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I read a lot amongst neurodivergent artists this concept of "rewilding" the artist. But what if the artist is already wild? Must there be a re-?


A rewind

A repeat

A return

A revisit 


Instead, this PhD is a research and development pilgrimage to explore and reflect on the sensory experience that is stimming within wild environment and how these wild environments can form a nurturing practice to balance and manifest peace through stimming as art practice.


One of the main barriers due to being autistic is being able to find a sustainable way to work due to the levels of anxiety, mental and physical exhaustion that we as autistic artists can experience from living in a neurotypical world.


Being autistic in a neurotypical world is not always sustainable and this is why the suicide rate is so high within our community, as well as also the employment rate so low. 


The world can appear alien where everyone talks a different language and they expect me to speak that language so when I don't misunderstandings and misinterpretations can occur. 



Conflict occurs.


My words repeated back to me in words I have used but not words I have said.



People act differently to how I experience the world, which causes very high levels of anxiety, confusion and isolation. Into the wildness, being in wildness is where I rebalance, find trust, nurture my practice. 


Making art - stimming through practice is where I am able to nourish and nurture and find calm, to sustain me for the existance in this world. 


Yet, these are in addition to my daily activity each day and this takes up my time yet is essential to my wellbeing and is part of my art practice. Is my work. 


In this way, my arts practice is my way of life that nurtures and sustains me through autistic stimming that provides a quilting point for an autistic artist and person. These processes when shared can be a benefit to others. 



What could that look like?


The Office of National Statistics reports that 81% of non-disabled are in work, 52% of disabled are in work, only 22% of neurodivergent people are in work (2020/21). There is also a disproportionate number of those that are neurodivergent in the arts. Finding a way to peace through a solid nurturing practice must be the first step to reducing access barriers to access in the visual arts and towards the creation of wellbeing.


Outside of my PhD I am also an art psychotherapist as well as artistic researcher, both intertwine. 


Making through Autistic Stimming is a test bed for me so I can explore how I can use my art-practice to nurture my wellbeing using stimmings as artistic methodology, and as a starting point.


From 2022 - 2026, I shall research, imagine and test what a neurodivergent, sustainable practice looks like, and invite through my case studies an opportunity to share this with wider and more diverse audiences. 


The process will start with a survey of my paintings, I shall then progress onto small sensory experiences and develop a creative response to each while documenting the process including writing a public blog. This will document me from the inside out, a view of neurodivergence that is rarely seen. A selection of ideas will then be developed further. Finally, the whole experience will be shared at an online event for which I am partnering with DAC.


Questions to address:

How do I document my positive sensory difference; what I see and feel that is different to the mainstream?

Can I illustrate / document it with sound, movement, placement, other...?

The process will be a flowing and intuitive experience. I don't yet know what direction it will take or what will emerge other than I intend to work towards a practice of sensory calming that will inform myself and be shared with others. 



These are sketchbook notes 

Interestingly it's when I'm in burnout that I get most of my ideas. It's almost as if my body and my mind is so exhausted it goes into a sense of deep rest and that's when I realise that I can go deeper. It feels like I'm burying myself into the soil, into the Earth and feeling nearer to the Earth's core. It's almost as if I am looking for places of darkness in order to feel out in the dark, if you like, for ideas. In this sort of resting place I am able to Journey in my mind, which is quite a transcendent feeling. I might need to sleep for long periods, but during burnout is this sort of craving if you like to write and to draw and paint and to make. Sometimes I even go mute and during those moments of total silence the ideas and thoughts and dreams and colours and memories might even rush away. I might have moments of nothingness that I must drown into layering and that layering could be layering images, sound layering or painting physical collages on canvases. Often there are so many canvases and paintings in my home that you can trip over them and I might not be able to stop for a very long time so there could be three or four days of constant making.


I get my ideas from the wild landscapes; the spaces such as the liminal space where there are no walls. The wilder the better; forests where trees are crunchy underfoot and bouncy grounds made of moss and grasses. It's here, either in a graveyard or a wild vastness of space like the Forest or by the water, that I come to listen, just in my mind - burnout - zone out more, daydream, journey. It is here that often brings me a place where I can explore.


I am quite a solitary person. I've been bed bound and housebound for quite a number of years and I do experience high levels of anxiety. So while I am an arts mentor, an art psychotherapist, a professional artist and now also an arts researcher, I do have to go to Wild places to feel connected and be able to collaborate with other people. It's almost like I have to recharge myself. 


That’s how Biodivergent Sites and Sounds started; my recent project about Harlesden Canal. Biodivergent is a play on the word Biodiversity - Biodiverse. People often get the word “neurodivergent” wrong in the UK, they say neurodiverse instead of neurodivergent.


There’s so much shame around the word neurodivergent as they perceive the word “divergent” as something to be ashamed about - but diverse as a reason to celebrate their diverse mind… but that’s not what neurodiverse means. Neurodiverse means all humanity, all humans. Just as biodiverse means all wildlife, plants etc and so when coming up with the title, we thought hey Biodiversity, Biodiverse - let’s do Biodivergent.


Because we celebrate the differences in nature, a wonky looking plant or flower, a tree that isn’t growing like the rest etc. we love these plants. We need to look to the trees and they’re all beautiful and we must embrace them, and that’s what I want for neurodivergent people.

I have experienced bullying and exclusion in my life, and so I am divergent, there’s no shame in that word. And so we went with Biodivergent. There’s also a double meaning for “site” - website but also site-specific, because I’m a live artist and I make work live on site.


I wanted to bring the site specific experience to a website where you could experience the canal site live online and interact with the elements of nature and also art-making whilst also becoming and being an artist too, almost a journey into the artist’s body live on site whilst making art yourself.