It's amazing to be back on the Restless mission after a long pause. The project is all about using walking and coastal landscapes to talk about my experiences of living as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). Today we started a 5 day walk along the West Somerset coast - our first day took us from Steart Marshes to Kilve past Hinkley Point Power Station. It seems fitting to start - as my life did - with a big, ugly, toxic scar in the landscape. The rest of our journey will be leaving that behind, walking away from it albeit somewhat in its shadow. Hinkley looms large, feels dominant, intimidating and callous. For me, there are obvious links between environmental abuses and CSA - that greedy, disrespectful colonisation of pristine territory - how people’s short lived consumption impacts on and on into the future…..
The landscape around Hinkley is wild and ancient - there is a submerged petrified forest older than Stonehenge. My companion this week, producer Fiona Fraser Smith found a piece of prehistoric wood that just happened to be shaped like a large penis which was ironically hilarious. I looked down at lunch to find I was sitting next to an ammonite fossil. The beaches here are chockablock full of incredible geological features - telling stories of the past - of where we come from. What will be our legacy?
By the end of the day I was dozing on a warm smooth shelf of rock on Kilve beach listening to the tide - my body tired but relaxed from a day’s walking. There is such freedom and release being out in the elements and in the simple, primal act of walking. Living with abuse is an unimaginably horrific experience of being trapped and out of control - feelings that have been triggered strongly by lockdown - so I relished today - every spacious, uninterrupted, autonomous step.
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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.