- Our Story
- Vision and Mission
We believe everyone has a story to tell.
Yet, many stories are untold, hidden, or suppressed.
Soul Relics is an online platform on storytelling, objects and mental health. We are dedicated to respond to these issues using creative media and stories.
We anchor our memories with objects. By creating an open platform for connections to form between our individual stories, and letting each person use objects to express a fragment of past/ present personal account of mental ill health and recovery, we hope to create a collective message that transcends barriers between people, and challenges the stigma surrounding mental health.
Ultimately, we hope the platform will capture both unique experiences and common themes. We wish to provide a new way for people to tell and understand others’ stories.
If you agree with the cause, please read our stories, and/or send yours. You can also look at the vision statement on Medium
In brief, the founder went to the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb in summer 2015 and was amazed by how powerful and relatable objects and story-telling were. While we live in a society that focus on interpersonal relationships, have we paid enough attention to our relationships with ourselves? That planted the seeds of Soul Relics.
Object is a powerful media for reminiscence, when we see something, memories related to that object may readily come to mind. For example, when one sees a stuffed toy, it may bring back childhood memories.
This concept has been explored in other disciplines:
In the world of digital and technology, object is seen as an underlying force in social interactions. You can refer to social object theory here
In museum and heritage studies, more recently therapeutic effects are seen by touching objects in museums. Someone mentioned upon touching the miniature of a Greek Orthodox priest in a hands-on base gallery, she felt drawn back to the times of her holidays in Greece. Objects can represent part of one’s culture, tradition, and heritage. The Touching Heritage Project
started in 2014 and aimed to use object handling to connect under-used heritage collections and health and wellbeing.
…What about your personal “heritage”?
The Museum of Broken Relationships, a physical and virtual museum for treasuring and sharing people’s heartbreak stories and symbolic possessions has been so successful that there are pop-ups around the world.
…What if we think about the relationships with our own selves? What are our stories?
Our internal story is integral in shaping our worldview and how we ascribe meanings to the world. There are joyful stories that ease sorrow, as well as those that emphasise powerlessness. As human beings, we love sharing our memories and stories to one another. We constantly communicate knowledge, messages, beliefs and values through storytelling. We learn about others’ happiness and despair.
As story-tellers, you feel empowered and perhaps therapeutic as you probably have discovered more about yourselves. As story-receivers/listeners, we feel a sense of personal intimacy when knowing others’ stories. Look at the Humans of New York and Human Library initiatives around the world.
In the context of therapy, storytelling can help people change their perspectives of the historical trauma; and help reclaim one’s identity. It has also been used in trauma-based therapy in conflict settings among refugees and women who have experienced gender-based violence and their voices being silenced.
However, some people may feel uncomfortable when thinking about their stories. They may find it difficult and even distressing when revisiting the powerful memories and feelings. Hence, they tend to avoid, suppress or repress them.
Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone deserves a chance to tell their story.
…What if we use some tools/ media to facilitate the story-telling process? What if we use objects as the tool to find stories to hold new narratives of our worlds?
What if there’s a museum that collected and displayed the relics of our souls, and contained the legacy and testimony of our memories of hope and grief? What if there was a haven for everyone’s objects, memories, and emotions? What if there was a place where you can let go, revisit, reflect, and express yourselves; a place to console, to empower others? What if we shifted the focus of social issues such as mental health from something pathological and shameful, to a narrative of collective self-exploration and memories?
Getting the website up and running has been tremendously difficult. When the idea was first pitched to a group of individuals from the business sector, they said to me, to name a few, “You are very brave to speak up. Mental health is a taboo in this society”. “I will donate to you, but it is just not my thing to relate to these people”. “I am sorry; I am not a materialistic person”. “I feel uneasy”. These comments have further reinforced the importance of the project.
What if there was a unified and systematic platform that transcended the differences among the public, the individuals, the professionals, and the academics? Instead, shall we focus on people’s stories, the human beings in the middle of all the disputes and injustice?
The end-goal of this project aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) – “Wellbeing”.
For the first time, The UN is recognising the importance of mental health.
Target 3.4 requests that countries: “By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.” Target 3.5 requests that countries: “Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.”
Our vision is to have a physical and virtual museum that uses storytelling through objects as the visualisation, memory association and relational tool, and categorising the stories to understand and drive social change.
If this works, imagine this concept being widened into other complex social issues. We can use objects and story-telling as a tool to express injustices such as sexism, violence, racism, poverty, unsustainability etc., things that have become authors of our own stories.
There is a need for story-telling. Story-telling is powerful in personal discovery and recovery as confirmed from research. Using stories as an alternative narrative to can help re-construct one’s identity and de-pathologise mental health issues. Some people do not know the appropriate channels to voice their struggles anonymously.
There is a need for creative story-telling and expression. Objects have been used as a form of story-telling for people who broke up, sex workers, homeless people, and older adults, but we have not heard anyone who uses it for mental health.
There is a need for story-listening. There are lots of blogs and forums on mental health but they are scattered and not themed. General public may not be motivated to search and read them one by one. With a unified platform of story collection using objects, public can view the stories and objects and can relate to them. This is easier for the public to understand as drawings can be too abstract for some. With this idea coming live, it can help break down stigma and gives new meanings to the objects.
There is a need for research and cross-disciplinary work. This project has various theoretical underpinnings that span across narrative psychology, anthropology, museum heritage studies (on object handling) and creative writing. Voices and stories are more powerful when they are presented in one platform. However, very little research has been conducted on this form of recovery-focused expression. This project can form the basis for this type of research.
Mental health is everyone’s business. We hope that this will improve the contributor’s wellbeing by writing the stories in a different way, and the public can understand them and one another better.