What would it mean to ‘queer’ creative health? Why might we need to, and, if so, how? I was given the opportunity to first delve into these questions through a PhD scholarship I completed in 2019. My literature review explored longer histories of the field of Arts in Health as part of exploring its relationship to people and place.
At a recent WhatNext? meeting the cultural thinker Suzanne Alleyne asked this question of Arts Minister Lord Parkinson:
"As we know, there is a very small subset of society that holds power in the publicly funded arts sector. Research shows that human beings fundamentally don’t like change, and that often those in power do not want to share it with those who don’t have access to it. What do you think the steps are that we need to take together to change this?"
" I found myself in a meditative state and at ease. As the trip progressed, I became more decisive in the way I painted and through continual application, found a consistent visual language coming to the fore where decisions would be more intuitive and certain."
I have written for as long as I can remember. Short stories created aged ten, fictionalising life or fantasy worlds to escape to. A weekly journal scrawled in an exercise book, started aged thirteen, kept up throughout my life. A regular outpouring of emotion, record keeping and analysis.
" Part of life is to nurture our creative needs. This has also become a coping mechanism and a self-soothing technique which has been extremely helpful during times of difficulty and now perhaps even more so with the Coronavirus lockdown."
Maybe someone who sees my work will relate to it because of their own personal experience and notice what I am trying to do in reflecting the sense of humanity in context of this devastating illness. To tell the world that old people matter, and they are reminders that one day we will be them too. We owe them our love, dignity and respect.
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’ve never studied art; I come from a medical background and did a PhD in microbiology. My world was about numbers, statistics, looking for tried and tested patterns, and grouping things into distinct categories. Absolutely these approaches have a place, and are especially essential when needing to rapidly process large amounts of information in high risk environments. But it didn’t give me a good way to process my inner world of chaotic and conflicting thoughts and feelings. Thankfully illustration did.
I truly believe that when we normalise difference we enter a much more just and equal world. We all have mental health, that’s a fact - so shouldn’t we all acknowledge this hidden truth, accept that we might have mental ill health at some point and stop being afraid of the unknown?
I first found creativity at the age of 25 – I had moved to a new town to be with my boyfriend but knew no one and nothing. I had experienced high anxiety in the past but understood now that if I didn’t keep my time and my mind occupied I wouldn’t survive and the move would be pointless. So that’s what I did.
' I enjoy creating a well-making space in my mother’s home where both my mother and I can breathe, de-stress, and attend to self-care through acts of creativity.' A reflective blog from artist/researcher and carer Mah Rana exploring the power of creating well-making spaces in unsettling times.
…if you’ve self-isolated over years as I’ve done, you do slow down to a very, very different pace.
The following is an interview with Gilly Angell, a founding member of the LENS group, from 31 March 2020
This story shares how The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge are working together with partners and their local visually impaired community to enable more meaningful access to creative and cultural experiences to boost wellbeing, raise awareness and create a more inclusive space.
Kate Smith is an award-winning children’s illustrator/designer and a workshop leader, who has a diagnosis of ‘Acute and transient Psychotic Disorder’ which was triggered by stress and anxiety in 2005. Kate was encouraged to make Christmas cards by an Occupational Therapist from the Early Intervention Service in Derbyshire as a coping strategy.
This story begins with an introduction from Naomi, who shares with us her experiences of being a full-time carer, Mum, nurse and painter and why now is the right time to share her story and her artwork.
Excerpts from Beyond The Illness, Art n’ the Human experience by Shanali Perera, MBBS MRCP
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance” ~ Aristotle
A story by Carole Fotheringham
This is a story about how cultural activities are contributing to healing and enriching my life after a life threatening illness. How it seems culture, friendship and laughter have the ability to cure all.
A story by Dave Logan, Chair of Parkinson’s UK – Swindon & District Branch, who has lived with Parkinson’s for sixteen years.
I have had Parkinson’s for over 15 years and celebrated my 70th birthday this July. I have been lucky in that the progressive nature of my Parkinson’s has been slow.
I spun a web and wrapped it round my life;
fine spider silk: the type we’re taught to make.
A sticky weave of working mum and wife;
bespoke design – its cords would never break.
High praise I netted in for such rich yarn;
a gossamer of love cocooned my home,
a strategist at work, a queen of charm;
The Beaney’s Power of the Object programme – a dementia & social isolation story
It’s been important to both me and my mum because it’s given Mum the opportunity to come out and do something constructive and it seems to me that she gets some kind of stimulation that lasts for 2 or 3 days afterwards.
Paul Langley, Carer
My practice and initial investigation was a coping strategy to enhance my quality of life throughout the long wait for diagnosis and therefore manage anxiety, uncertainty and the medical side effects of treatment, including my experience of itch.