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Changing Places: Tara Leaver on Brighton

Brighton beach 2012


Two things I’ve always loved: art and the sea.  And yet it took a crazy amount of time to create a life that was full of both.

I lived in London for my first thirty years.  When I was growing up I honestly thought it was the centre of the universe; why would I ever consider living anywhere else?  (I find that hilarious now.)

I thought I had everything I wanted; there was my family, friends, the shopping, the restaurants and bars, the galleries and museums.  After dropping out of university I did a year long art foundation course which I adored.  With the Yin comes the Yang however, and there was a darkness in me that grew and manifested as periodic episodes of crippling depression.  Looking back on it now I tend to be reluctant to describe that time; depression (and its manifestations) lends itself too well to dramatic hyperbole.

So my two great loves lay dormant for a long time; I hadn't realised how important they were to me then.  Depression will kill off your creativity with the efficiency of a heavy blanket dousing out a fire.

At 27 I left my long-time work as a Montessori teacher to travel, something I've always loved.  Of course I've gathered many treasured experiences from my travels, but when I found myself in absolute despair in a tiny hut on the shores of the beautiful Lago de Atitlan in Guatemala, the loneliest I'd ever been, I realised I had to change something.  I came home, crawled into bed and didn't come out for the best part of a year.

I realised I could no longer live the way I had been; it was slowly killing me.  (There's that hyperbole again!  And yet it's true.)  I did consider becoming a hermit for a while, but in the end I settled on Brighton, which combined a need for connection to other humans with proximity to the sea, something I could no longer live without.

I could not have predicted the healing that move would cause, although now I think my heart must have known.  That my art, which had disappeared during the depression years, would return to me, and the connections and fulfilment I would find as a result.  The sheer joy of being able to visit the beach every day of the year!  The mentor I would find who would help me change my life beyond all recognition.  The experiences I would call in that would push me in the direction of the life I wanted to live.

These days you will find me on the beach in all weathers, picking up treasures and soaking up the negative ions like they're about to run out, or drawing, painting and generally making a mess in the studio.  Were it not for changing places, both inside and out, I might never have been reunited with my two long lost loves.


Tara in Studio

Tara is a mixed media artist and Reiki master who lives on the south coast of England.  She runs Creative Spark sessions from her attic studio and has just published her first book - a 'little art and life manual' that's also titled Creative Spark.

Changing Places is a guest post series about the power of place to change us.  You can find more stories in the series here.  If you'd like to share your own story, please contact me for submission details.


Reader Comments (4)

thanks for sharing so bravely Tara; I've had a long relationship with depression. I'm also envious of your home by the sea - I'm working on manifesting mine. So glad that you have found somewhere to be your self and nurture your soul xo

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrachel

Love this series!

May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatricia

this was such a beautiful and inspiring story! thank you so much for sharing and thank you so much Helen for creating the forum. xoxo, e

May 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterelizabeth

What a beautiful story, thank you for sharing it Tara, and you for making this space Helen. Love to you both from Lise.

June 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLise Meijer

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