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In A Pickle  

Finding peace with collage

Collaging through quarantine blues

Myths of a fairy-tale existence I had envisioned fell like dominoes when I created my first collage.  

It personified my shattered dreams of how I thought life should unfold.

I realized in the collage’s creation in 1989 that this Snow White must rescue herself; no one else would be able to.

Peace replaced turmoil while I clipped and glued eclectic magazine pictures unto a sheet of cardboard. The story it told entered straight from another dimension.  

I had a prophetic insight into a cut-out man; his hands hid his face as he wept. The picture represented a loved one; I shuddered, realizing he was going to fall apart.   

A disease called Alzheimer’s would destroy his life and eventually kill him.

Naysayers tried to convince me otherwise, but the proof was in the collage pudding. 

Even though subsequent collages weren’t that enlightening, I couldn’t wait to see what else I buried in my subconscious that wanted to be revealed. Each one created a paradigm shift as I came away with fresh insight and healing.  

It is this therapeutic value that interests mental health professionals and why they make use of them in their practices.  

According to www.artandhealing.org, Creative art therapy:

  • Heals mind and body
  • Serves to cope with loneliness and illness
  • Changes one’s perspective, mood and relationships
  • Improves overall wellbeing.  
  • Assists shut-ins, caregivers, and veterans to nurture themselves. 

Most of the world’s population has become isolated during the global pandemic. Relief by the collages artistic expression may be an answer.

During the second wave of COVID-19 lockdown, the Herculean collage once again played its restorative role in my life.  

I collected discarded leaves shed by the trees during the autumn winds. A precious few appendages wouldn’t shrivel and be whisked away to the landfill, instead, immortalized on canvas. Decaying foliage transformed into art with paint, glitter, and glue.

While crafting these nature scenes, I reminisced about childhood memories. My younger self was free falling into a soft pile of leaves and jarred by the sudden impact of the frosty Earth. Twigs and protruding rocks bruised my delicate skin.  

The experience taught me that appearances are deceiving; the landing is hard. Undeterred, I shook off the pain and carried on to jump another day.  

Snapping out of my reverie, I finished the project. 

I was to discover there were communities of internet collagers, and through a friend, I met in the Westbank Writers Group. 

Lorraine Robinson, author, artist and poet, has been collaging for decades through an online club called SoulCollage. Various Zoom meetings keep her busy writing, collaging, painting and connecting with the outside world.  

At 88.5 years of age, Lorraine is thriving in her solitary confinement of COVID-19 lockdown. Every day is an adventure for her. She makes lemonade from life’s lemons, delighting in digital grocery shopping and home delivery. 

“Remember your ancestors, their ability to adapt brought you here,”  Lorraine said,

Living in uncertainty, we need to be adaptable. The pestilence continues to make its deadly rounds, along with rioting, looting, and upheavals we see on the evening news.  A positive outlet is necessary to release all that negativity. 

The mighty collage may be an avenue to explore your new reality.  

Dig up old magazines, newspapers or digital images that speak to you and create your healing collage. Let your inner-self-discovery begin its journey. 

No artistic talent needed, just a desire to break free from the melancholy of the heart, collaging your way into a sweeter existence.  

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About the Author

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel writes about the humour in every-day life, and gets much of her inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck’s writing style. 

Doreen also has a serious side, shares her views on current events, human-interest stories and sometimes the downright bizarre. 

She can be reached at [email protected]



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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