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On Friday 15th April 2016 I answer questions from Catherine Nolanwho is doing research into how childhood experiences may shape our art.
On my way to meet Catherine I find a book beside the road. I pick it up and read,
The family was split straight down the middle on a downward decline which spiralled before crashing headlong into the pits of hell.
This is uncannily pertinent. It describes my early childhood and the spiral that I use to combine different ways I understand through dance, drawing and animation.
The book is by Donna Williams, Nobody Nowhere: the autobiography of an autistic girl (Pub. Great Britain,1992). I am not autistic but I recognise in Donna's words the different ways I understand, consciously and unconsciously, but without privilaging one state over the other as seems to be implied here (p.186):
People who pride themselves on the ability to think complexly with a conscious mind still have not found the ability to think in symbols with a subconscious mind.
I realise that, like Donna, I share my personal story as a way of reconciling seemingly opposite states of being, knowing that I am not alone in this experience, and hoping that my story contributes to us better understanding our selves and each other. In my case the different states are emotional and rational, dramatically expressed by my mother and my father respectively.
For as long as I can remember I'd felt my identity split straight down the middle, as both an analytic observer and a freely associating artist. I recognise in Donna's words the 'cognitive dissonance' that academics like Iain McGilchrist talk about as tension between the scientific and artistic aspects of our human nature.