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  • Writer's picturematilde tomat

ariadne is lost

Ariadne at Sea

some ethical considerations...

I was reading in what is a designer* a good description of potentially a difference between an artist and a designer: a designer is someone concerned with “the other”, who works “for the people” while an artist is primarily concerned with the Self, with their own problems and outlook on life.

This made me wonder about the stark dichotomy within me about who I am and what type of art I am creating. There is this side of me which makes and creates and believes in herself, and then there is this very vulnerable me which is frightened of not being understood, accepted, acknowledged.

But there is more:

There you have the vulnerable, invisible, fragile artist who tries to make it and shows up and is petrified of being seen for how fragile she is in her expressing her world; while on the other side she is a therapist who is supposed / expected to be sorted and strong and grounded “for the others”.

Now, we all know that therapists are not Gods and we all have our problems and issues and quirkiness and strong desires of self-actualisations, and a discreet level of need of external validation (still!): I am a good therapist, my clients are happy and they come back, and bla bla bla...

But if you are a fragile client, who is in need of support and compassion, and understanding: how fair is it that your therapist bares herself fully in front of other people, to be then judged? Am I doing my clients a disservice? So, even the publishing of Rebeltherapy, which contains some candid reports of my past and of my family could be seen ad oversharing and potentially damaging the fragility of a client. I remember reading that associations such as the BACP would consider dismembering an associate if same is arrested during a protest march like Extinction Rebellion or against Brexit. I would like you to stop and think now: you are penalised for expressing your mind. But, at the same time, I can see their point: being arrested can be seen as damaging the association reputation and hence: off you go. How would vulnerable clients perceive their therapist after the said therapist has been arrested? Where is the integrity of a therapist: faithful to the Self or faithful to their clients? Or, can these two positions meet somewhere in the middle? Can you be congruent?

Being a therapist comes natural to me and I have learned to be congruent and to have clear boundaries in place when it comes to my practice. A practice which is eclectic in nature, broad and challenging and existential. I always say to my clients: I don’t do lifetime in here, I go past that. We talk lifetime, death and what comes next, in here. If you come to me for a divorce, we address endings, death and fear of the unknown.

So, where are my congruency and integrity when putting pen to paper? Can I find a middle ground in my creative practice? Today discussing artists I like, I have been made aware of how the names I listed fall into 2 different categories: the ones who show themselves, and the ones who don’t. The ones who are more about themselves, and the ones who are more about the others. The Tracy Emin and the Mark Rothko. And this divide is showing in what I create. This divide is showing in me and is exhausting.

Can I connect the dots? I feel I am holding two halves of a chocolate easter bunny that I am trying to match and glue together. Or, at least, can I find a place within me where, regardless of what I create, I am happy with what I make? Culturally, if I go back to my own country and say that I am an artist people laugh at me, and they would laugh at you, too. They would suggest you get yourself a nice and simple job and stop dreaming. But, if you said you were a photographer, a painter, an illustrator, well that Is a profession!

Me? I am doodling, drawing, trying some painting, taking pictures, writing, sculpting, making stuff, conceptualising, designing, inventing, finding. That sits badly with me because I feel I am everything and nothing at the same time, dispersive and not constructive. And in all of this, I get lost, I don’t know what I am doing, what I am supposed to be doing, how I should do it, nor who I am anymore.

I feel I lost a thread, the Minotaur is hiding, Theseus holds one end of the string (or is it the Minotaur instead?!) and I have lost Ariadne’s (the Roman Libera / Free!) other end. Or, maybe, I am Ariadne and I am on a boat, in the middle of the ocean and I have no fucking idea of where I have to go.

At the same time, I know that I am on the right path of “getting lost”, I know this is a transition, I know I’ll be ok. But I also know that I need to make and create: making, creating, designing, conceptualising, brainstorming ideas is who I am. For now, I feel I am running around something that’s unknown and I feel it is missing. I don’t have the right question, for the satisfactory answer to be revealed to me. I know that there is something missing.

Something is off. I don't have the courage to speak up and I don’t know what to do.

onwards and upwards


*** I have been trying to locate that picture and its rightful painter: some give it as painted by George Frederic Watts RA, others (but it looks a different hand to me) by John Lavery RA. Still, she is Ariadne.

© mtomat 2019 - written on 21.11.19 - no reproduction without permission.

*Potter, N., (2012). What is a designer : things, places, messages [4th Ed.] London: Hyphen Press.

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Zara Chaney
Zara Chaney
Sep 12, 2021

This iis great


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