A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Sophie, an amazing young artist who has Tourettes. She shared with me some images of an incredible creative project she’d undertaken in response to her tic. I was blown away and really keen for other people to see it too. I suggested she write a guest post and, excitingly, she agreed. So, take it away Sophie.
Hello! I’m Sophie, I’m 18 and I was diagnosed with Tourettes Syndrome when I was 10. My tics are usually very mild, and don’t affect my everyday life very much. Most of the time I forget they’re even there, but other people tend to notice them, particularly during extremes of emotion (excitement, frustration but most prominently boredom.)
I experience physical tics including arm and jaw movements, toe tapping, muscle tensing and heavy breathing. Usually coupled with these tics are trance-like episodes during which I can’t perceive anything going on around me, but very random sequences of tics similar to dreams play in front of my mind like a film. I call them ‘thought tics’.
Earlier this year I saw Touretteshero giving a talk at St John’s College in Cambridge. She talked about viewing Tourettes as a creative resource rather than a setback, and I had never thought about it in that way.
I’m an art student and I’m constantly looking for inspiration, so for my final major project I decided to record as many of my ‘thought tics’ as I could remember and turn them into an art piece. The result was a grid of individual collages overlaid with screen printed and painted text, each one illustrating a particular tic. I also included a wooden box, which represents the boxes on forms so many people with disabilities have to fill in when applying for anything.
There’s a page of information about Tourettes inside the box, and the viewer has to put their head very close to the box to read it. This restricts their perception, much like some of my tics do.
The piece is called ‘Tic Box’. I was really pleased when, at my exhibition, people really seemed to engage with it and read the information. I received a triple distinction overall for my BTEC course, and next year I’m going to study Fine Art at University.
I would finally like to say a big thank you to Touretteshero and her team for allowing me to share my work on the blog, and for being such an awesome inspiration!
Thanks to Sophie for sharing her work and experiences. If you’re feeling inspired and need a way to get started, there are over 6,000 of my tics here just waiting to be turned into art.
I’m always really keen to hear from people with and without Tourettes who have interesting projects or perspectives they’d like to share. Please get in touch if you’ve got an idea for a guest blog post or if you have artwork you’d like to showcase on the site. Touretteshero is for everyone, with and without tics.