Your Stories: What makes Art such a Therapeutic Tool?

Years ago in the early to mid-1990s I began painting, something I hadn’t done since my childhood.  This was during an extended difficult time when my ‘natural’ medium of expression, the written word, was no longer able to capture the intensity of what I was going through. I painted dream images and turbulent inner emotional landscapes onto large sheets of paper, using acryllics paints as I crouched on the floor of my kitchen, a posture I came to realise evoked a little girl self’s love of colours. Then, for a long time, drawing fell out of my life; a time during which I traded countries and work identities.


In recent years this medium of expression has returned to my life: getting older has if anything sharpened the edges of my experiences of depression and drawing has become a means of managing the ebbs and flows of a mental health trajectory that, here in India, hasn’t found the nuanced professional support that once ‘held’ me.


Now I use soft pastels to depict the struggles of an inner self, of darkness and aloneness, of ugliness and yet a longing to be seen.

Manjari Mehta

About the Artist (in her own words): I’m a social anthropologist, lover of mountains and animals, and am at my most content when tramping across wild landscapes and mucking about in my garden. Once upon a time, in Boston, I was an academic but a paralysing fear of writing effectively closed off that path. Now I live in Dehra Dun amidst a jungle-like garden and an unruly pack of (twelve) dogs, and look forward to a time when I can once again walk these mountains and pick up the threads of research interests that focus on the changing lives of communities of the low and middle hills of Uttarakhand.