While at doing the internship at Shape I volunteered at Core Arts in Homerton they are a creative college for adults with mental health problems. They run classes in art, music, writing and drama. I real love it there they have a great infrastructure. People are treated as artists first the focus is on making work not on therapy. At Core being engaged in the process is what is therapeutic and the root to recovery and engaging with others. I went on their Friday tour and knew I had to work there. My favourite place is the art rooms the walls are covered in paintings and prints. It smells of oil paint and printing ink. I particularly loved the ceramics class it was pretty manic with the tutor constantly on the go helping everyone. My role there was to help out but most of the time I just joined in and made work alongside the members. There is a pretty fuzzy line between members, staff and volunteers. All are on an equal footing the most important thing is creating a safe environment there is a clear vulnerable adults policy which holds the whole system together.
I would love to set up something similar in Bristol. Every city in Britain needs a place like this. Unfortunately they are having big changes to their funding which will effect the service they can offer. As the manager said they are the most cost effective service in terms of keeping people well and moving on from psychiatric services. The people there are great it is a haven for eccentrics and those thinking outside the box. What is wonderful is that people of different abilities work side by side so an amazing portrait painter will work next to someone with a simpler style. For me it is art in action using art to transform people’s lives to give them a new identity and role in life. After three years at art school it was like being able to breathe again. To get away from judgement, shame and pressure to play and be free. Through this freedom people developed their own style and ways of working. One guy who had been in a successful band, made a psychedelic dinosaur and is working on a series of space plates. It was hard to leave I felt so at home their it brought together my passion for arts with my mental health experience. It was really helpful to see how an organisation like that could work. The next step is bringing together people to set up something similar in Bristol.
Check out their website here.