Art & Soul first launched as “We can draw!” a programme of art exhibitions and workshops for adults with physical and mental health needs, led and founded by Maggie Hughes. Early workshops we held at the Stables, Orleans House Gallery, Twickenham. In 1998, Art & Soul’s current Chair Paul Matthews changed the name of the group to ‘Art & Soul’ and coordinated an exhibition of artwork by patients of the Royal Neurological Hospital and members of a mental health centre based in Chiswick.
Following the success of the 1998 show, which included a guest appearance by the Actress Alison Steadman, Art & Soul formed as a non-profit organisation, opened a new bank account and applied for local funding. Art & Soul’s 1999 exhibition moved From Orleans House Gallery to Teddington’s Landmark Arts Centre with funding that enabled us to relaunch the workshop programme. The reach of the exhibition extended to include all of Richmond borough’s mental health centres and a team of 11 volunteers collected and hung 274 pieces artwork, and welcomed over 300 guests to the private view. At the end of the 1999 show, Paul Matthews stepped down to be replaced by the exhibition’s coordinator Julia Ruppert and Rachel Tranter, its curator as Co-Chairs. Thereafter, Art & Soul settled into Orleans House Gallery, where its workshops and exhibitions continued to thrive under Julia, an HCPC registered art therapist and Rachel who became Richmond Borough’s Head of Arts.
Since Art & Soul’s 1998 beginnings, a dedicated team of staff and volunteers have coordinated a biennial exhibition of artwork as well as annual pop-up exhibitions. Our arts workshops gradually grew from 2-3 per year to weekly core group activities as well as outreach programmes. To date, we have facilitated hundreds of arts for wellbeing workshops and welcomed thousands of visitors to our shows. In June 2017, Art & Soul became a registered charity (1173268).
Art & Soul’s current Trustees include Rachel Tranter, Liz Sokoski, Betsy Lewis-Holmes, Karen Ang and Emma Hetherington.