Go on, I dare you: Philippa Perry’s advice for a fulfilling new year

The therapist tackles the Observer readers’ personal problems every week as our agony aunt. Her tip for an amazing 2022? Get out there and find a new passion

At the beginning of lockdown, so I wouldn’t be alone all day, I went to hang out with my husband at his art studio. I started playing with clay again, something I hadn’t done much since leaving art school decades before. I was in the studio when Grayson started his Art Club with Channel 4 and thought I’d make things and chip in. Many people contacted the show to share their artwork. Often, like me, they’d not picked up a brush for a long time, or this was the first time they’d attempted art. We heard so many stories about how people benefited from making things and the confidence they gained by getting better at it, I couldn’t help but be inspired to keep pushing myself as well.

I’m pleased to report that I haven’t stopped making art since the cameras turned off and, even after lockdown eased, I’ve carried on. This summer a friend needed some abstract modern art to make her therapy centre seem a bit less clinical. How hard can it be, I thought, to get a canvas and chuck a load of paint at it? Turns out it is very hard indeed. Arranging shapes and colours so they somehow look right took me several months before I had six canvasses I thought might not be too terrible. Now the therapy centre has its canvasses, but I can’t stop. How to arrange paint and form so it looks right has become something of an obsession. You could call it a hobby if you like, but that word isn’t quite serious enough for me.

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