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The Shape Of Words

The seed of this project came about from a frustrating day. You know, if you are here, that I make jewellery. You may or may not know I am autistic. A diagnosis at aged 42 made sense of a lifetime of being a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. Some days, not even being a peg, but I digress...

Along with countless other autistic people, I have sensory processing problems. So I don't process sensory input in the same way as neuro-typical folk (or as we tongue-in-cheek refer to at home; 'the normals'). In my case, these are largely focussed around sound, smell and touch. I will be telling you more about this during the course of the project. It's important to know that these get worse, and are magnified during times of stress and/or illness.

Like millions of others, lockdown during Covid, has been super weird. In one way, I have been delighted, as I tend to shun almost all but necessary social interaction, and I hadn't played any video games solidly for some time. I didn't go into the studio from April until the very end of May, because I had nothing to do. Galleries were closed, my suppliers were closed, the assay office who hallmark work were closed, and business shut down for a bit. I was at home, I don't drive and at most, I'd walk the dog extremely locally.

I was getting stressed out. Bills to pay, no money coming in, kids worried and learning to be together 24/, husband having to retrain in a new field. It was all getting a bit much. I needed distraction and had to admit to myself that maybe I should do something new, to stop going fully feral.

I decided I'd have a crack at a conversational Welsh course (more on 'why' in another post). I began with the 6 month 'Say Something In Welsh' course, I liked that there was no written aspect, and that I'd heard very good things about it. I knew my sensory issues were high, but I found very early on that I was having very physical/sensory responses to words. Ironically, the first word being 'dechrau'; meaning start. It gives me the heebie jeebies. An actual shudder. I've had this before, there are a couple of English words that make me feel funny and I've never really thought about it before, I just avoid using them!

I noticed very distinct visual/textural associations with some of these new words, and thought it would be very interesting to explore this and make jewellery based on the shapes, sensations and feelings these words were provoking.

To cut a very long story short, I climbed right out of my comforte zone to apply for and (with a dollop of generous assistance from some very lovely people) be awarded a grant from the Arts Council of Wales, to do exactly this. To be allowed the time and space to experiment is an unbelievable relief and joy, and I am absolutely delighted. I hope you'll join me on the journey, which will end with an exhibition in Oriel Bevan Jones Gallery in Carmarthen beginning on St Dynwen's Day 2021. The collection will also hopefully be shown in an Autism Hub near my hometown later this year. I will be keeping plenty of notes, sketches and diaries to share with you on the way. I'd love to hear any questions, please comment, or email lydia@niziblian.com

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