‘Since I’ve come I’ve met a few people and got back into creating artwork. However, I have not met anybody who wants to accompany me to English Heritage sites when the weather gets better. It’s very lonely visiting such sites as a single person!’
A few weeks into our Community Learning programme, we asked participants to share what they had experienced or gained from being apart of the weekly workshops. This is what they said,
‘Here there is no role or remit other than to explore. A creative brief is provided as a point to start you rather than a place to arrive or a criteria to meet. Expression is free and fluid. Rather than target-based choices; curiosity leads me. New possibilities take seed, come away and activity continues heart-fully once more. Calm occupation and orientation stills the body and awakens and refreshes the mind.’
‘I found a way to be expressive in my art and achieve therapeutic benefits. The staff are very supportive when you’re feeling anxious.’
‘I’ve found friendly company and no bad vibes.’
‘I learned that there is no wrong way to approach a creative task.
‘Art & Soul has given me a space to explore my deepest emotions. At the beginning I could only draw abstract forms and colours to fill the page. Now my mind is more structured, quieter, and I am able to draw for the first time in my life, things, objects, people. Today I drew birds like a child discovering something new and I thought, “This looks good!”`My mind is less cluttered with acute family stuff, which would once send me into a black hole of low self-esteem, and now seems more manageable. Life is more manageable. Yes, I get low days, but I always look forward to my Monday class, even more so now as I feel I am becoming an emerging artist, creating things from mind that for so long I allowed to be controlled by others.’
‘I’ve benefitted from meeting other people, learning new things about others and myself and being able to just ‘be’.
‘I’ve learned about different methods of painting and blending paint by seeing what other people do.’
Photographs by Stephen Graham