Updated: Jul 23, 2019
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) happens after you experience something extremely stressful, it can affect you if you witnessed something terrible happening let alone live through a life changing tragedy. Grenfell fire has changed our community on so many levels, some have found a voice to call out on failed authorities, others have no words to express what they feel let alone what has happened.
Most people take time to get over a traumatic event, but in PTSD, you can't move past the event and carry on having dreams, flashbacks or upsetting thoughts about it.
Children are affected as are grown adults, stopping people from resuming regular activities such as concentrating at school, getting up for work or even carrying out simple household chores.
But what about the youth or more specifically young adults 18+, how do you react when so much pressure is on you from the media, from your family and friends? You’re starting a new chapter in your life possibly heading to university or starting your career? You might be a young parent or a carer with responsibilities of your own, now you’re facing the deepest challenge that's not only taken over physically but has control of your mind.
When your own mind is questioning life and the people you once trusted? You are in a space of grief, doubt, anger, sadness ...pain.
It’s an overwhelming mental health condition that creates anxiety and depression. Given the state of our community right now, many of our local members can identify with this, with some directly affected through losing family, their homes or close ones as young adults who are going through these symptoms too, battling with mental health and responding to the same trauma we naturally came together to create something we hoped would help more young people immerse in healing, maybe healing is an ambitious word- far to early to even acknowledge; because really it’s just a distraction.
Distraction in creative outlets at times like these can be a lifesaver when surrounded by other people who understand the grief and stress in your environment. The arts is our emergency response, our tool for coping each day.
Getting in touch with our friends in the industry, taking up generous offers and receiving gifts to take groups of young locals to events such as comedy with the hilarious mo the comedian in camden…. Funny because even 45 minutes of laughing can take you away, padding for the pain, but as soon as you return to latimer road, or head back to the hotel…. Its like you didn't even leave.
Another night we ventured to sadlers wells and watched a performance by breakin conventions, choreographed street dance and stage performance really brought us together. Inspiring stories told through movement, music communicating messages and exploring the world through space and sound. Turns out that the same DJ on stage was actually a firefighter on the night of Grenfell, so this was a special moment shared away from West London but with our lost friends and family at the centre of our hearts. Thanks max!
Every event we attended sent their condolences to west london, with a minutes silence and a gestured sign of respect to the 72 lives lost.
Sometimes this felt awkward, not going to lie, its as if we were trying to have a night away from the media, away from the grief perhaps away from the flashbacks and smell that lingered our roads for months after. Yet everywhere we went there were signs of the very tragedy that changed our lives forever. We soon realised this affected more than just w11 we knew this has awoken the minds of people across the country, across the world from all socioeconomic backgrounds, in all languages people were talking about our area…. But that's it. Our area, everyone else could go back to their homes and move on the next day but we have to walk through the cloud, comfort our people, be there however we can…. Even if we dont understand whats going on… people are depending on us.
We thought that creative outlets would work like art therapy, but it soon became apparent that we can’t erase an experience or trauma, it’s now become a layer of us, in our dna and our identity, we carry it like solidarity amongst the rest of our community, we wear the green heart with pride and we represent our community far and wide every place we are welcomed.
Creatively this is our expressionism, music played a strong part in this.
With support by Akala, charlie sloth and lowkey we were able to attend their sold out concerts, inspiring new photographers to immerse themselves in a world of capture, of focus and resolution. This was therapeutic in itself.
London Fashion Week invited us to attend the nelly rose graduate shows, which again inspired a new body of work by some of our younger creatives interested in designing and using this experience to explore the fashion industry, particularly fashion photography and journalism.
Film and stage played a great part in this therapy also, a deep connection with new characters and relevant fictional people who play out a tragedy or adversity that we are facing on a daily basis. We watched plays on gentrification and immigration. Topics that were being raised heavily in our own community. The most prevailing show was barbershop chronicles, blessed to be given entries to his sold out night director inua williams gave us the opportunity to watch the award winning performance highlighting the journeys and common stories that connected 4 barbershops across the world.
Our last art4grenfell event ended with the Sotheby's auction art for Grenfell which raised funds for Grenfell survivors. Art donated by renowned artists such as the charity auction art for Grenfell at Sotheby’s london last night, October 16, proved again how artists are often the most generous donors. The sale raised nearly £1.9 million with the biggest cheer in the sellout, 31 lot-sale, greeting the sale of tracey emin’s neon work loving you more (2015), which raised £135,000
Sotheby’s waived most of its fees and buyers’ premium, so the majority of the money raised will go to former residents who are now living in temporary accommodation.
Idris khan, harland miller, and anish kapoor also created work or titled it with the disaster in mind. Kahn’s charcoal and watercolour I remember (2017) raised £35,000. Miller’s silkscreen of a paperback book with the title who cares wins (2017) went for £50,000 and Kapoor’s Red lens for Grenfell (2017) made £110,000
Art seems to definitely be a response to the tragedy in many forms and on many levels. We’re just thankful that so many creative outlets have been made accessible to young people and that we have been able to provide those opportunities to use the arts as a tool for managing their PTSD.