CSA survivor, Arts Activist and Artistic Director, Viv Gordon, speaks to us about how arts and social justice informs their day to day life. Viv will be taking part in one of our panel discussions at the National Conference in October.
Our Regional Champion and Age Friendly Creative Manager for Age UK Oxfordshire, Helen Foundation, shares a typical day with us. Helen is part of the Creative Ageing Lived Experience Network (CALEN), who will be speaking at this years conference.
Ahead of their workshop as part of the Making Change national conference in October, Artist and Performing Recovery magazine editorial board member leon clowes talks us through a day in their working life.
So far, no two days at CHWA have been the same, which I really like. There’s a mixture of operational, creative and strategic tasks and it really helps me use every part of my brain. Right now I’m heavily focused on organising the conference, which involves a lot of collaboration with partners and suppliers, so there’s usually at least one zoom call each day.
My great-grandmother was admitted to an asylum around 1910, and I never found out why, or what her life in the institution was like. What I discovered, baffled me; I came across a wide range of recreations offered to patients as part of a new treatment regime, which really challenged my perception of asylums and their patients.
Following the birth of her son in 2014, Kheyla founded Mother Nature’s Recipes, a company that focuses on making room for the necessity of self-care in motherhood from a holistic perspective. She also co-founds Birthing In Colour, a charitable organisation that creates safe spaces online for black and brown birthing bodies and volunteers as a Peer Supporter for the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers.
Today I have been out on my bike. It is almost a year ago since I made a commitment to myself to go out for a ride every day that I possibly could, and to write something about what I discovered on my ride. The same ride, a different journey, every day, for a year.
After working in the voluntary and public sector as project and change manager for nearly three decades I decided to fully immerse myself in my art practice. After a number of years of research based studio practice (sculpture & installation) I became increasing committed to socially engaged art.
During the last 15 years my work has centred around my health as I grow older. I’ve documented and interpreted my medical notes/ scans and worked alongside my surgeon in providing evidence for art/creative acts having benefits to healing and wellbeing.
My teens were spent volunteering in a number of different places where I had the chance to explore the relevance of music within care and this led me to set up Music as Therapy in 1995 and to train as a music therapist myself.
Before living my current reality of creative work and aspirations, I had a scientific background, as I was en route to becoming a doctor, and my motto for my life was “I want to live a life of helping people”. However, I found more fulfilment in approaching this life motto from a creative & arts centred approach.
I was thrilled to be asked to join the board in May 2020! Prior to joining, I had multiple touchpoints with CHWA, first connected with the organisation when I attended the National Conference, ‘Cultures of Health and Wellbeing,’ at the Great North Museum in March 2019. Inspired by the attendees and speakers, I was keen to make a formal connection with CHWA and was introduced to Victoria in 2019 through a colleague at Nesta. It became clear very quickly that the CHWA’s objectives and values were aligned with my passions and past experience building partnerships between community-based arts organisations and health systems in the US
We’re planning the launch event and catching up on the related social media campaign #MyLineInTheSand that invites people to post words of hope, rage and solidarity to stand with survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). We’re busy contacting anyone and everyone who can help to promote the work - arts colleagues, survivor charities and survivor artists, activists and academics.
I have been in art and wellbeing practice for a long time. Often my work has elements that hope to bring to discussing wellbeing. But to be more precise I was part of a network meeting at Fiztwilliam Museum Cambridge in 2017, organised by Culture Health & Wellbeing Alliance, where I leant about the work that has been done in the East region and got to meet locals who were interested and/or working already in the health and art sector.
Although trained as a clinical psychologist, I became interested in the therapeutic value of music a few years ago when I began learning indian raga singing. This is a very meditative spiritual style of singing requiring use of breathing control, focus on keeping the voice steady and being grounded within oneself.
My current path began in 2013 when I started to started to explore mindfulness and related spiritual approaches to mental health, and since then my creative output has gradually shifted towards creating things that are nurturing and healing in intention. I began running writing workshops incorporating mindfulness, plus regular meditation sessions. I have since worked with lots of organisations who share this ethos, helping people in the community to nurture their wellbeing through creativity, spirituality and generally coming together.
Working alongside NHS colleagues was enlightening... It instilled in me a desire to take the skills and knowledge I had acquired and use them more widely. This is what I love to do-to encourage people to discover their creativity and the benefits to wellbeing that accompany it.
Days can range from turbo-charged crafting session, to Makaton-fuelled sensory stories, to coding Raspberry Pis for digital interactions and engagements, to writing a research paper ...My work is broad and varied. I recall a Ted Talk by Emilie Wapnick on the term she coined – ‘multipotentialite’. This comes close to explaining my interests, skill-set and approach.
I do find when I work from home it’s easy to just keep going until you’re exhausted but I make sure I have breaks where I might just sit in the garden with a cup of tea for 5 minutes, do some yoga at lunchtime or go for a long walk at the end of the day to switch off.
Part of my role is ...supporting libraries so they can deliver health and wellbeing activities, ranging from regular groups such as colour me calm, to one off activities like wellbeing days with the library smoothie bike!
Small Planet, children's drawings, vegatable papyrus, waxed paper and recycled perspex, by Jennie Pedley. Part of Art of the Gut residency at the Quadram Institute, supported by public funding from the Arts Council England and Norfolk County Council #artofthegut
My days are spent experimenting with visuals in the studio and exploring scientific/health research ... A few days each term I work as a physiotherapist at a school for Deaf children in London. I also support a young person in my family who recently developed a couple of autoimmune diseases.
My work is very varied. I love devising...spotting gaps and devising responses...so I tend have one foot in practice and another in strategic development and advocacy, which of course always needs doing. As my friend likes to say...’the fight is real’.
As chair of Museum Detox, a network for BAME museum and heritage workers I am particularly interested in looking at wellbeing through building resilience especially for people with additional emotional labour through the intersectional identities they have.
Not sure a typical day exists, no two days are the same and that’s just how I like it! There is always a lot on - mix of supporting, mobilising and connecting with people and always the challenging of balancing inside the building and outside the museum work.
My work and career has always had an intersection between something creative and something broadly around delivering social policy outcomes – e.g. heritage and participation; the built environment and community-led regeneration; artistic learning, and of course more recently, the visual arts and wellbeing.
One day I will be setting out chairs and making tea in a hospital for a singing for breathing group, the next I’ll be at an NHS research committee approving a physio dance project, then I’ll be at Soho House meeting a potential donor for lunch. Then back to the chairs again.
It’s so important to raise our heads above the parapet when we can, to get a sense of things afresh. I do this is by going to talks or symposia on subjects I know little about but take a broader interest in. This for me can be enriching beyond words and I’m excited as today is one of those days.
"Through the making of Instrumental Health, I interviewed so many inspiring people. It really was a massively important experience for me personally as I learnt more about myself and the mental health issues I’ve struggled with in silence for so many years."
Pete's new film on anxiety (December 2020) is available here.
" I’ve been a counsellor and counselling supervisor for 25 years and in the last decade I’ve moved much more into the world of expressive arts as i think creative expression is so helpful for wellbeing and resilience."
" My PhD is about using archaeology as a form of therapy for people who are living with trauma — I’ve seen first-hand how useful and life-changing it can be, and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else."
"I started working at The Beaney 6 months ago as the Health and Wellbeing Coordinator. But, I would consider that I first started working in a role that involves working with culture, health and wellbeing when I became a Primary School teacher in 1998 - 21 years ago."
"I started working within the field back in 2008, but it has always been central to thinking as a creative, linking with my innate curiosity about how the arts and culture, particularly music and singing, can transform peoples’ health and lives."