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  • Writer's pictureKirsten Farquhar

Weeks 17 & 18 .

Mental health break & visiting the Howff

Mental health break

During the majority of week 17 & 18 I more or less did no work. I never realised how much this pandemic has taken a toll on my mental health. I feel like for the most part of 2020 I was doing just fine despite the madness going on in the world, it was the thought of “everything will go back to normal soon,” that was keeping me going. Even during last semester, I wasn’t too hard on myself with regards to my work ethic because that thought still lingered. I refused to beat myself up over the quality of my work because I knew it wasn’t entirely my fault, the destruction that the pandemic has had on the world is out of my control.

But during the last 2 weeks, I feel like all my repressed emotions about this pandemic just hit me like a tonne of bricks. I felt overwhelmed, unproductive, helpless. Thoughts about having to spend another year at art school under pandemic restrictions and having to endure limited studio access, no in person events, social gatherings with my peers all over again really made me doubt why I’m even at art school wasting my experience. It isn’t fair. I worked so hard trying to get into art school for years, and as soon as I finally get in, I get 1 year of a normal experience and then - BANG! - the possibility of my last 2 years there in a pandemic. Literally what is the point?

Also my "primary-school-art-show-paper-mache-pile-of-shite" dolls house idea has went to actual shit. I've completely abandoned it. It did not look like the quality of work a 3rd year Fine Art student should be making. It really sucks cause had I had this idea in semester 1, I could have a full scale dolls house structure to work from right now. I can literally see the final outcome in my head, I just cant seem to make it a reality at this point in time. I think now I am going to have to find new ways of working and catch up on lost time.

One night, during me and Sara's lowest depressive episodes, I felt like the walls were beginning to close in on me. I could feel a panic attack begin to wash over me and I needed some air.

It was midnight, and me and Sara took some cornetto cones and went and sat outside on the steps to our flat for a smoke. I feel like I never spoke much about how I was feeling as I was focusing so hard on not letting my panic attack fully start. But from what Sara was telling me, and from what I seen in her drop in mood and motivation over the last couple weeks, I tried so hard to talk her through her emotions and make her realise that this is only a wee minuscule dark patch in comparison to the rest of her life. As we sat there she said something along the lines of "whats stopping me from jumping in front of that bus right now," and how she doesnt know who she is without her art. I reminded her of things she has told me with regards to other moments in her life where she has felt this low and how there has always been random but perfectly times signs from the universe that could mean it is not her time. Maybe we were meant to have this wee chat on the stairs that night. Maybe that was another sign. I was meant to be there for her at the right time.

The Howff Cemetery

In week 18 I did manage to come out of my overwhelmed state to go a walk and end up visiting the Howff cemetery in the middle of town. I adore visiting old cemeteries, there is a wee place that I visit often in my hometown, Falkirk, called the Calendar Park Mausoleum, here is a wee link to my old blog post about it from last semester -

The Howff is a burial ground in the city of Dundee, Scotland. Established in 1564. I actually stumbled across the cemetery whilst on my walk and decided to go in and explore. The place is tranquil and quiet. I have always found that visiting cemeteries during the day brings comfort and peace within me. I'm pretty sure I read that Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein whilst writing in a graveyard. For the rest of the day I felt more happy with a clearer mind. Walks like these are like therapy. Here is a wee note I wrote down after my visit to the Howff:

I went back to the Howff a few days later to take some photos. I am in love with the placement of the cemetery, it is enclosed by some of the most beautiful architecture in the city. Its also interesting how quiet and peaceful the cemetery is despite being in the centre of town.

I also took graphite and paper with me and took some rubbings of the gravestones and trees. I could see me using these rubbings in a artist book or something.

Also at the Howff I came across the witches stone which marks the final resting place of Grissell Jaffray: the last witch to be burned in Dundee. Placing small offerings upon the stone is meant to bring good luck. In further research I realised that her place of death is quite literally outside my bedroom window. There is a wee memorial for her in town, two mosaics of torches, one holding fire and the other holding water, which can be found across the cobbles on Peter Street, the wee alleyway connecting the Murraygate to Seagate.


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