Blue Monday 2020

21-26 January 2020 at Blue Door Gallery in Earlsdon
An exhibition of paintings and collages by Arty-Folks members
Preview on ‘Blue Monday’ 20th January 1pm

Blue Monday, the third Monday in January, is claimed to be the most depressing day of the year. In 2020, Blue Monday falls on the 20th of January.

‘Blue’ Monday? Farcical! And yet….
The concept may be a gimmick and farcical but we can easily see how a combination of dark winter days, money being tight a month after the festive season and before payday, as well as hopes for a ‘new’ year not quite materialising can lead to feelings of low motivation.

Lorella Medici, Arty-Folks Manager: “Far from making the day sound negative and melancholic, this ‘Busting the Blues’ exhibition rather aims to inspire people to take action to ward off the ‘Blues Brothers’ (aka depression and anxiety), and make bold life decisions.

We all have good and bad days but there are times when everything seems so much harder and less worthwhile. What lifts us out of depression and anxiety are the things we truly enjoy in life like spending time with friends, reading a book, going for a walk, and hobbies like art with a group of like-minded people at Arty-Folks.”

The ‘Busting the Blues’ exhibition is a showcase of the recent works created by adults with mental health needs who attend Arty-Folks’ four weekly groups and will be displayed at The Blue Door Gallery, Earlsdon (Unit 10 Kensington Court, Kensington Rd, Coventry CV5 6GG) from 21st – 26th January 2020. The gallery is open every day from 11am to 4pm including week-ends.

Liz Harvey, Art Programme Manager: “Our members artwork in this exhibition shows how they have stepped out of their comfort zone to explore what makes them tick, what helps them to enjoy life in the here and now. This was much harder than it seemed at first because ‘enjoy’ can too easily be mistaken with ‘consume’!”

Acrylic Paintings – inspired by Aboriginal dot work members mapped out what helps them feel grounded and connected such as important people and places that they hold dear in their minds.

Mixed Media – what exactly is ‘creativity’ and why should we cultivate it? These pieces explore how we can use the transformative power of art to nurture personal growth and change.

Oil Paintings – self-portraits exploring how we construct identity. Psychologists assume that identity formation is a matter of “finding oneself” by matching one’s talents and potential with available social roles.

Sculpture – The last Jigsaw, inspired by the artist Dale Chihuly’s glasswork our members have transformed single use plastics into magical and colourful flowers.

This exhibition marks the conclusion of three hugely important projects in the life of Arty-Folks:

– Peer Empowerment, People’s Health Trust, enabled us to provide enhanced support to our most vulnerable members who are struggling with hearing voices, intrusive thoughts and hallucinations. We ran a social programme that encouraged peer-to-peer support and facilitated meaningful friendships to blossom that will be lasting beyond Arty-Folks.

– Jumping through Hoops, Heart of England Community Foundation, enabled us to start our 4th weekly group Making Headway specifically for young adults 18-30 years old who are struggling to transition into adulthood.

– New Perspectives, Groundworks European Social Funds, we were able to support some of our most vulnerable and socially excluded members move closer to their chosen goals and to access employment and education.

We hope to see you at Blue Door Gallery!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @artyfolks for further updates and behind-the-scenes action on the run up to the event, and follow the hashtags #BustingTheBlues and #ArtyFolksCov

Coventry University showcasing Arty-Folks Sketchbooks

  • Coventry University are running a community art project called Coventry Sketchbook Project and Arty-Folks members are some of the first to use them!
  • Some art from the Arty-Folks sketchbooks will be showcased at Coventry University Gala Dinner on 5th December 2019
  • 2021 sketchbooks will be distributed across Coventry in the run up to Coventry City of Culture 2021 and you can pick up your own free sketchbook from The Inkwell, Whitefriars Street, Coventry

How to fill a Coventry Sketchbook?

The sketchbooks invite you to look at our everyday Coventry in a different way and notice things that you may not have noticed before. You can draw, paint, collage, and use any medium that suits you to create images of your Coventry and what is important about this city to you, and your experiences of living in your area. At Arty-Folks we used pencil, charcoal then experimented with ink using brushes and cotton buds, and patterened washi-tape that you can buy from the Inkwell.

Get creative with friends!

Bring your sketchbook along the next time you visit your friends and help, encourage, motivate and reassure each other, chat about ideas, find inspiration, make suggestions and most of all remind each other that a sketchbook is a place for play and experimentation! At Arty-Folks we use art to improve our mental well-being and being part of this project is exciting because our artwork will contribute to something bigger and become a part of Coventry’s heritage.

What happens when I hand in my completed sketchbook?

When you have filled your sketchbook hand it back to the Inkwell. Coventry University is looking to exhibit and tour the sketchbooks over the next 3 years to showcase the essence of Coventry and its people. And so your artwork will inspire people up and down the country to get creative.

