Tracy Douthwaite, who runs mental health workshops at Bell House, reminds us (via Picasso) that ‘Art washes the soul from the dust of everyday life’. And at Bell House our souls were bathed by an event run with Creative Voices Mind, a South London collective of artists who discussed mental health and challenge stigma through creativity at Bell House.
Sarah Hollebon (@sarah_hollebon) explores mental health through fashion and textile design. Clothes provide expression, disguise, protection, they are not permanent, they can be multi-layered – a interesting medium through which to explore the challenges of mental health. A skirt that represents anxiety flares up, and when one side of the hem has pressure applied, the other side of the hem shoots up – anxiety can be suppressed, but it will pop up at another unexpected point.
Reclaiming a discarded helium cannister, painted gold and rising suspended above a runway of lights, David Neita (@poetrylawyer) uses it as a metaphor for the Windrush Generation. Like a helium cannister they have given energy and risen up so many, and Neita wants his artwork ‘Golden Launch’ to raise them up again and celebrate their contribution to Britain.
From illustration to poetry to new businesses, all the contributors found their mental health informing their work – but the relationship goes both ways, and their creative work impacts on their mental health. There’s no doubt that creativity and expression can help process difficult thoughts and emotions. As Helen Hayes MP noted at the end, the performances were moving and empowering, but also often contained humour and light-heartedness, helping to normalise the conversation around mental health, so that true parity of esteem can be achieved between mental and physical health.
The exhibition and performances from Creative Voices Mind were raising money both for Bell House and MQ – a mental health research charity. Our next mental health event is and our next performance event is.