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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Creative Journeys

In the creative wellbeing sessions this week, I asked participants to create collages and sculptures to represent aspects of themselves. Searching through old magazines for words that resonated seemed to be conducive to both reflection and supportive conversations about elements of participants’ lives. I don’t initiate these conversations, as I am not an art therapist; they arise naturally, just as elements of participant’s journeys towards wellness often manifest in the artworks. I work with individuals who may be coping with conditions such as OCD, paraplegia, anorexia, anxiety and depression, but the emphasis in these sessions is always on the creative process. The classes are a safe, confidential space to share, join in with creative activities, or just take time out from other concerns.

When the sculptures were placed together, there was great potential for narratives about the characters and objects that had emerged from the clay. Participants wrote wonderful short pieces, linking  sculptures together in often stream-of-consciousness poetry and prose which was afterwards shared.

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The Other Side

The bat told them of a flower

beginning to unfurl

so the tree walked along the ridge

with a basket to collect the petals and the tears.

When it came to the river’s edge, the tree

stood there for ten years.

One day a terrapin cracked the water’s mirror,

bearing a golden seed in its beak.

This is you, it said.

I will take you to the other side.