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Exhibition in Worcester showcases work of former mental health patients
ARTISTS battling metal illness have helped drive out their inner demons for the largest exhibition of its kind ever held in Worcester – and now hope for a permanent platform for their talents.
The 10th anniversary celebration exhibition was launched in the city to mark World Mental Health Day yesterday.
More than 200 works of art were on display as part of a scheme to help aid recovery and banish the stigma which still clings to forms of mental ill health.
Artists battling a range of conditions from psychosis to anxiety and from depression and bipolar disorder to schizophrenia and eating disorders exhibited their work at the University of Worcester’s Cotswold Gallery, Worcester Arts Workshop in Sansome Place, Barbourne Health Centre, the Hive and Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum.
Artists have produced a range of work including landscapes, portraits, abstract work, photography, mixed media and textiles.
The exhibition has been organised by Art in Minds (AIMs), a project of Shrub Hill Workshop which aims to provide a platform for the talents of artists.
Artist Jayne Gaze, a founder member of AIMs, with Velma Johnson, has struggled with post-natal depression herself and understands first-hand the therapeutic, as well as the aesthetic value of art.
She said: “There is concrete proof that the arts, in all its forms, be it the visual arts, dance, theatre, literature or music is a hugely powerful and cost effective tool for recovery.”
AIMs has now become a registered charity with support from a local family charity and is scheduled to become more independent of the workshop.
Mother-of-two Lucy Jones, of Malvern Link, works with felt, having been taught to sew by her mother and grandmother.
The 43-year-old battles bipolar disorder, also called manic depression, which leads to extreme swings of mood from euphoria to episodes of extreme depression.
She discovered the art of felt-making when she was pregnant with her daughter who is now 17.
Exhibiting for the first time, she said: “It has taken me until I was in my 40s to find the courage to put my work out there for scrutiny.
“I’m getting good feedback which is a huge confidence booster.
“Jayne Gaze is an amazing woman who gives you that sense of giving it a go.
“I would not have dreamt of doing this 10 years ago.
“Prejudice is beginning to break down, but we’re certainly not there yet.
“It has meant the absolute world to me to be able to put my work out there.
“The biggest problem is isolation.”
Toby Whittaker, aged 35, of Worcester city centre, who has struggled with clinical depression since he was 14, uses a combination of oil paintings and digital collage to create striking images.
He said: “It has helped me reconnect with life after my breakdown in 2007.”
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