18 September 2020

Online art exhibition celebrates creative talents of people with mental health conditions

MD Hidden Hands Collage

Artwork inspired by collections in museums and art galleries and created by people with mental health conditions is featuring in an online exhibition.

The Fresh Art project, which is a partnership between Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust, Creativity Works, Bath Museums Partnership and Bath Mind, aims to harness the power of creativity to make a difference to the lives of people who have been experiencing mental health conditions. 

The challenge of lockdown has not stopped people with mental health conditions being creative and using art as therapy. In normal circumstances participants meet for two hours a week in museums around Bath as part of a 12-week programme. But this year the programme has been delivered virtually because the COVID-19 pandemic forced museums to close. The participants worked online with museum staff and artists to create artwork inspired by museum collections.

Christina Greenland, Bath and North East Somerset Therapies Team Manager, at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, said: "It's great that we have been able to continue the Fresh Arts programme this year, despite the museums being closed. The arts can really help us make sense of our experiences in life, whether that's in therapy, making things at home, working together or looking at art with others in the community. Many people referred to mental health services find that engaging in the arts is an important part of their recovery as it can offer time and space for reflection, as well as build confidence and provide a social pathway. The arts community in BANES, including the museum and galleries, are a fantastic resource for us."

One of the participants from the project said: ''I want to thank everyone at Fresh Art for their support. Being part of the project has made a real difference to my life. It has been a 'lifeline' to me, and I want to thank Fresh Art for the opportunities it has given me.''

In celebration of the project, images of the work created are now being displayed in an online exhibition which can be viewed here

Louise Campion, Pathways to Wellbeing Manager at the Holburne Museum said: "Everyone in our Museums' Partnership has been delighted that Fresh Art has been able to continue during lockdown. Despite the doors being closed, we've been able to use our collections and objects to inspire creativity and curiosity when people needed it, perhaps more than ever! The power of historical objects to inspire and connect becomes even more poignant and precious when we aren't able to meet in the museums."

Paul Rimmer, from Bath Mind, who supported people throughout the course, said: "It's been fantastic that, even during lockdown, Fresh Arts has been able to continue inspiring all involved, enriching lives when needed most."

All work featured in the online exhibition will be displayed on walls across AWP's buildings to enhance the clinical environment for staff, patients and visitors to enjoy.

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