Mental Health and Wellbeing videos and projects

  • Hetton Carnival 2019

    One of our four Great Place projects, Unleash, explores how arts and culture can improve health and wellbeing for individuals and communities. For two years, we have delivered a health and wellbeing culture village at the wonderful Hetton Carnival, testing new and innovative ways to engage the community in the Coalfields area of the City.

    From nursing baby vegetables, to hugging hens and swinging on a trapeze, the community have embraced this project and we are now successfully developing a social prescribing programme in the area.

    Watch our short video to hear about the project, as we look back to the Carnival from June 2019!

  • Usworth Primary School: Why are arts and culture important to you?

    As part of our Uncover programme, Sunderland Culture has been working with Usworth Colliery Primary School, Columbia Grange School and Biddick Adademy, to brings arts and culture opportunities to pupils, staff and families.

    Headteacher at Usworth Colliery Primary, Gary Wright, said: “We prioritise mental wellbeing in our school. Working in partnership with Sunderland Culture has allowed our pupils to learn skills such as resilience, expression, and positive mental attitude – skills that they new now, more than ever.”

    Watch our short video of pupils and staff at Usworth primary school describing why arts and culture are important to them.

  • Celebrate Different

    Last November, Sunderland Culture’s Young Ambassador Team took over Arts Centre Washington for a very special event called Celebrate Different.

    Called the Celebrate Different Collective, Sunderland Culture’s Young Ambassadors are a team of young people aged 13-25 years old from across Sunderland who are united on a mission to get their voices heard and to inspire other young people across Sunderland.

    Having taken part in Helix Art’s Make Art Happen scheme, the Young Ambassadors went on to design, programme and then run the event – focusing on the themes of  body positivity and identity through specially commissioned artworks made by professional artists, performances, music and an exhibition.

    The event was all about learning to be proud of who YOU are as a young person, embracing your differences like super powers and celebrating those differences with other young people.

    Take a look at some of the great images from the night, below!

    This project has been developed thanks to the support of Hays Travel Foundation and Culture Bridge North East Partnership Investment Fund and in partnership with Helix Arts.

  • Arts Council Collection - Health and Wellbeing picks

    As part of our Mental Health & Wellbeing programme, our intern, Rory, has selected three works from the Arts Council Collection which explore health and wellbeing.

    The Arts Council Collection is the most widely circulated national loan collection of modern and contemporary British art. Throughout 2019-2022, Sunderland Culture has been selected to present exhibitions, projects and creative learning opportunities drawn from Arts Council Collection.

    1. Becky Beasley, Hide, 2004, Gloss fibre-based gelatin silver print 

    Becky Beasley (b.1975) is a Hastings-based artist who works in sculpture, installation and photography. Her work explores the human condition often alluding to her own battles with depression. Rather than allowing depression to dictate the way she lives, she uses these experiences to inspire her work and promote the importance of wellbeing. 

    “...mental health difficulties have been my greatest adversary and my greatest strength.” – Becky Beasley  

    The artwork Hide addresses anxiety from a place of understanding and could be said to resemble someone hiding foetal position underneath a tablecloth. The artist channels anxiety and achitecture into a show of creativity over struggle. 

    Image: Becky Beasley, Hide, 2004. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist 


    2. Caroline Achaintre ,Todo Custo, 2015 Hand-tufted wool 

    Todo Custo is a large textile artwork measuring over 3 metres high by London-based artist Caroline Achaintre (b.1969). Achaintre creates work in ‘the uncomfortable middle ground, the in-between’, blurring the boundaries of what we see and what we think we see. 

    This work in particular takes the bare minimum features to create a face, something we as humans are designed to recognise. The piece draws attention to the mistrust created by subjective perception and the way an individual’s viewpoint can seem to distort or recontextualise an image. 

    Image: Caroline AchaintreTodo Custo, 2015. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist 


    3.Charlotte Prodger, BRIDGIT, 2016, Single-channel HD video 

    Understanding yourself is a challenge, but in doing so can lead to greater wellbeing. BRIDGIT is a 32-minute video work composed of a series of short 4 minute clips filmed on an iPhone by Glasgow based artist Charlotte Prodger (b.1974).

    Prodger’s film offers us a personal account of the artist’s life experiences as she seeks to find herself, addressing themes including human connectivity to technology, place and it’s relation to time, and queer and gender identities. Filmed over the course of a year and limited by the short filming capacity of her iphone, Prodger creates a highly engaging and personal dialogue through spoken narrative, shedding light on her own journey 

    Image: Charlotte Prodger, BRIDGIT (film still), 2016. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist  


  • Still Looking: How do you get started with modern art?

    Art can sometimes deem daunting, it can often feel hard to understand or appreciate. In our venues, with so many works on display, trying to see everything can also maybe seem overwhelming. Studies have found that visitors to art galleries spend an average of eight seconds looking at each work on display.

    But what happens when we spend five minutes, fifteen minutes, an hour or an afternoon really looking in detail at an artwork? This is ‘slow looking’. It is an approach based on the idea that, if we really want to get to know a work of art, we need to spend time with it.

    Slow looking is not about curators, historians or even artists telling you how you should look at art. It’s about you and the artwork, allowing yourself time to make your own discoveries and form a more personal connection with it.

    Some great resources for slow looking include:

    BBC Arts & Ideas Episode

    Tate – The Art of Slow Looking : a podcast and webpage with discussion about slow looking as well as a wellbeing guide through the Tate’s galleries

    The Slowdown – a podcast with daily episodes of 5min poems, read aloud to slow down the mind.

    The National Gallery

    Slow TV :including everything from 10 hour train rides, to underwater scenes and other great things to help with anxiety by putting on in the background.

    To celebrate our first year as part of the National Partners Programme, we brought together a fantastic group of people from Sunderland to introduce them to the vast and extraordinary Arts Council Collection of modern and contemporary art.

    Our Art Champions have travelled across the country to Yorkshire and London, had exclusive tours around the stores where over 8000 artworks are kept safe, and have been introduced to some of the most exciting modern and contemporary British art in the country. Our Champions found strategies for exploring artworks, for overcoming the pressure to like or understand an artwork, allowing themselves space and time to look and think.

    Listen below to our Art Champions reflecting on their experience of getting started with Modern Art.


  • Film: 50/50 by Amelia Turner
    50/50 by Amelia Turner 

    Lost in her mind, found in her home.

    Though the world is in isolation, it is from the confines of her bed that Turner’s Grandma, Millie,
    fights on… off, on, off, on, off. This constant flick of the switch is also known to their family as
    Cyclothymia; the lesser known strand of bipolar.

    As a Granddaughter, this project has been a way for the photographer to communicate with her
    Grandma. The tradition of a physical diary has transformed into a digital one containing CBT records,
    phone call conversations, video clips and little acts of encouragement to help lift the duvet.

    Projection onto a bed sheet alludes to a place of safety for Millie in her darkest moments.
    Suspension onto a washing line relates to her instability with slight movements of the sheet
    combined with clips fading reflecting the alteration of her mood.

    About Amelia:

    Amelia Turner is a recent graduate from the University of Sunderland having studied ‘Photography, Video and Digital Imaging’. 50/50 is Amelia’s  final University assignment.

    Amelia is a Sunderland Culture volunteer and regularly volunteers with our Creative Age groups. She has also volunteered at Hetton Carnival 2019 and Celebrate Different 2019 and is looking to develop her own practice as a community artist.

    You can also see the final video projected, as the artwork intended, here:


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