Sammy Coles


Domestic Drainage

During the final year of study, an integral aspect of the training was an independent body of research – conducted over ten months. My chosen research topic was my subjective experience of ‘fatherlessness’, which was explored using an a/r/tographical methodological design. This research module provided an opportunity to engage in an arts-based investigation of a subject of personal nature. This aimed to increase my understanding and first-hand experience of the art therapy process.   

My arts-based experimentations and outcomes revolve around the metaphor of a domestic drainage system. Symbols of the drainpipe, the plughole and the sink collectively reflect the transformative potential of creativity. The exploration of these symbols represents the personal challenge of locating ‘uncommunicated’ material surrounding paternal absence – which had been withheld within the drainpipe. Then ‘drawing it up’ through layers of shame, resistance and vulnerability to reach the plughole – where it finally found containment within the confines of the sink.  

The dichotomy between gum and icing represents the continuing and conflicting self-dialogues that take place in relation to my feelings about my fatherless identity. The gum symbolises the raw, chewed, spat out, primal emotions that stem from this part of self. Whereas the icing depicts the façades, falsities and silences used to cover these feelings – in the hope of upholding a respectful and compliant aesthetic.


Titles: Thaw / Melt
Medium: Watercolour pencil 
Year: 2019 


Title: Glare / Ogle / Cast
Medium: Watercolour pencil 
Year: 2019 


Title: Drain
Media: Photoshop collage, text 
Year: 2020


Title: Lesion / Purulence / Stale
Media: Collage; Collage; Photoshop collage, text 
Year: 2020


Title: Prop
Media: Wax, chewing gum, carpet 
Year: 2019


Title: Seep / Torn / Beneath / Fracture
Media: Collage 
Year: 2020


Title: Smother
Medium: Photoshop collage 
Year: 2020


Title: Entrail / Evade / Enclave / Between
Medium: Collage; Collage; Collage; Photoshop collage 
Year: 2020


Title: Cluster / Merge / Amalgamation
Medium: Photoshop collage 
Year: 2020


Title: Release Me / Release Me (Viewer)
Medium: Photoshop collage 
Year: 2020


This photoshop collage represents the intended final installation view. It presents a pseudo-domestic space that seems familiar from a distance. Upon closer viewing, the chewing gum is seen to dislodge and disrupt the foundations of this setting. It evokes ambiguity within a space that visually resonates to the home.  


About Sammy

After completing her BA Fine Art degree at Norwich University of the Arts in 2015, Sammy has primarily been working in nursing and residential care home settings. This has involved working closely with various healthcare professionals to provide care and support for elderly individuals with varying mental and physical abilities.  During her art therapy training at the University of Derby, she has gained experience working within a hospice and a community hospital school – both based within the East Midlands. Her key areas of clinical interest include; attachment, trauma and loss. 

Copyright © 2020 Sammy Coles