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Charmaine Chanakira

Change, something we are all accustomed to but yet remains very foreign. I experienced a lot of changes in the past few years, some welcomed and some very undesired. I had been very good with change, embraced it mostly, but not this time. This was an internal change, unavoidable, but very necessary. I suffered from what I called the “it’s fines”, going through life hoping things got better. “It’s fine, I’ll pay that bill next month, it’s fine I’m alone now but he will come, it’s fine I’m just a little ...sad”.

It was a real shock to my system when things were not fine and the bills were piling up and the sadness didn’t go away. Yet I maintained the perfect smile and a fraudulent bubbly persona. Eventually, I stopped getting out of bed, stopped keeping up with friends and stopped leaving the house completely. The depression came hard and strong. I knew I was suffering, but I didn’t know how to ask for help. Who do I talk to? How do I allow myself to be vulnerable? I grew up in an environment where vulnerability was a sign of weakness, so it made opening up to someone very hard.

What always made me feel better was painting or drawing, creating artwork that detached me from the material world. I trained as a graphic designer but I found that painting carried me away to a place where I was calm, safe and unjudged. I wasn’t bound to creating something perfect, I didn’t have to colour within the lines. I travelled to a place where I was face to face with my feelings and confronted them with every brush stroke. Eventually, I managed to pick myself up and return to a healthy thought cycle. From my experience using art in a therapeutic manner, I felt compelled to explore this professionally.

My passion for people has grown over the years thus encouraging me to develop a career in the mental health sector. I know first-hand the benefits of using art as a way to self-heal and to encourage emotional intelligence through reflection and mindfulness. I would love more than anything, to help people on their journey the same way art has helped me with mine.

My illustrative art style is a mixture of Japanese manga, pop art and African art. I love using bold outlines and eye-catching colours. My painting tends to be more abstract and less refined, mixing modern expressionism with my African culture.

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