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.

Are you Thriving or Surviving ?

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Good mental health is much more than just the absence of a mental illness.
Arty-Folks members are exhibiting work exploring what helps us feel we are thriving in life.

At Coventry Central Library
Ground floor by the seating area:    ‘Twixt Nature & Nurture’, a sculpture created collaboratively by members of three Arty-Folks groups.
First floor:     Textiles and Collages exploring self-motivation

At Earlsdon Library
Progression group members: textiles exploring self-motivation
Making Way group members: ceramic portraits
Headway group members:  Stimulus and Homeostasis glass sculptures

Mental Health Awareness Week 8-14 May 2017, we invite you to look at mental health from a new angle. Rather than ask why so many people are living with mental health problems, we will seek to uncover why too few of us are thriving with good mental health. Many of us struggle to cope with the demands of life and  we need to take steps to look after our mental health and building resilience to thrive despite set backs.
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Artists and Academics exhibition 26th of November 2016

To celebrate Coventry’s bid for the City of Culture in 2017 the University of Warwick and Fargo village are bringing 17 artists and 17 academics together for an exhibition of local artists work that aims to bridge the art-science divide. Arty-Folks has chosen to team up with PhD student Rebecca Noble and the collaboration will lead to a piece of work that will be exhibited  for one day only on Saturday 26th of November 10am-6pm at the Fargo Village Box Gallery.

Rebecca Noble (Centre for History of Medicine, Warwick University)
My research is based on understandings of madness in eighteenth-century Mexico and how those understandings affected ideas of personal identity. I look at how the term madness was used in different areas of colonial life, such as the Inquisition, army, criminal justice system, and Christian missions. I also analyse literary texts, medical journals, and colonial bureaucratic records to develop a picture of the varied conceptions of madness in this period with an emphasis on the moral, political, and medical significance of the term. I ask questions such as ‘what worldviews shaped beliefs about madness?’, ‘who was thought to be mad and why?’ and ‘how was the idea of madness used to regulate this society?’ Through answering these questions, I intend to add to a nuanced understanding of what it meant to be human in eighteenth-century Mexico.

We often think about creativity as making something new and original, but in fact the root meaning of the word means ‘to grow’. About 20 members of Progression and Making Way will be working together to create a sculpture entitled ‘Twixt Nature and Nurture’ influenced by her research into madness and by artists Francisco Goya and Hieronymus Bosch. This piece of work will measure 6m long x 2m wide x 2.5-3.0m high and will be made predominantly of paper.
for more information visit http://storytelling4health.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/fargo-artists-and-academics-exhibition.html

Stick by Me !


Arty-Folks campaign ‘Stick by Me’ wants to reduce negative beliefs and stereotypes about depression and other mood disorders.  We want to encourage people in Coventry to become more aware and supportive of people who are going through dark times.

We have asked our members “Who has helped you through and how?”  and we are adding every day one short story here

20.9.16 “One of my colleagues at work was absolutely amazing.  She gave me time and space, and she backed me up when I couldn’t speak up for myself.  I hit such a low after my husband left and at times I just couldn’t face the day.  She would ring me up after work just to chat about what we were watching on telly and sometimes she would pop in ‘on her way home from shopping’.  She gave me time and space and we often just sat together without talking.  Her calm company eventually rubbed off on me and I could see that I still had much to live for.”

21.9.16 “To someone who has never experienced these depths of darkness I would like to say ‘Don’t try to understand, you can only fully understand if you have experienced it yourself but hopefully you never will.  It’s like telling someone who has lost a leg that you understand what it feels like while you are standing on both of yours.  It doesn’t work.’  Just being there for that person can be enough because that’s when you don’t feel quite so alone.  It is true, sometimes when you are sitting in your darkness you feel like you don’t want anyone there but in truth you do wish that somebody was there holding you.  I can look back and see that I have pushed people away in the past, and understandably not many did stay.  Don’t take it personally if you are pushed away.  You might not be the person to help but you can help them to find someone who does.  Let them know that you have not written them off with the occasional text, card or phone call, let them know that the door is still open when they’re ready.”

22.9.16 “No, it’s not easy to support someone who is stuck in a dark place, and it’s frightening for you as well as for them.  It starts putting your own mental health at risk because you are so worried they might harm themselves.  So I would strongly recommend to ask for help for them as well as for yourself.  This can be a neighbour, a colleague, a cousin, or a friend, it doesn’t have to be a health professional.  Yes of course you have to make sure you hit sympathetic ears but these days people are much more open about mental stress because life really isn’t easy for any of us, regardless of age or social background.”

23.9.16 “To the kind soul who helped one of our members into safety last Tuesday evening 20th September we would like to express our gratitude.  We cannot thank you enough !  Whoever you are – please know that because you spotted her in a desperate attempt to escape those toxic voices and visions she has now another chance to hopefully get the help she needs.  You saved a wonderful person who is a volunteer at Arty-Folks and supports with physical disabilities to achieve their best in art, a great artist in herself who can express through a powerful visual language what it is like to live with this complex condition, and simply a wonderful mate to be around who is always there when you need her.  We simply cannot thank you enough for sticking by her !”

24.9.16 “When you are supporting someone with mental ill health it can feel like no matter what you say or do they are never going to move on from their hurts. I understand how disheartening that can be for family or close friends. I was one of them.  I would like to say to you – stay, hold on, because eventually there will be a spark and from there something new can grow. But this spark will probably not come from you because you are too close.  It will come from peers who are travelling along a similar road.”

25.9.16 “The person who has helped me most and stuck by me is my mum.  She is always there for me and she doesn’t judge me.  She doesn’t live here but we talk every day on the phone and when I have to go to medical reviews she travels up to support me.  To anyone supporting a loved one going through a bad time I would like to say: encourage them to talk about their illness and just listen, that’s enough.  Having somebody to talk to openly and honestly is the biggest help you can possibly get.”

5.10.16 “My awesome partner has stuck by me through thick and thin, crazy and sane, psychosis and clarity, hallucinations and delusions.  She has embraced my mental health as simply one component of what makes me me.  I constantly hear voices; so when we are alone together she knows there are always others in my head.  She has supported me through my darkest times, my happier times, the loss of my job due to my head, my worsening physical disabilities, my near-constant suicidal ideation, through my realisation that my gender is not that which I was labelled at birth – but non-binary. She accepts me for me.  I know there are times that she finds me tough company. But no matter what my head throws at us, she has always been my rock.”14568100_1152828091450885_3918664309745811137_n