To find out more:                   

visit their Facebook page: Coventry Sketchbook Project or follow #CovSketchbook and #ArtyFolksCov

Off The Beaten Path

To mark World Mental Health Day on the 10th October 2019 we are exhibiting our members artwork at Coventry Central Library and in a yet secret location outdoors in the city center.  So watch this space!

Coventry Central Library 7-20 October, normal opening times

These past few months members have used wax on canvas, inks and collage to explore the creative process inspired by the documentary ‘The creative brain’ by David Eagleman, you can find it on Netflix.  

Stepping out of their comfort zone, our members explored the transformative power of art for personal growth and change. Creativity is innately human and yet, with our busy lives we become so disconnected from our ability to imagine something new and that we can bring into existence.

“Arty-Folks is more than an art group; we are a community who support each other. Being involved with the project helped me to get through a very difficult time in my life when I was struggling with my mental health. Making artwork enabled me to connect with others in the group with similar experiences and to better understand my emotions. It has given me a sense of purpose, building my confidence and social skills.”

The last Jigsaw

Inspired by the American artist Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures our members have transformed single use plastics into colourful flowers that grow out of the last piece of a jigsaw. 

Everyone has a different story, however, certain feelings, like lack of self-worth and anxiety are universal, and can be shared through the discussions sparked by our artwork.

Coventry City Center 9-11 October, #offthebeatenpath to be announced on the 9th

Members’ exotic translucent flowers will light up a derelict and unused landscape in the city centre on two nights.   Our beautiful green planet is drowning in plastic but for once plastic will bring colour and beauty to a wasteland. Don’t miss it!

10th October, World Mental Health Day Focus: Suicide Prevention

Our life circumstances and experiences affect our mental well-being and
Arty-Folks offers a safe haven of peer-support when people need it most. Members come together in the group sessions, not just physically but emotionally, building strong and meaningful relationships.

There is not enough provision in the local community in Coventry for people who are living with mental health issues. If you know someone who is struggling please help them to access groups like Arty-Folks. 

You might just save their life. #artyfolks #offthebeatenpath

Pour and Flow – Exhibition

We have not exhibited for a while and we are so excited to show these amazing acrylic paintings by our members for Mental Health Awareness Week 2019.

The theme set by the Mental Health Foundation this year is body image, how we feel and think about our bodies. At Arty-Folks we have explored this in a positive way by using paints in an organic way and that helps us connect body and mind.

We added different mediums to acrylics to create chance effects when pouring onto canvas and to enable more flow. This process required a body and mind alignment which we experienced as energising and uplifting, and yes the results were stunning and surprising.

We then took a small section as inspiration for a second painting that tapped into our childhood imagination. But to see those you need to visit the exhibition!

World Mental Health Day 2018 focus on Young People

World Mental Health Day 10th October 2018
puts the spotlight on Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.

Members’ acrylic paintings map out places and people that are important in their lives. With this exhibition we want to raise awareness that feeling part of a community is the best ‘medicine’ to maintaining good mental health.

A survey released this October 2018 by BBC Radio 4 found that 16-24 year olds are the loneliest age group in the UK.  Young people have to face a world where human rights are violated wherever they look including cyber crimes, cyber bullying, and violent video games.  Additionally, young people face a huge range of pressures from achieving in education, fitting in socially, conforming to gender roles, portraying a certain image online, as well as dealing with family breakdowns.

Youth loneliness is not taken seriously by society and so it can feel like a personal failing.  By putting children and young people’s feelings down as ‘typically teen moodiness’ we silence and disempower them and we are putting their mental well-being at risk.

Most young people will come through challenging life events without serious harm.  However, the NHS reports 24.3% of people registered with mental health services are aged under 19, and that the number of girls and boys self-harming is increasing at an alarming rate.  In the UK suicide is the leading cause of death in young people and over half of those who die by suicide have a history of self-harm.

Framing young people’s experience of loneliness in medical terms such as depression or anxiety is not useful and will only reinforce the sense of shame and stigma many of them feel.   Instead of keeping their feelings bottled up, we need to encourage young people to talk about how they feel, help them understand loneliness as a normal experience and legitimate feelings for them to express.

What does it take to grow up healthy, happy and resilient?

Human beings are by nature very sociable and we need to take time to listen and exchange experiences, have fun, and connect to our peers.  The BBC survey shows that 61% of young people say that taking part in group activities is the best solution to tackle loneliness because sharing an interest is the simplest way to make new friends.

Arty-Folks received £75,000 from the Heart of England Community Foundation
to run a 3 year programme for young people 18-28 year old who are struggling to find their own way forward.  Weekly “Making Headway” group offers art for self-development combined with 1:1 life skills coaching, and inter-generational mentoring.  The project is in its second year and it has helped our young people to push through their fears and start Foundation in Art and Design at University, college courses towards and employment.

Feedback from a young service user: “Arty-Folks is a safe place for me where I made my first friends after 4years of being in Coventry, where I feel comfortable being myself. The group has helped me become mentally stronger and I am now back at Uni.

