Just to introduce you to one of our Fellows Lizzie Burns. After a PhD in Cancer Research at Oxford, Lizzie has been communicating science through art in various ways, including using Origami in a positive way with her patients...
...Origami is both an art and science. In picking up paper and adding folds, the everyday is transformed into something beautiful. If you’ve not thought Origami is for you I encourage you to challenge yourself and give it a go. Origami is not something I’d done before or would have thoughts I could do but a patient wanted to teach me how to fold a traditional lily and asked me to pass this onto others. The lady I approached learnt to fold paper while unwell as a child, and continued as an adult in hospital. She would make bunches of flowers for healthcare workers to give thanks for their care and bringing a smile to all.
When folding you’ll find yourself completely focussed and that will mean you’re not thinking about other things to give a ‘holiday for the mind’. While the idea of relaxation sounds appealing, few of us can relax without doing something actively. In adding each fold you let out some stress, and this is used positively to create structure. We get stressed when situations are out of our control. Through creating we have control over what we are doing. Many people don’t think of themselves as creative, but Origami is a way you can embrace creating through joining a path of folds passed from one to another. Paper folding is part of a culture of kindness where people have made discoveries and passed them on; transmission in a good way. By joining the ‘fold’ you will find delight, joy and nurture a playful side of yourself. You can choose figurative or abstract to make something of meaning to you, or with time you can make gifts to express your care for loved ones and bring a smile.
So how to start? Any paper will work, so don’t think you need special Origami paper (though this can be an additional treat if you really get into it). It’s wonderful to transform a piece of paper you’d have thrown out into something special and meaningful. Sometimes I add colour or marks to a piece of paper to see how it will change. With learning Origami I found myself coming up with three simple rules. First, be accurate so take your time and really make sure you line up corners. If it starts well it will continue well. Second, give good strong creases as this gives your piece strength and this also makes it relaxing and satisfying. Third, and not really a rule, it’s meant to be fun so think of this as playful. Be kind and patient on yourself. Most of all this is about encouraging yourself to try something new, and will bring a real buzz when it comes together with persistence. So how to learn folds, or follow them? There are plenty of books, but if you’re like me you may find them off putting and too hard. I’d recommend learning from You Tube videos which is how I learnt. It’s surprisingly calming to watch hands and you can pause or slow down and then have a go yourself, and brings a feeling of connection. During this time I’ve been recording a fold each week which feels relevant, as well as interesting and possible. Each time I show using A4 paper. I’m starting a free monthly ‘Origami for wellbeing’ fold open to anyone.