Well-being through creative activity

Let me tell you a story…………….

…………………..so a couple read in the local paper about a place called The Factory described as a cultural and creative hub. They decide to go and take a look and visit. On arriving the first thing they see is a sign saying “S2C Exhibition Open” so they go in and see a man there laying out pictures on a table to dry. They smile and start wandering around the gallery looking at the artwork on the wall. Some of the art is amazing and they recognise one or two as being by local artists. Some they are not as sure about. They turn to look at the pictures that have been laid out to dry. “Oh” say on of the couple “do you do art classes for children” to the man there. He smiles, “No, we are a charity working with vulnerable adults using creativity.” The couple look at each other unsure “This one does look a bit like a kids done it”.

After a brief pause and a sigh the man there smile again and replies “No, that was done by a service user with Parkinson’s, they can barely hold a pencil properly and are unable to guide their hand well without the help of a carer, this one was done by a person who is bi-polar and a little manic at the moment, this one was done by someone who has been suicidal and self harming in recent times, this person is in chronic continuous pain and this one was by an individual who is profoundly Deaf and was so isolated from the community they became depressed.”

The couple look at each other and one says “Wow, they are beautiful”. They look round the rest of the exhibition and leave.

True story (mostly- protecting identities etc….) and the moral is, well you know, find out about what you are looking at, book covers…..

Some of the beautiful work by some of the people using Unit 31 this week:


The group were being inspired by the artwork of Sonia Delauney. In particular her circle based artwork. We drew overlapping circles and lines and coloured in the shapes created.



The group started today by looking at a range of examples showing images of the tree of life. From Celtic designs to Gustav Klimt. Then, of course, they created their own.

Thursday Group

The group today were working to create small flags with positive messages. We used materials from pattern books then sewed and glued or painted designs on. Finally we sewed the top to form a closed hole along the width to thread a string for hanging. It was a very positive session with lots of laughter and support.



The DeafArt Group were working on collages of magazine pictures. Trying go combine different images to make new and interesting combinations.







Just because you are not an “Artist” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be creative!

It is quite right that people look at the work of an artist and are moved by the emotion of a picture, are amazed by the detail and accuracy, are stunned by the colours and tones, get blown away by the use of light and texture. A great piece of art by an artist is worth every penny of the price for the skill, effort and emotion they put into the work. However, that should not mean that they immediately dismiss any creative efforts they might undertake.

I often feel that people are put off coming along to Space2Create by this undertone of “you can’t do art if you not an artist”. This is a shame because everything we do at Space2Create is very accessible and can be done by anyone. In denying themselves the opportunity to create they also miss out on all the other benefits too!

When people do come to S2C there is often an attitude to overcome of everything they produce being worthless or not good enough. I often hear the phrase “It doesn’t even look like….” or “mine’s rubbish”. If we can get over that then suddenly they really do begin to reap the benefits. It is often interesting to look at the work of artists from the past. It is almost like people have been looking at art with blinkers on, they don’t actually see the image. When you realise that a lot off art is about representing and not about reproducing then it becomes easier to view your own artwork in terms of representing. When the penny drops and they get it, suddenly they jump in confidence, become more outgoing and enthusiastic and are willing to take risks and try things out.

Over time this moves itself from the paper and into real life.

I often wonder how it is that we have become so dismissive of being creative. People often blame schools but the thing to remember about education up to 18 is that it is about measurable results. It imposes standards and levels on a subject like art and in doing so those who can’t meet those criteria are labelled as not being artistic. Somehow and in some way we need to preserve the love of creating in those that are not going to be artists. Trust me, there is nothing wrong with having a play with some pencils or paint and whatever you produce is fine. It is YOUR artwork.

This week at S2C (by a lot of people who are not professional artists but are artists in their own right!)


The group today were experimenting with collagraphs. This involves collaging onto card then using this as a printing plate. We used a wide range of materials stuck down on card then inked them up and printed from them to produce some interesting results.


The group looked at Ben Nicholson still life and abstract that were cubist in style. They drew simple images with overlapping boxes over then painted the sections created. They also stuck on small magazine pictures as part of the image.

Thursday Group

A wide range of projects today. Some zentangle, doll making, sewing, paper boats, crotia and more collagraphing. Keeps us on our goes!


The DeafArt Group had a go at decalcomania, like ink blots. USO g a rylic paint they painted a design on half a folded sheet then folded it over to print on the blank side. Some very interesting results.


The art of surviving……..

I often go on about the benefits of being creative. It’s a strategy and like many strategies it works for some and not for others. I often look at creative activity as a kind of imitation of life. An activity that can emulate aspects of the day to day psychology that allows us to function in society. People suffering with mental health or any illness can often feel isolated, they lose confidence and they look inwards. I know I always feel that at my worst I had unlearned all the toolkit of social interaction and the ability to adapt needed to function in the world.

Getting involved in creativity in a group is not easy. If your ill, walking into a strange place and then showing yourself on paper in a room full of strangers is not at all easy. That’s why the work S2C does on the Kentmere Ward is important, it means there is a familiar face when people come to the unit. It is also why all our sessions at S2C are open, friendly and easy going.

Taking risks, being unafraid to experiment and learn from your mistakes, being allowed to get it wrong and sometimes being surprised by the outcomes. Laughing, talking, crying. Making friends, supporting and being supported, sharing, helping, learning, talking, drinking coffee, eating biscuits. Growing, building resilience and accepting that things don’t always work out, learning to deal with things that go wrong. Taking responsibility for yourself and others. Its all there in sessions. It is part of being human and a part of society but it is stuff that can get lost when your ill.

So that’s what we do at S2C. We have fun, creative, supportive drop in sessions with tea and coffee and biscuits and talking and laughing and crying. We are there for each other and we help people achieve. When they want to and are ready we can give them some responsibility and help them move forwards. We are not a cure. We are a step up on the way back to life or just a prop to help people cope.

Some of the creativity this week at S2C:


The WellArt Group looked at the games played by surrealists artists to inspire artworks. First Exquisite Corpse. A group takes turns drawing sections of a figure only seeing their bit. When revealed the figure is very surreal. Then we tried Decalcamania. Putting paint on one half of a paper and folding to print. We then tried developing these images by adding to the blots.

Thursday Group

A quiet group today with some doing their own thing, some sat and read, while some tried the activity. This involved cutting a shape in card, tracing it onto a fabric background. Then cut slats in one direction on the fabric and slice the card up the opposite way. Then weave the card through the fabric.


The group were creating animal drawings to start with just using straight lines either from scratch or by going over a photocopy with a pen and ruler. Then they added other shapes related to their animal along with some Kandisky style backgrounds to create very colourful images.


The DeafArt Group were creating wax relief pictures. Drawing in white on white paper then using colour washes to reveal the pictures.

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