Boundaries: The Experience- Art and Phenomenological!

Last night I had disturbed dreams, flashes of colour, an intense vision of looking through back lit trees in a dark night – a vivid green, lime and yellow flashing across my eyes.  There was some feeling of connecting the pieces we had made earlier at the hall in L’Utopia with this ephemeral, translucent colour.

And so another Wednesday night spent restlessly, resulting in getting up and reading till 5.30am in an attempt to draw myself back into sleep.

Was I over tired, dehydrated or moved in some inexplicable deep way by the creations we made last night?

Last night -the 8 met!

We sat in a circle and shared any concerns and the process that had occurred over the previous week.   I had supplied everyone with a veritable workbook in order to uncover personal boundary issues and then correlate to a substance/ materials that could express the tension, or unsubstantial nature of the boundary to be explored.

We were all ripe with anticipation.

D, asked if she might do a performance to express her thoughts around her boundaries first.

Her intelligent, simple yet movingly powerful exploration of our ‘veils’/ boundaries opened us up, creating a space of vulnerability and strength.

She commented afterwards that although she had practised the performance all day alone, until she had stood in front of us, the witnesses, she had not ‘felt it’.  But now, visibly moved and opened, tears gently marking her face, with a clean and ecstatic look, that told us everything about the process and how the action had caused a shift inside.

T also moved along a physical process of creating a boundary, standing contained by chairs and saran wrap, holding a heavy weight, then pushing out and through, to physically and emotionally experience the change from one state to another.  With the detritus she created a cocoon.  Something waiting.  A shift from a hungry past to something beautiful.

B, S, H  and G all created smaller effigies to their boundaries, incorporating personal mythology, to create a narrative for each of the represented boundaries – ‘unhealthy’ and ‘healthy’.  B and G recognised an almost dancing relationship between the polar opposite boundaries, neither to be demonised or seen with aggrandizement.   H used measurements of the body incorporated in his piece, contrasting with more mathematical measurements, causing an aesthetic balance to the work.

I started with the unhealthy boundary even although I had been obsessing over the creation of my ‘healthy’ boundary and how it would feel to stand in its center and claim a natural flow of holy yet silent authority.

Maybe it was my anxiety to move into this imagined ‘better’ space that caused so much discomfort for me….or maybe it was just a really ‘unhealthy’ boundary.  The issue I was dealing with, I had previously imagined as a complete lack of boundary, a kind of help yourself free for all, that I had thought I would express as something small and inconsequential.  Apparently not.  I was drawn to the small bar area.  I didn’t like the immediately oppressive cramped feeling.  Trusting my instinct over my intellectual thought around what my boundary ‘should’ look like…I spontaneously responded to the space to enhance my sense of discomfort and pulled out wires and tangled strings, attaching them in anyway I could.  Leaving clusters of knotted threads and string connecting to taught wires that started to inhibit the space.  I tied elastic that pulled awkwardly.  On the middle of the tile floor was a small drain.  It created almost a mandala but seemed to be the center point in this scenario from which I imagined I lost all my energy.  As I pulled and tied, it occurred to me that this boundary was the opposite of what I had thought.  In actuality it was a well constructed, if toxic inhibiting space, that I had produced through years of being ‘good’ and ‘kind’ and fabricating arguments to explain to myself why i was consistently putting other peoples well being before my own, either with thoughts or actions.  The construction of which resulted in a suffocating space that restricted any spontaneous genuine movement or genuine creative motion.

I noted in my journal

this boundary is called

I don’t exist: to make everybody happy

It took years to construct such a convoluted filigree of self negation and denial..”

I was horrified and the realisation alone, demanded that I get myself out of this destructive pattern/ environment.  Truthfully, I was scared being in that space, afraid that I might get sucked into that perpetual pattern.  It would have been preferable and more heroic to have stayed and allowed the intensity of feelings to push me to a dramatic exist but feeling slightly overwhelmed and panic stricken I slunk out of the space and without a backwards glance started contemplating my new boundary.

After the claustrophobic confines of my ‘unhealthy’ boundary, I wanted something grand, some statement of vastness.  After my CIM  note taking, I knew it had to be a space that gleamed of holiness, rather than a brutal stop, such that I would inspire ppl to pause before taking advantage, and maybe ideally I would create a space to see my actions and their incumbent consequences….beforehand, to make a better choice.

I had daydreamed of little intricate and complicated pathways, shimmering.  A delicate construct that would shine iridescent with a sanctity that reflected my essence and connection with spirit/love.

What I did create was not as ‘constructed’ as I had intended, chalk marks on the ground provided a reference of form.  However I now have an indelible image of the speckled shimmering of an extending circle.  A cirlce that felt light, joyous, yet safe and strangely powerful.  A boundary that allowed me to be me, yet did not compromise my safety.

 The photos show straggling pieces of shiny paper, wilting flowers, fake flowers, a small smear of glitter, here andthere  ontop of awkward chalk lines…but the beauty of this work is beyond any attempt at completed is about the experience of an internal pattern/continuation of events, experienced and changed externally.  The physical act translates into a deeper inner knowing.  It is a relationship poetic and elegant andcannot be judged in any formal sense. The experience was in a shared space, we witnessed each other as we moved in and out and through these inner and outer spaces.  We danced in the realm of the physical and the liminal  to leave with the hope of  shift in our unconscious – a movement so deep that it cannot truly be spoken other than the clarity of a  face smiling, cleansed with tears….and the glint of open boundaries – breached, shining in our eyes.

and a new thought

“I exist”

without the weight of justification.

I went today back to the space to clean up.  I am bemused to sweep up the evidence of my boundary into a box of glitter and shiny paper!

Enormous thanks to the other brave souls who shared this time and process alongside me.

Looking forward to the next session…..



  1. I typed into google images, `Phenomenological art`, as this is what my art has been described as, which although I am in slight agreement I am not bound by this description! I just wanted to say how I like your art and its good to see people sharing similar areas.
    Keep up the wonderful work and enjoy it. I do.
    Blessings and peace to you and all beings.

  2. Perhaps you could have a look at my website and let me know what you think. As an artist with an acquired brain injury my poor organizational skills hamper me somewhat. I would love to get into to doing some performance art in collaboration with
    others. Keep up your brilliant work and keep pushing the envelope. NAY, pull the envelope, stretch and distress it.
    Blessings from Luton.

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