One of the foundations of psychology is that people are profoundly shaped by their childhood. For many, the influence is detrimental and explains their later struggles in life. While this idea seems obvious to some, for others it’s confronting and rejected…”I had a hard childhood and it hasn’t affected me” they say.
As therapists, we respond with something like this metaphor… You have a piece of paper, perfectly smooth and white…I take it from you and crumple it. I hand it back and you smooth it out. Do you still have a piece of paper? Yes. Is it the same? No. It will never be the same. No matter how much you try to smooth it out, how flat you manage to get it…the folds will always be there…
We have been affected by our childhood, fundamentally and, no matter how much we try to smooth ourselves out, to present ourselves to the world as smooth and clean and perfect, the crumples remain embedded inside.
For some people the damage is relatively minor, for others, their whole personhood is wrinkled, creased, crumpled and bent. I’m concerned with those people…those people who will never reach their potential because they can’t. The pieces of work in the First Impressions series represent those people.
Using papers of different sizes, colours and weights, I’ve crumpled them in a variety of ways - a little, a lot, on the edges and in the centre. Some paper wrinkles easily and some is harder to fold; some children are less resilient than others to the same treatment. Then, I smooth out the paper - revealing the lines where the damage was done. No matter how much I try - the paper is never the same again.