Kintsugi and the Beauty in Broken Things

'Hidden Damage' 
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering 
There is a crack, a crack in everything 
That's how the light gets in.

- Leonard Cohen

Kintsugi ("golden joinery" or "golden repair") is the Japanese art form of repairing broken pottery with gold. It treats the breakage and repair of the item as part of its history, its journey, its existence. Rather than hiding the damage, it brightly illuminates the repair, inviting the world to see its improved beauty.

Just like pottery, we humans can crack, splinter, break, shatter. These knocks remain part of our being and, whilst a brave face might create a temporary disguise, nobody can hide forever. At least I couldn't. To heal, I found I had to expose.
Kintsugi treats the crack as merely an event in the life of the object, not a reason to end it. Kintsugi knows that something is more beautiful for having been broken. As someone who considers themselves broken, that can be hard to believe, but at my depths I know it is true.

A few months ago I was asked by Eleanor Patton Jewellery to model for her 'Hidden Damage' collection campaign shot by Meredith Andrews. The collection examines her experiences of anxiety, the social taboos still surrounding mental illness and the struggle in asking for help.

Eleanor is a brave soul. She makes herself vulnerable as an artist, as a woman and as a taboo-breaker. Art is activism and Eleanor is proof of that. She uses her story and her talent to free many of us from the shackles of stigma.
Eleanor Patton, the artist

Eleanor explains:

"For me mirrors represent the presented self. They are a literal reflection of how we wish to be seen, hiding beneath the surface is our true selves. By using whole, broken, and repaired mirrors, my new collection explores the different stages of mental health and the pressure to present a perfect image of yourself, when inside you are broken. Using the Kintsugi technique of repairing with gold, I have created pieces of jewellery which show the beauty in the broken. 

"I want people who struggle with depression, anxiety, every mental health problem there is, to know that they are not alone, and that they are beautiful."

When I wear my piece from the collection I am reminded of how far I've come to get to where I am now. And that the process of repair I've gone through is pure gold.


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