I’ve found myself extraordinarily moved today - I’ve had quite a few little cries and feel a bit blown away. It's been a gentler day - only 15 miles and ¾ of a mountain... I started the day reading about the geology of this area. The rock here is a combination of slate, red sandstone and limestone from the Devonian era - a global geological period (so called because they were first studied in Devon) and the oldest rocks in the county dating from around 400 million years ago. I won’t try to explain it - I’m not a scientist and you can google it - but the thing that has stirred me is the fish skeletons that are found within these rocks that show the development of the first ever jaws. Let me explain.
This walk and the whole Restless project, like all of my work, is about nurturing voice, visibility and community for and with survivors of child sex abuse. One of the things I am doing as I walk is writing songs and poems, talking about my journey as a survivor, drawing on imagery and metaphors from coastal landscapes. Abuse took my voice away and I’m still in the process of finding it. One thing that preoccupies me is the fact that because abuse survival is still so taboo, culturally we don’t really have accessible ways to talk about it. The project is about finding the words and finding a poetic language to express my experiences in the hope that contributes to opening up a new cultural fluency that is desperately needed, if we are to become empowered as a community and make change.
Particularly I have a debilitating fear of singing, I was late developing speech (because of early trauma), when I did I had speech impediments, I was bullied at school because my voice was nasal (because I couldn’t breathe freely due to trauma) and had various other restrictions and rejections around my voice. This project is about reclaiming my voice, letting it out, letting it be whatever it authentically wants to be. That is part of my activism.
So today discovering that some strange twist of fate has brought me to a place known all over the world for these little fishes who had evolved jaws - without which there would be no speech and no song. That those fishes have been hidden for millennia - that has moved me to tears - the rightness of it all. I’m welling up as I write this and now I want to know everything there is to know about jaws - do I know any jaw experts? I may become a jaw bore - a mandible nerd - a maxilla geek… Oh it’s started - I’m just gonna go with it…
You can find out more about Restless here: https://www.vivgordon.com/restless
And you can financially support the project and the work we do here: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/vivgordonco
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I'll be posting my personal reflections on creating work as an artist and survivor of childhood sexual abuse, my work with the wider sector and interesting developments in arts and mental health.