Blog: Creativity, Mental Health and Wellbeing
We know that creativity is really useful for thinking through difficult ideas, and can help us to cope and manage during harder times.
Read the latest blog from two of our team members Katie Mitchell and Posy Jowett, as they share their tips on some of the ways in which you can look after yourself and your loved ones – exploring ideas around navigating the unfamiliar, working through change and uncertainty, and expressing our feelings.
Read the blog here: https://sunderlandculture.org.uk/about-us/blog/24904/
Blog: Lucy Garnett
Washington Mind’s Young People’s Project offer 1-1 counselling and groupwork for 11-25 year olds who live within the City of Sunderland. You can contact them on 01914178043 if you need to talk. Find out about their work at www.washingtonmind.org.uk
Blog: Frank Styles
Hi my name is Frank Styles and I am a spray painter/mural artist.
Where do you live?
I have lived and worked in Sunderland since 2003. Most of my murals can be found dotted about Sunderland from the East End to Silksworth, North Hylton to Hetton. I do branch out from Sunderland, though as a lot of my work is through word of mouth its been mostly around the North East. With this latest project in London I’m looking forward to doing more things further afield.
Tell us what creativity means to you:
Creativity is a very human thing, its what sets us apart from most other animals. How can I improve something? How can I make something more beautiful, more functional? Creativity for me simply does not stop. Even when I am not painting I am cooking, inventing new recipes, trying out new techniques or learning new DIY skills often using reclaimed materials. When painting I am always trying out new techniques and effects in creating imagery, learning new photography or filming techniques, 3D image manipulation etc.
Tell us about your recent mental health project:
Mind (the mental health charity) got in touch a while back when I was commissioned to paint Sunderland’s best ever goal scored by Carlos Edwards. This was a one day commission and it was painted on the side of ALS near the Stadium. It was part of a project featuring 6 different clubs in the EFL and a photo of the work was exhibited in London. I went down and met Carlos himself, a real nice guy who gave his time to come and support the event. Anyway, this put me in touch with Mind and when they had an opportunity to provide the artwork for the Spanish Steps at Wembley, they added me to the list of artists invited to tender for artwork.
I jumped at the chance as not only is it a great place to showcase my work, try something new (its a vinyl artwork not a painting), it’s also a cause close to my heart as my brother passed away a few years ago. He had suffered with severe mental health issues. So, I wrote out a tender and really did my homework and spelled out my ideas for the artwork. Then, they picked me! So off to London I went.
Image: Carlos Edwards project
I had many ideas for the steps but the one that really stuck was using the 1 in 4 statistic, that approx 1 in 4 people have had experience with mental health problems. There are 12 flights of stairs in 4 rows of 3. So my idea was to take portraits of football fans and have 1 in 4 of them viewed at a different perspective, the 3 are best viewed from the adjacent steps.
Photographing portraits was a new thing for me, I invested in a fold up green screen budget soft box, bought a second hand camera body, borrowed a lens (Thanks Mud!), and set off taking some snaps. I knew what I was looking for as I know how I liked to light a painting subject but actually photographing people and looking like I knew what I was doing was a little nerve racking.
I listened to a lot of peoples experiences with mental health and would say that more than 1 in 4 of the people I spoke to had something to say on the matter. It’s interesting listening to peoples stories and different methods of copying with it. Some of the best advice to come out was that it’s OK not to be OK and chances are there’re people who are going through something similar to what you are going through and you can find someone to talk to it about and realise that you are not alone.
I wanted this artwork to be thought provoking but also positive and I just had to get some painting in there so I painted 2 abstracts on wood using acrylic and spray paint, I used these images as backgrounds and had the colours running through the faces.
How do you maintain good mental health?
Personally I do suffered with mild depression from time to time. Its nothing like some people go through but sometimes its bad enough to keep from from going out or starting painting. Its like a voice in my head that says “you are not good enough”, “you’re wasting your time” etc. It is very hard to work creatively through these times. I have found that for me, getting exercise really makes a difference. It’s doubly hard to get out there when feeling depressed, that’s the hardest step. BUT after getting home from a 15 mile bike ride or a 10 min dip in the North Sea, the endorphins kick in and really help me to naturally relax.
A positive phrase that you love:
This written on a wooden wall hanging at my Grandmas when I was a kid:
Smile a while, and when you smile, another smiles.
And life is worthwhile, when you smile!
- Blog: Susanne Burns
Blog: How is creativity shaping Sunderland’s mental health services?
“Being creative gives us a chance to express our feelings & reflect on them”
In our latest blog post, Jenny Carter of Washington Mind’s Young Peoples Project talks about creativity as self-care & how that idea informs her work with young people to shape mental health services in Sunderland.
Blog: How can creativity and community help you to thrive?
Research has shown that regular creative activity is linked to positive psychological functioning, while engagement with arts and heritage is associated with improved life satisfaction. This can have a number of dimensions, from the stress-reducing meditative quality of creative activities, to the social support derived from being part of a creative group.
Julia Wysocka of the International Community Organisation of Sunderland (ICOS) shares with us some of the approaches she uses to stimulate her own mindful creativity, and also tells us about the Eastern European Women’s Group whose programme of health and wellbeing activities includes creative workshops.