Studio artist Erica Cleverly joined the Fish Factory Arts in October 2020 and has lived in many places across the UK. “I took to moving around after many years living in one place as a single parent,” Erica explains, “once that phase of my life was over, it felt important to move and let life lead me again and take me by surprise. I have spent the last eight years living in different towns and cities in the UK, moving as and when I felt the urge, because I could and that is a wonderful freedom to have.” Art has pervaded Erica’s life, as a child she discovered a talent for dancing, writing and acting, later discovering mark-making and painting as an adult. “For me, mark making was a big part of exploring my personal process” leading her to undertake an MA in Arts Psychotherapy.
Intuitive with a patient approach to life, travelling and art - Erica describes how her art practice as “a surrender to the medium and emotions I am exploring. My relationship with the medium is a big part of the experience for me. As I allow myself to be led by its possibilities to reveal me to myself, I get out of the way.” Erica describes how her artistic process connects her to her unconscious mind and body, leading her to appreciate and find meditative inspiration in nature and the people who surround her. “I’m inspired by being in my body and feeling alive. I have a daily qigong practice, I love the feeling of moving slowly and mindfully as a form of meditative self care. I love life, the people I meet, the courage of people living their everyday lives that are often heroic when you get speaking to people. I love nature, my relationship with it, the rhythms of the seasons and my experience of my body, my feelings and my thoughts.” By employing art as a restorative release, in what she terms “wholemaking,” art becomes an intimate form of self-care which prioritises wellbeing and facilitates “safe ways of fully expressing the whole range of emotions one feels on a day to day basis.”
Sincere and forthright, Erica describes her latest project, a creative process which shares her recovery story due to being unduly medicated as a child. “I was put on medication as a small child to suit a parental unconscious generational wound and other systemic agendas at the time. Although by the time I was a young adult, it became clear to the medical profession that I did not need to be on medication, I was in my late fifties when I was in a position to have another try at safely going through the process of withdrawal. I was never properly supported in coming off medication because that kind of support does not exist. So, after much research I went ahead and came off the medication myself. It was a seamless, easy journey with absolutely no symptoms because I was totally led by my body. So coming off medication was a responsive dialogue between my body, psyche and the slow withdrawal of the medication on my body’s terms.” For Erica, her artwork is an incredible signifier which documents her healing process within the phases of her life.
Thank you Erica for sharing your story and at the Fish Factory we look forward to seeing your artistic process unfold as you continue to inspire with deep methods of self care.