Arty-Folks “Making Headway” group provides young people with opportunities to meet with other like-minded people and and promotes a sense of belonging to a community.
To join Arty-Folks therapeutic art programme:  every Wednesday 12.30-2.30 at Holyhead Studios (formerly known as Artspace), 16 Lower Holyhead Road, CV1 3AU.

Heritage Open Days, September 15/16 2018

Saturday 15 September: 11am – 5pm
Sunday 16 September: 12noon – 4.30pm
at Holyhead Studios (formerly known as Artspace), 16 Lower Holyhead Road, Coventry CV1 3AU

What’s On
Arty-Folks members are exhibiting fantasy film creations in the community room
Artist studios will be open and artists will be present to talk about their work.
Children’s activities – colouring, collage, heritage trails.
A range of community groups will be exhibiting artwork.
Exhibition of plans and photographs documenting the history of the building.

The building historically served as a Quaker Friend’s meeting house, Police social club, youth centre and one-time rehearsal space for the Specials, Selector and other 2-tone bands. Since the early 1990s the building has been an arts facility offering artists’ studios, community space hire, workshops, events and specialist ceramic facilities. The building retains a wealth of original features and artefacts which illustrate its varied history and uses.

Heritage tours available of the building to include the artist studios, basement used by the Specials and Selector for rehearsals, classroom gallery, and members office and community room (former friends meeting room). Tours will take place on the half hour throughout opening times. No need to pre-book but tours are limited to 8 people per tour. Meet in the main entrance hall. Visitors can wait in the community room till the tour starts.

To download the Heritage week-end brochure

Willow workshop at Positive Images Festival 2018

Originally ‘Basket Case’ referred to WWI soldiers who had lost arms and legs and had to be carried in baskets by others. A ‘Basket Case’ is someone who is regarded as ‘useless’ and it became a derogatory term for people with mental illness that is sadly still often used today.
Nobody is useless.
Arty-Folks challenges such stereotypes and misconceptions and we are working towards a world where people are able to have everyday conversations about mental wellbeing within families and across the wider community.
The workshop is free and our artists will show you how to use willow and make a spiralling hanging basket for your garden. We hope it will then continue reminding you to relax and clear your mind in times of stress.

Arty-Folks exhibits at Positive Images Festival 2018

Main floor – We are so proud and excited to exhibit for the first time “Inner Child” sculptures created by our Making Way group.  These sculptures are in two parts; ‘parent and child’ and took the best part of 4 months to complete. This was a particularly beautiful project where we explored being kinder to ourselves and to stand up to those negative voices in our minds.

Main floor – by popular demand we are exhibiting ‘Spiralling’ again, a magical installation created collaboratively by members of Arty-Folks’ young adults group.

1st floor – Paintings by members of all four groups that Arty-Folks runs weekly. These landscapes are inspired by Aboriginal paintings and map out personal places of importance and that help us grounding.

Positive Images Festival is in its 24th year and runs Saturday 16th June – 7th July.
You can pick up a copy of the programme at Coventry Central Library



Spiralling Willow Workshop Saturday 19th May 2018

Saturday 19th of May           Free Workshop 11am-1pm
Central Library main floor.  Learn to make a willow spiral basket

Originally ‘Basket Case’ referred to WWI soldiers who had lost arms and legs and had to be carried in baskets by others.   Later, and until the 1960’s, ‘Basket Case’ referred to the mentally ill at Insane Asylums who wove baskets as part of their ‘therapy’ and to do something ‘useful’.  To suffer a mental illness is still seen as a mark of disgrace today even though many recover fully, or learn to manage their condition especially if they get help early on.

15 Minutes is how long it will take you to make a small spiral willow basket
on Saturday 19th of May 11am-1pm.

Join us and together let’s challenge the stigma that still surrounds mental illness today.
Work with Arty-Folks towards a world where people are able to have everyday conversations about mental well-being within families and across the wider community.

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Spiralling for Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

We are delighted to invite you to ‘Spiralling’ an exhibition and installation of artwork created by members of Arty-Folks for Mental Health Awareness Week 14-20 May 2018 at Coventry Central Library, Smithford Way, Coventry CV1 1FY, open Mon-Fri 9am-7pm and Sat 9am-4.30pm.

The Mental Health Foundation chose Stress as the theme for 2018 and describes it as feeling under abnormal pressure. This pressure can come from different aspects of your day to day life and it often has a cumulative effect, with each stressor building on top of one another.

Everyone experiences stress to some degree and it can sometimes be positive and help you perform better in certain situations. But it’s only beneficial if it is short-lived!  If stress is affecting your life seek support to tackle the issues fuelling it and at the same time find your own ways to de-stress.

Go for a walk, try meditation, yoga or tai-chi, or join Arty-Folks any Wednesday throughout the year 12.30-2.30 at Holyhead Studios (formerly known as Artspace), 16 Lower Holyhead Road, Coventry CV1 3AU, in Coventry City Centre just off Spon Street.

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We would like to hear your creative ways to manage stress using the hashtag #mycreativecalm across FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.