Vase, by Ank de Roo

Reflections from ReLit’s recent creative arts therapy social, by participant Sue Dawson.


‘Please remember to bring a short poem, piece of art, photo, song or object that you find therapeutic and that you would like to share with the group’… Ah, the agony of choice! What do I consider therapeutic? My mind wanders through poems, stories and objects in my home, but I really need to think carefully, because the sharing of this part of my life is public…

Vase by Ank de Roo

If you are overwhelmed by the cares of today: the rush to leave the house, the traffic jam, the bills needing to be paid and ‘what’s for dinner?’ you might glance over dismissively and see just a small green vase. But calm down, take a minute to look at the vase, really look at the vase and let your mind wander…smile as you admire its beauty, relax into your smile and begin to wonder at its creation. How did somebody form that, decorate it, glaze it? Above all, look at it. How much depth can you see? Could you even begin to paint it? It is not just a green vase.

A soft, subtle shade of blue green. Not the colour of envy, nor the rich dark green of an evergreen forest and definitely not the vibrant green of new spring growth, but a calm, restful, slightly muddy shade of Lake Trasimeno on one of its calm days in summer. Interior designers might call it ‘Eau de Nil’, but the colour is not uniform. My eye is drawn to the patterns spreading out around the base – are they fossilised shells, sea creatures immortalised in the glaze, or fungal growths, magnified under a microscope and transformed into things of beauty? They look too random, too intricate and far too delicate to be the work of man – surely only nature can produce such complexity of form, so many layers of colour, yet all of them a very delicate shade of pale green.

And this is how I introduced my object to a small group of people enjoying prosecco and cupcakes in a sheltered corner of a garden late on a warm, sunny afternoon. We were all just a little sleepy and replete, the initial tensions of meeting and introductions lapsing into a shared enjoyment of the sun, the garden and each other’s company. And so we began to share our stories. As each person in turn is handed the vase, they are only too aware of its fragility and its strength. Highly polished and smooth, immediately heavier than imagined, but with a top so small and delicate it demands to be treated with caution. People love to touch it, and yet are terrified to hold it – the unspoken awfulness ‘please don’t let me be the one to drop this beautiful vase!’ hanging over everyone. But at home, on the wide window ledge, it is safe and I can sit still, take a minute, look at it and let my mind wander…

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