Excuse me, your grief is showing

Nona Cameron
Doctoral Dissertation,

“Excuse me, your grief is showing” is a collection of 8 books making up my doctoral research project in therapeutic arts practice. Of these, there are 6 intersubjective books that show the creative explorations with 6 individuals around their significant and particular losses.

These volumes are unique to each person, that show what stood out from our relational encounters as ordinary everyday grief was expressed between us.

Diverse in size, creativity, and style, the books are presented in the ways they were called to be done. A graphic novel, a sewn boro, an altered book are some of the ways these stories are shown. Two volumes bookend these 6 stories, that give context, methodological significance and conceptual considerations on what and how we researched, as well as what stayed as meaningful. Included also is a reflexive account of the art-making processes that informed the creation of the creative books and my own responses and resonances in being with loss. The research was completed in 2016 through The Miecat Institute, in Melbourne, Australia. Links to view the entire collection can be found below, or to buy copies in book form or as PDFs.

Excuse me, your grief is showing
The everyday-ness of grieving is explored using arts as a way to express what feels impossible, in an arts-based experiential doctoral project. From a grief landscape mapped on a satin gown, to reflective matchbox dioramas, this book explores a need to show loss in its relational contexts. Being the first of 8 books exploring diverse ways that ordinary grief is expressed, it offers the context of this research inquiry and its methodological significances.

Picking up the thread with Mary
“Who will mind me?” was a recurrent question for Mary after her partner died. A sense of isolation and despair was significantly felt by Mary as she explored her embodied grief with Nona. As a fabric artist, Mary’s creative way of being with the threads of her experiencing influenced how Nona recorded their art making processes together. A paper copy of the original sewn ‘boro’ book, the textures and details of their relational collaborations are captured.

Is this me doing grief?
Carlos just wanted to draw one long line, but instead he spoke words, many many words, curlicues of words, that carried his grief. On the verge of being married, he traumatically lost the love of his life, with a complete break down in their relationship. He too broke down, depression, anxiety, panic followed. This graphic novel shows how Carlos and Nona explored through making art and being together, repairing his trust in relational engagements.

Traces and Tracks
Her Dad was a farmer from the salt lakes district, he had taught Sharon how to navigate the world in which she lived. After he died, Sharon was unsure how to make sense of this. She and Nona explored using art processes to shape what mattered for her. Unhurried, using her senses, often in silence, forms emerged, pushed against, revealed and disintegrated. Sharon manipulated materials, mapping her grief looking for sign posts. This lively book is a raw, visual account of what remains from these collaborative sessions, as Sharon and Nona were present with the absence of her father.

The tale of enough
Pearl needed to keen. Her mother had died a couple of years ago, but it was complex, and she had so much unexpressed grief. Pearl explored with Nona to find creative ways for her grief to have a voice. Layers of loss emerged, as past traumas were shared, through art making, performance, laughter, tears, movement. This altered book is a record of Pearl’s process of restory-ing her life, in ordinary and remarkable ways.

He gave me wings
Her husband was unwell but within weeks he had died. It was shortly after this that Karen approached Nona to try and make sense of her experiencing of intense grief. Together they used arts processes to shape what couldn’t yet be formed in words. This slender volume carries raw expressions, barely voiced, alongside iphone images of places of significance visited on the anniversary of her husband’s death. The extraordinary is in the ordinary-ness of loss.

Traversing Loss
Lucy became a full time carer when her adult daughter moved back home with her. Her daughter was experiencing significant mental health events that required much of Lucy’s attention, time and advocacy. Lucy worked with Nona using arts processes to explore her feelings of overwhelm, and accumulated grief. Nona created a record of their time together in a little book of images and poetic renderings in response to their relational interactions.

Showings and Tellings
Inquiring into the relentless everyday-ness of grieving with 6 others, is expressed through diverse artistic media in volumes 2-7. Each book is different, responding to the diverse ways we are present to the specificity of loss. This 8th volume shares reflections of what remains as important from a practitioner’s perspective, through poetic responses and matchbox artworks. Reflexive discussions follow of what came to be known through the tensions and paradoxes inherent in being with absence, as well as the profound interconnectedness from being with it all.

Please email Nona Cameron for a copy of the PDFs to be sent to you. nona@miecat.edu.au

If you wish to purchase a book, soft or hard copy, please use the weblink below.


Excuse me, your grief is showing
Doctoral dissertation, Nona Cameron


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