We caught up with the talented Amanda Grace for our Meet the Maker feature this week. Amanda tells us all about her work and shares some beautiful images:
My name is Amanda Grace. I’m a mixed media, visual journal artist with a passion for creative self recovery, expression and care.
I have a gorgeous studio in Rathcormac Craft Village, just outside Sligo. I’m originally from Dublin, but lived there only until I was 19, when my family up and emigrated to USA. I’ve been untethered and trying to find a place called home, ever since.
I came to Sligo via Enniskillen via Clare and so I have officially lived now, in each of the provinces of Ireland.
Sligo is home to my soul though. I fell in love, the very first day. I called my studio Pilgrim Soul, a phrase I lifted from the WB yeats poem ‘When you are old’.
Pilgrim Soul is the perfect archetype for me. I have spent my entire adult life, in a kind of wandering state, ill at ease with a sense of loss and longing. A lost self on this epic quest for wholeness and recovery. And my creative process is the vehicle, through which I make sense of and give voice to the experience.
My creative practice and teaching, is very much centred around process. I teach visual journaling and intentional practice as tools for self inquiry, recovery and care.
My training & qualification is in counselling and psychotherapy, which I practiced during the years and some after pursuing my degree. I had been through a therapeutic process myself and creativity afforded me such profound insight and self expression, that I kept gravitating towards and taking further studies in creative approaches to therapy until I came to the realisation and decision that my skills were best served, not as a therapist but as a facilitator of creative recovery.
I understand the process of recovery to be one ‘of’ and ‘from’. It is deeply rooted in personal experience and need. It could be a recovery OF your creative self or the use of creativity in your recovery of self, FROM something. More often than not, it’s both.
In my own case, that ‘something’, has been many things. I have journaled my way through depression, anxiety, miscarriage, eating distress, divorce, loss, grief, family illness, therapy.
My creative practice strongly supports me in the ongoing process of recovering a sense of self from chronic unworthiness and toxic shame. As an artist, the muse is never far away. All I have to do, is tap in to my inner experience and emotional truth.
I am utterly devoted to my practice as this ‘unfolding human, work in progress’ and a facilitator of same, for others. This is not the road of least resistance nor is it for the faint of heart. Recovery is hard work but it’s such good work and the most rewarding road, a pilgrim could walk.
I’m constantly investing in my personal and professional development. Doing so, has introduced me to the most wonderful communities. It has also introduced me to sobriety and I’m proud to say, I’m approaching my first sober-versary. I’ll be one year free from the grip of alcohol and cigarettes, the end of June.
I openly share about my recovery on my blog and social media platforms as I believe it to be profoundly important to normalise and represent what is true about the human condition and to be honest about the resilience, persistence and support required to achieve and maintain, good mental health. I’m happy and willing, to recover ‘out loud’ and to be a source of encouragement and hope, for anyone who may be suffering to any degree, in silence.
Shared experience, matters.
As well as doing so from my studio, I travel around Ireland, teaching my one day RAW visual journal workshop. I teach a process whereby the focus is on showing up for yourself and your practice of self inquiry, reflection, expression and the very important element of caring for and holding space for yourself, in the process.
Recovery work is a sacred work and a process through which, miracles can happen.
I teach online also and will soon be launching my first, 6 week intensive course, based on my RAW workshop. Here in Sligo, I host weekly journal sessions in my studio, every Wednesday. These are really great mornings. The sessions are casual, non instructional and non directive.
It is simply a gathering of friendly and supportive creative souls, committed to intentional, regular practice. We bring our journals, supplies and selves and journal while we chat inspiration and resources.
Every week, I suggest some poetry or a quote or pull a card from the many oracle decks I have in studio, to serve as inspiration for your journaling session, should you require. I also have a diverse selection of mixed media journaling books and magazines to browse, plus lots of other resources and prompts in studio, to inspire you. There is a selection of tea and coffee, chill out area and a cafe on site if you fancy lunch after.
Sessions are a very affordable €10 per person. If you’re curious and don’t have supplies yet, come along anyway and I have a selection of basic supplies you can play around with for an extra contribution of €5.
The best way to get started in journaling, is to take my workshop. See my website for information of upcoming dates.
Thank you so much to Amanda for her lovely article. You can find out more about Amanda and book a workshop over on her website.