"The Fresh Art@ project is an incredibly inspiring project; it's a unique opportunity that allows individuals with mental health issues to engage in art, within a highly supported and relaxed setting. The museums provide inspirational environments and collections that encourage creativity and positive cultural engagement.
The Fresh Art@ project not only allows individuals to create art, but it also enables the creation of confidence, self-pride, well-being and camaraderie as a group.
My unique insight into the project, having been a participant the year before, I feel really helped me to interact and connect with the participants. I was able to be authentic about my own struggles and provide genuine compassion and understanding to participants throughout the project, as well as provide support to the lead artist and other members of the Fresh Art@ team.
During the 12 week project I was privileged to see participants challenge their fears and anxieties of taking part, to actively engaging, and finally flourishing as artists in their own right. Talking to participants and providing support and encouragement throughout the project was a privilege, one which I wholeheartedly enjoyed.
Comments from participants often made my day, 'can you help me with this?', or 'thank you for helping me today', made me feel valued and part of something special.
In fact, there were many memorable moments for me:
· Hearing from a participant that had previously always created art in black and white, how through a collection at the Holburne Museum, they were now inspired by colour, and during later sessions discovered how to create beautifully vibrant pieces of art.
· Hearing how attending the Fresh Art@ project was the highlight of one participant's week.
· Watching a participant enthusiastically flick paint at her piece of art, in order to express herself and the thoughts within.
· Being told by a participant how they had now enrolled in a local creative craft group (when before they were very much socially isolated with their mental health and fearful of joining groups) and how much they enjoyed it.
· Seeing the enthusiasm of participants at the end of the project wanting to engage more in the community and pursue other creative opportunities, with newfound confidence.
Throughout the project and more specifically with the culmination of the exhibition, I gained an immense sense of pride. Seeing the participants who'd made it through the project, standing next to their framed artwork on the walls of Bath Artists Studio was humbling. I felt proud and privileged to be a part of their journey. Likewise for me, as a volunteer I had been on my own journey over the 12 week project, developing my own confidence and self-esteem within a creative group facilitation setting.
The Fresh Arts @ project really does make a significant difference to the lives of all those involved. Not only do the participants improve their own personal well-being, they connect within their communities, build relationships and develop emotional resilience through creativity. The positivity of the project is infectious and this is what makes Fresh Arts @ so special. "
Carolyn, who was a Fresh Art participant in 2017 & then a volunteer in 2018.