Getting artistic can strengthen mental health

A critically acclaimed art exhibition at the Turner Contemporary has been used as an opportunity to strengthen people’s mental health.

Live Well Kent funded a series of art workshops for local people, including some using mental health & wellbeing support services.

They were based around the Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’ exhibition – an artistic response to T.S. Eliot’s poem of the same name.

T.S Eliot wrote The Waste Land while recovering from a breakdown in his mental health.

The workshops were arranged by Turner Contemporary and led by artist Tess Denman-Cleaver in partnership with The Richmond Fellowship and Kent and Medway NHS Partnership Trust.

Participants learned to explore their own personal relationship with the poem by sound, drawing and painting, writing, walking, choreography and performance. In response, they created new artworks which appear in the exhibition.

“The therapeutic value of engaging in creative occupations is well documented,” explains occupation therapist Jemma Channing who was involved in the sessions.

“Many participants had never tried anything like this before and left feeling more confident and able to better express themselves – a really important tool in improving mental health.”

For many involved, it was also the first time they had engaged with the arts. The hope is that they will continue to visit the Turner Contemporary and other galleries.

Turner Contemporary staffs also received mental health awareness training and are learning about the therapeutic benefits of engaging in the arts.

The Waste Land exhibition at the Turner Contemporary runs until Monday, 7 May.