Breathing Space

I’m really looking forward to facilitating a new Creativity and Wellbeing course with Katja Stiller from Valley and Vale Arts. We will be delivering person-centred creative sessions that will combine mindfulness exercises for relaxation with a range of art forms. For people who are in the process of recovery from mental health challenges such as anxiety or depression, these sessions can help to build confidence, make friends and facilitate self-expression in a supportive space.

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A Brief History of Healing

Opening of the sister exhibition at Hearth Gallery, Llandough.  See ArcadeCampfa website for more details.

A Brief History of Healing is a collaborative partnership project between ArcadeCampfa, the Cardiff and Vale University Health board and visual artist and mental health service user Gail Howard. For the last two months Gail and artist/writer Sarah Featherstone have been working with patients, staff and visitors to University Hospital Llandough running basket weaving, creative writing and printmaking sessions via a repurposed drugs trolley. Through dialogue and art making A Brief History of Healing traces the patient narrative, focusing on the value of a therapeutic environment, particularly within an institutional context.

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With the arrival of Social Prescribing on the NHS and in recognition of the value of cultural, creative, social and physical activity in relation to our health, BHoH invited visitors to add their own recommendations for meaningful activity/a therapeutic environment in relation to our wellbeing.

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The split site show will be open at the Hearth Gallery, University Hospital Llandough from 12 – 30 September.

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An old drugs trolley has been repurposed to dispense art making & utopian prescriptions.

The trolley has been adapted and fitted with printmaking equipment including a set of brass letters to print words and phrases. Gail Howard and I are delivering pop-up printmaking and basket weaving sessions around the hospital.

The aim of the project is to highlight the value of art making in relation to our health. Many staff, visitors and patients have been filling out alternative prescriptions…

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…and printing their words.

The results will be displayed in the Hearth Gallery, Llandough, and Arcade-Campfa in September. The project ‘A Brief History of Healing’ is funded by Arts Council Wales.

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Breathing Space

Recently, I have been working with the charity Valley and Vale Arts on their Social Prescribing project Breathing Space in Pontypridd.

It is a free, weekly, person-centred creative session for adults experiencing stress, anxiety and/or depression. Short mindfulness exercises help individuals to relax and find their creative flow. The work created can be about a real life experience or abstract. Meeting other people with similar experiences helps group members to not feel judged or isolated. In the sessions participants become artists, and leave their diagnosis behind, have fun and remember who they still are. It offers a strength-based approach with the focus on wellness. The group supports each other in finding their own solutions, and by celebrating each other’s success.

 

 

This week, we created a collaborative poem, each participant contributing a line after free-writing on the theme of Journeys.

Challenges, meeting new people

In my heart I feel the forest call me

Emotional through life with many ups and downs

today will be OK.

Calmness, support and love.

Going there to find here

Through falling, I see your light.

I’m listening to my heart.

I’m learning that the journey never ends

because the journey is life.

Sometimes we don’t know the way ahead,

but we keep moving. Step by step.

 

 

 

Intuitive Collages

In this week’s Creative Wellbeing session, I asked participants to look though piles of old magazines, choosing and cutting out images that appealed to them, while trying not to think too much about why. The collection of images and/or words, could then be arranged and stuck down in a way that is pleasing to each individual.

One participant kindly brought in a pile of wallpaper samplers she got free from a home store. Being of light plywood, these were ideal for creating the collages on, and provided a bold background that may or may not have influenced the choice of images.

 

Samples of participants’ collages

The cutting and gluing and arranging of images was conducive to relaxation and general discussion, whereas going straight into a writing exercise can be inhibiting. Time seemed to pass remarkably fast, or rather, was forgotten about; a good sign of absorption and enjoyment.

Towards the end of the session, participants reflected on how they felt about the images chosen when they were assembled, and how themes had emerged, sometimes quite surprising, and sometimes providing fresh ways of looking at the self. It was suggested that the collages could be added to, and reformatted over time, and agreed that they would make a great stimulus for free writing if there had been time.

 

Printmaking in the Hub

United Welsh Housing invited me to run some printmaking sessions centred around the theme of reconnecting with loved ones through card-making. Libraries in Llanrumney and Ely are transforming into multi-purpose hubs, with a view to connecting and supporting the local community, and we were able to encourage service users of all ages who were there to access other services, to give the printmaking a try.

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Participants reported that they found the process of creating their own card designs, inking them up and printing them, very satisfying.

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Some of the cards, created using styrofoam pizza bases, etched into and cut out.

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Alchemy and Healing

Catherine Lewis has taken over the gallery 1a Inverness Place,  an empty shop, as part of her wellspace residency.

Cat works with materials that she gathers from her local environment  –  natural, local plant materials, and uses sustainable print processes and recycled cloths.

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Catherine had collected water and wood from a nearby healing well site, and was using it as part of the residency, encouraging visitors to draw and write using her wonderful inks made from walnuts, beetroot, hibiscous, turmeric.

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The spring, which still exists at The Oval and which was the principal reason for the arrival of St. Isan in the area in 535AD, is known as Ffynnon Llandennis. Ffynnon Llandennis is one of a number of healing springs in Cardiff which were considered to be holy and endowed with powers of healing…

‘It rises out of the soil with great force, and immediately forms a pool of considerable size, which is overhung with trees, and teems with aquatic growths of various kinds. The scene is one of wild and romantic beauty…’ (John Hobson Mathews, 19C city archivist).

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The well-tree dressing has echoes of the clootie well tradition, which are places of pilgrimage in Celtic areas. Strips of white cloth or rags are tied to the branches of the tree as part of a healing ritual.

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Catherine has created a well-ness space for slow making and recovery; a space that houses her urban ink making lab, using the well water and materials found whilst walking between the well sites and the gallery. She invites visitors to bring ink ingredients to her and also donations of old bottles to store ingredients and finished inks.