http://blowthebullet.squarespace.com/The idea of Art, as a means for self-expression and moreover as a healing tool in order to help oneself and others, has always struck me as an immensely powerful medicine.
Having graduated back in 2008 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts, I was somewhat displeased with the ideas of solely creating “art for arts' sake”. I wanted to create art that highlighted issues that are not often spoken of, especially in the Art world, as Nina Simon would put it " An artists duty is to reflect the times" and so I felt called to embark on this journey.
During this time, I delved into another form of art; Capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian Martial Art which, unbeknown to me at the time, was going to propel me forward in order to articulate my own healing journey. I had always been a fan of Martial Arts, especially as a means of self-defence and its endearing philosophies. This one however was extra special. It involved other creative means of expression such as music, singing, instrument playing, dance, and self-defence which allowed me to feel safer walking the streets at night. Not to mention that it communicated to me in my native tongue; Portuguese.
For over 10 years, I continued my practice in Capoeira as well as my Art. I was mostly creating paintings and jewellery items; however this was not feeding a soul calling that had been with me for many years…
…Let me explain.
I grew up in a very patriarchal environment where women were taught to be submissive, even when it cost them their lives. Back when I was too young to really understand the power struggle between men and women, domestic violence was real and on my doorstep. Finally, this emotional sore hit home after my Grandmother; who had spent years under the fearful gaze and ruthless hands of my grandfather, lost her battle.
The motivation behind the #blowthebullet came about after many years of countless encounters with women whose lives had been affected in some way or other by oppressive energies.
I needed to help raise awareness on this issue and what better way than to use Art to make the loudest noise possible. And so #blowthebullet was born. A statement exhibiting the fact that we, women and men alike, will no longer remain silenced.
My aim was to offer women and men a simple but effective tool of self-protection in the form of a self-defence whistle. Made from empty bullet casings, personally crafted into beautiful pendent necklaces and worn as a piece of protective jewellery. The concept behind the empty bullets is to utilise something that has a negative power of violence and death into empowerment and freedom! We are not all armed with self-defence training, but a hidden whistle can still pack a punch in a dangerous situation by startling the perpetrator and attracting attention.
In 2017, having just Launched #blowthebullet I was fortunate to have raised £735 in donations and funded a trip to Sri-Lanka. I volunteered with Capokolam, an innovative educational arts program working in marginalized communities. The theme for this year’s programme was female empowerment and so, I jumped at the opportunity.
Unfortunately, traveling across borders with former bullets turned to jewellery would prove tricky and I was faced with resistance, confiscation and possible imprisonment. So, I decided that for my safety and that of the team, not to take the #blowthebullet whistles. Slightly dishearten and fully aware that this will impact any future projects, especially overseas as the original idea was to distribute these whistles to the women I would be working with.
Regardless of the barriers I was to push forwards! There was great resistance with sharing this very personal story, on this platform. I kept toying with the idea of whether to keep it, (I thought) “emotionless” but what does that even mean?! The whole ideas behind this project is that it stems from a deep emotional need for change, to speak up, to make noise, and to be freed from traumatic bondage. You see, there is a wonderful synonym behind my grandmothers surname LIVRAMENTO “Freedom” “liberation”. When I felt unsure about what steps to take in order to make this vision a reality I sat, connecting to the deeper meaning behind her name and I knew I had to push on. I trusted that everything I needed to make this a reality would surface for me. I started overlooking the barriers and instead looked into other creative ideas to continue this journey.
Movement art was going to lead the way via the art of Capoeira, self-defence and dance. Connecting woman to the intelligent wisdom of their bodies, developing confidence, and deepening their, very often forgotten relationship to their bodies.
My current aspirations involve working closer to home, this time with women in London, who have taken refuge in safe houses, by running movement classes within these establishments. The self-protection whistles will comfort and support those who have escaped domestic violence but who feel vulnerable in public places as a result of their experiences.
In the near future, I want to venture to Uganda, where I hope to work with a non-profitable organisation LIDEFO . LIDEFO work with rural poor communities especially women and young adults, to improve their lives through training, education and empowering projects. And of course the land that birthed me, my little village (Curral Das Freiras) in the beautiful mountains of Madeira. In smaller village communities the whistles will work as deterrent and call for help in cases of domestic violence.
The Back Her Business funding would allow me to make this vision come to fruition. My aim is to raise enough funds to be able to purchase safer and more efficient equipment as well as a team of jewellery makers whom will help me finalise a more efficient and (louder) whistle. (This will help with ongoing funding)
I aim to grow this project by incorporating other forms of healing, through movement therapy, counselling, hands on healing, general creative workshops, and most importantly education.
Giving thanks for this platform.