Stina Falle, Artist & Wise Woman
Stina Falle, artist and facilitator, recently dared to expose herself as “a fully fledged person full of labels” (see Brief History below) with her exhibition “Sands of Time” at the Black Swan Round Tower in Frome, selling her creative estate to raise money for the mental health charity, MIND.
In addition to the art exhibition, Stina also invited people to come in and share their stories and was struck by the fact that so many people who visited had remarkable and varied stories to tell about their journeys.
One woman particularly stood out for Stina, with a history of sedating her depression with alcohol, which then escalated into the bondage of addiction although luckily she’s been open to receiving help and discovered the Alcoholic Anonymous Twelve Step programme, which works by replacing addictions with cultivating a mind of faith.
Stina encourages us to realise that we are all part of a greater picture and that if we reach out and dare to share our story, we can connect with a community of others who understand what we’re going through and could greatly benefit from knowing they’re not alone.
Stina also believes that if we are going to be well then we must take responsibility for our own well-being as much as we can.
Granted, we have no control over things like death, certain illness, loss etc, which cause us untold misery and wounding, but in order to survive, we need to find ways of adapting and moving on; not relying on pills for our mental pain which can possibly damage our bodies and inhibit emotional growth.
Stina Falle - A Brief History
Stina Falle was born in Denmark in 1946 to a Danish mother and English father; and with a lineage of ministers, gardeners and doctors was inspired to study philosophy and become a priest but at that time was unable to realise her ambition as a woman so instead became a Quaker.
Between her O’levels and A’levels, Stina worked as a guide in a sculpture park for a Countess in Sweden where her life bloomed marvellously in the exquisitely landscaped gardens, but then at the age of seventeen, was called back to school in Brighton where she experienced her first sexual encounter which was so traumatic it caused her to have her first “manic episode” thus was sectioned and injected with a powerful sedative called Largactil.
Luckily, Stina recovered and went back to school to continue her A’Levels before going on to Sussex University to study Modern Languages where she met her husband, Des on an extracurricular German course in Bonn, beside the River Rhine.
At the end of her first year at Sussex, Stina suffered another breakdown and wanted to leave university to go around the world “for peace” in response to the Vietnam war but her father suggested that she finish her degree, so she decided to change from Modern Languages to Philosophy and Religion at the School of African and Asian Studies.
After analysing a range of spiritual paths, Stina ended up with a lot of knowledge but not much personal faith thus in her third year, had another breakdown due to over-analysing the concept of time(!) and headed back to the hospital in Brighton before returning to complete her dissertation on “mysticism”.
After completing her degree, Stina went on to study art in Hornsey, London before marrying Des and having three children but the stress of bringing up a young family and the isolation of living in a remote Mendip farmhouse caused her worst and final serious breakdown, which she describes in her book “Sectioned”, compiled during her Master's degree in Bradford.
After further study in the discipline of art, first at Weston-super-Mare and then Bristol, Des was transferred to Yorkshire to become a Headmaster so they uprooted and Stina got a place at Sheffield Art College, where she completed a Degree in Fine Art Printmaking with a very successful dissertation on “The Healing Power of Colour” triggering a real passion for art therapy.
Stina then went on to exhibit her art and taught in collaboration with the Yorkshire Art Circus (an enterprise which evolved after the closure of the mines) which then lead to setting up her own initially self-funded art centre, ARC (sustained by the Workers Educational Association) before accepting a one-year artistic residency on the Isle of Egg, which Stina refers to as the “Island of My Soul” and often retreats back there to recharge. In 2005, Stina moved to Frome to look after her elderly parents which meant putting her art on the backburner, but was able to give some energy to voluntary projects, become a Green District Councillor and set up the Frome Artists' Café.
Since her final breakdown in 1981, Stina has managed to remain stable with the help of her dedicated husband, friends, art, herbalist, psychotherapy and the extraordinarily compassionate Frome community so now feels liberated to get on with helping others to order their lives and feel good about themselves through artistic practice and is hosting her exhibition, “Bedlam!” at the Silk Mill from 9-14th April, raising money for MIND, ARC and the Frome Children’s Festival.