During the time I was working as a professional artist, in I realised that there were no sacred or supportive spaces for neurodivergent artists, especially women to make art. Studios were often far too expensive or inaccessible and autistic women artists were looked upon as being unprofessional because they did not fit the autistic tick boxes required by the arts organisations who worked with “autistic artists.” We were deemed too “high functioning” and yet, we were excluded from mainstream spaces for reasons they could not explain, we were just unwelcome.
There were no autistic led artistic spaces and yet I knew so many autistic women artists who were at home, isolated, and also being prolific artists, but nobody knew about them because they did not have an audience or place to come to to make and share art. I wanted to change this. In 2019, I went about developing this model so that neurodivergent women and non binary artists could spend 2 hours together making art or writing (thus stimming together through attending to practice) and then share their work. During this time, they could stim through practice. I noticed that when autistic/neurodivergent artists came together to stim and make art together, or write together that this is when the collective unconscious (Jung, 1936) became the most powerful, and further, a silent collaboration was happening to a point where we all became this one strong voice. It never felt like people were copying each other, but instead, they were working together in a way that felt autonomous and this was because the environment was accessible and was offering them the freedom to make and create in ways of their choosing, and our stimming was reaching a crescendo of flow. Working with other autistic artists was recharging for our practice.
Just like when I mentored autistic clients, there was a sense of being recharged and excited for the work. This in turn supported my own arts practice and I began to become even more prolific. I would later also offer online workshops called “Magical Journeys” where I would take a group of women/non binary artists on journeys through storytelling and visualisations with composed soundscapes. These visceral journeys gave neurodivergent artists the possibility of journeying - we spend so much time in our heads that journeying gives the possibility of creating environments and then reacting or responding to them through the art materials. The very environment I created in order to make making art in the space accessible was a sense of being held, but also being able to have the camera on or off, being able to offer feedback to people in the circle through the chat, through writing to the support worker in the room or verbally.
Often the feedback we asked for was not of a good/bad kind of answer, but instead of a “what images did you see? What feelings came up? What did you create in response to what they created?” and this added to an everlasting flow of discussion and encouragement between everyone in the group, so that we were each holding one another in a way that was expressive, gentle and compassionate. Soon clients wanted to use these soundscapes for their own personal journeys, they used them to listen to help them to sleep, to go back to an environment where they felt a sense of belonging and they sometimes shared these journeys with their neurodivergent children and commented on how a deep sense of calm would wave over them giving them either the best night’s sleep, or an opportunity for them to connect in ways that they had struggled with for a while.