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Dawn Garisch

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Workshop on: Working With Your Life Images

It seems that anyone can learn about character development and plot points, but no-one can teach you how to write. I am interested in the process whereby a writer (or any artist) arrives at content. With this in mind, here is a flier for a workshop:

Working with your Life Images
facilitated by Dawn Garisch

“Ask not what the image means, ask what it wants.”
- James Hillman, Jungian analyst

The premise of this workshop is that we each have a life motif that is more or less unconscious. A motif is a distinctive idea, or theme. It derives from music and literature and other art forms, where the writer or artist elaborates on and develops a central theme.

We live both the rational and symbolic aspects of our lives concurrently, with reason held in higher regard than the non-rational. Yet the difficulties we repeatedly encounter in relationships, illness, injury, employment, finance and creativity, are frequently and maddeningly resistant to logic. In this workshop, we will identify the central symbols and images that underlie and drive our lives. Conjoined to our beliefs, motivations, resistances, addictions, desires, faiths, criticisms and confidence (or lack thereof) are powerful symbol/images. While these remain hidden and static, they can play havoc; if they are acknowledged and engaged with, they can refresh and rekindle us.

Through paying attention to early and recurrent dreams, early favoured stories and poignant memories, life changing events, chronic illness, and stuck patterns, we can regain the symbols that form and inform the foundation upon which we live and out of which we create. Instead of using our rational minds to critique, diagnose and incise, we will tangentially approach the images that arrive by means of imagination, exploring this impulse through the non-rational. Using movement, writing, drawing, clay sculpture, collage, story-telling, sound and visualisation, we will aid those images – resident but dormant within our life motifs – to emerge and evolve.

Imagination is an extraordinary tool. We tend to use it to constrain ourselves through fear, self-deception and false assumptions, thereby preventing ourselves from finding out who we are and what we are doing on this earth. Commerce and social constructs use images to manipulate and to control us. In this workshop we will reclaim imagination as a means to release ourselves into awe and creativity, connectedness and purpose, awareness and pleasure. Through becoming conscious of and engaging with the images that shape our lives, we will engender ways to live a flesh-out, creative and fully-fledged life.

This workshop can be helpful to anyone who feels the need to refresh his or her life force or creative projects. Although this is a group process, much of the work will be done individually. Anyone can benefit regardless of skills, training or experience.

Venue: The Forge, Windsor Road, Kalk Bay. Parking at the bottom of Boyes drive.

June 18th – 20th Friday night, 7pm – 10pm, Saturday, 9am to 5pm, Sunday 10am to 3.30pm

Cost: R900. The workshop is limited to 12 people. A deposit of R450 secures your place.


Dawn Garisch has had five novels, poetry and adult literacy books published. Her latest novel, Trespass, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth prize in Africa. She has had a short film produced, and has written for newspapers, magazines and for television. She has run workshops on creativity at Dakini and the Mother City Book Fair.

Currently she is working on a non-fiction book which examines the two legs of her working life – writing and doctoring. It explores how science and art perceive the world and the truth, what the body has to do with this, and how the tools required to develop a creative project are also essential for living life creatively.

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