the project were memories of drunken Christmas parties, where food would be on the walls rather than on the plates, and that she didn't like cooking. 
This exercise had helped her to think more deeply about her relationship to food, both positive and negative. She felt the exercise helped her to turn the memories into something she could laugh about with the group, she had transformed them through a creative process.

The food was delicious, and it went well with the mural. I loved listening to the candid responses of the women, who were unhindered by saying the politically correct thing. One woman was surprised to hear other people didn't like food or cooking because she had grown up with only positive experience around food. She loved to cook for people and couldn't imagine why anyone would have issues with it. She said she learned a lot in this process, from listening to other women sharing their experiences with food.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I do not own an iPhone so any mapping is done at home with an A-Z of London and my notebook.

Over the course of the past few months doing research in Tottenham, I've generated many had drawn maps to find my way to meetings.

As part of my project will involve exploring memory maps as well as regular maps I though it would be fun to share them. I like the hand drawn simplicity of these functional little information bytes.
I'm quite familiar with the lay of the land there now, not just geographically but also politically, who is doing what where etc.

I particularly like this one with the Moselle river in blue

I plan on putting all the maps together and make a map of artistic activities in Tottenham by whom, when and where.

I enjoy making maps because they are visual symbols of space and place.

Beltane time to cast a spell.... very important to remember!

I like looking at maps as a mystery to be solved, navigation tools, labyrinths, discovery

Yes this one is from a  meeting I had today with Art4Space who I will be collaborating with this summer at Bruce Grove

Tenacity and Patience

The Name of the Rose Nkimadams

I might be repeating myself, but that is a luxury I can indulge.

I wake up in the morning with a head full of ideas, people to call, catch up, maintain relationships, check in and reminders.

I am fortunate to have a supportive husband who believes my work. The plan is to return the favour so he can finish his book (which we are both sure will see our fortunes made).

So everyday I keep sending the messages to let people know I'm still here, I still care and I"m still committed to this process.

The universe with her unique sense of humor has made me an impatient Virtue.

Working on participation and community process takes great patience.
Benefits come from Patience, and I think its born from


Hail the Wisdom of the Goddess    nkimadams

keep on keeping on.

Pleasant Surprises

My Tenacity has paid off in several situations-

my impatience has caused a few people to feel threatened and go into retreat, or of course they just thought I was a brassy yank they didn't want anything to do with.
As I said before patience is a work in progress. Ironic as my name is Virtue.

Flying Tigers           nkimadams

I get frustrated when confronted by a lack of competence or 'it's not my problem' attitude, or simply - I don't care, from people in a position of power, or that could really affect change. I often wonder how they got their jobs, and who hired them???

Society and  the humans that make it up, are full of a complex set of power plays.
Paolo Friere

and Michel Foucault come to mind, because I've been reading their work and am intrigued by their theories of human relationships with regards to power.

Paulo Friere

Friere's theory is that as soon as the oppressed steps into a role of power they then have the potential to become the oppressor. Foucault theorised that power is a network- passed on from person to person, each one passing along a set of behaviours that can also keep them oppressed.

Michel Foucault

However, on the bright side, the enthusiasm of other people and willingness to trust has proven that most people are trying really hard to do their jobs in challenging circumstances. People have offered space materials, and time to support the Phoenix Project, letters of support have come from the council and Tottenham Hotspur foundation, as well as Project 2020 and Haringey 6th form centre. 

I just have to trust that whatever happens it will be good and be open to receiving more pleasant surprises.

Prayer    Nkimadams