Exhibition Shows How Art Can Be Therapy; the Benefits of Providing an Artistic Outlet for People with Mental Health Issues Is Underlined in a New Exhibition as WILL METCALFE Reports

The Journal (Newcastle, England), January 28, 2015 | Go to article overview

Exhibition Shows How Art Can Be Therapy; the Benefits of Providing an Artistic Outlet for People with Mental Health Issues Is Underlined in a New Exhibition as WILL METCALFE Reports


Byline: WILL METCALFE

AMENTAL health charity has launched the most high-profile exhibition in its 25-year history as part of a partnership to make a museum more accessible to the community.

No Stigma Attached, at Durham's Oriental Museum, will run until April 29 and has seen the university-run museum team up with Sunderland-based mental health charity The Art Studio.

The Art Studio is a referralbased charity which treats people with issues across the mental health spectrum from depression to even more debilitasting problems.

At a year in the making, the exhibition is not just one of the longest-running projects attempted by the group, it is also one of its most prestigious.

It is hoped thousands of visitors will view the work during its three month run.

Catherine Warwick, artist coordinator at the Art Studio, said Oriental Museum project coordinator Lauren Barnes was behind the push.

She said: "It all started through a link with one of our professional artists, who was a friend of Lauren at the Oriental Museum.

"Lauren is really trying to get the museum known out in the community.

"We, as a charity, are looking to get our members outside of the Art Sudio, and this was a perfect match really."

Members were taken on a visit to the museum from the Art Studio's Sunderland base and focused on the Indian gallery at the centre.

Catherine added: "They wanted us to produce some artwork inspired by the objects we'd seen in the Indian Gallery - that work has formed the exhibition that's just opened.

"The project has gone on for a year and around 20 of our artists have been involved.

"This is the largest project we have done over the course of the year. It's the biggest project and probably the most prestigious."

As well as providing a show-Turn to Page 22 case for the group's work which could expose it to thousands of visitors, the exhibition has helped people battling depression and other mental health issues overcome some of the challenges faced in day to day life. Helen Robson returned to the North East after being forced to leave her job as a teacher in Leeds last year due to depression.

She completed three pieces of work which were included in the exhibition - and described the experience as liberating.

She said: "I started with the group in the past three months.

"I helped Cath to set up the exhibition and put work on the walls - it was really interesting seeing the work that goes into putting an exhibition on.

"I felt quite proud to see my work up there.

"I trained as a primary school teacher and worked for 19 years, but I have a long-standing history of depression and it got worse and worse to the point I had to give up work.

"I moved back to the North East from Leeds to be closer to my family.

"I've always had a keen interest in art and they have been overjoyed by the fact that I have come here, it has made a marked difference.

"For me it's felt massive, the bene-fit has been huge."

The exhibition's name was inspired by what is considered to be the centre piece, a lotus flower made up of the casts of hands of the artists providing a play-on-words title for the exhibition based on the floral connection, but curators have also described the piece as an analogy for life with a journey through dark waters before blossoming. …

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