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23 Visual artists work from as many perspectives as there are artists – some meticulously creating their works to fulfill a vision, some working with the material to be surprised by what evolves, and others engaging the process from every step along this continuum. The work may be mainly self-expressive or intended to be evocative for the viewer. Viewers bring their own perspective and may be in synchronization with the artist’s intent or have a powerful experience or interpretation that is not at all what the artist intended.

But, speaking particularly of words and that which is written down – which is the area that I’m going to talk about – it’s more obviously narrative because it’s a story in words. It doesn’t matter how abstract it may be. Part of what is dramatic and expressive is that one finds metaphors and elements which represent an idea. As opposed to saying, ‘I hate my mother’, if you say, ‘The rabbit destroyed the carrot’, then you may have a different form of expressivity. Another thing I think about is what I call overtones.

We can only speculate about the origins of narrative storytelling, but we know the art is ancient and universal. 4 She has suggested that narrative storytelling had its origin in play activities, with gifted but ordinary folk entertaining their particular social group informally. Gradually these activities were included in religious rituals, historical recitations and educational functions. Christina Baldwin tells us, ‘Life hangs on a narrative thread. 5 William C. Menninger used literature6 – books, poetry, newspapers and magazine articles for adjunctive homework to enrich the therapeutic environment.

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