Mental Health Awareness Week

Coventry charities Arty-Folks and AIMHS (Actively Improving Mental Health Services) have joined forces to mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week and to raise discussions around mental health Thriving or Surviving

Coventry has a lot of mental health peer-to-peer support in the community to offer but it’s not always easy to find out about it.

Monday 8th of May, 11am-3pm at Coventry Central Library, come and talk to members of Arty-Folks and AIMHS who will share their knowledge and expertise with you to help you thrive in life.

Picnic in the Park Friday 12th of May 2017

Coventry mental health charities are bringing people together to a ‘bring and share’ picnic by the main visitors centre in the Memorial Park.  Everyone is welcome to come and celebrate Peer-to-Peer mental health support in the community.

Meet by Godiva statue in Broadgate 12noon and you can either join
AIMHS walking group and with them make your way to the Memorial Park
Arty-Folks and we will visit our exhibitions at Central library and further up at Earlsdon library before getting to the Memorial Park.

Come and enjoy a chat with old and new friends, relax and share some food, and we have booked sunshine and surprise entertainment for you.

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A brolly over our heads

The Coventry Umbrella Club was best known as ‘the Brolly Club’ back in the good old days, the 50s and 60s when Coventry was flourishing.  Terry Watson was the main driving force behind the club whose main aim was to foster participation in all the arts in Coventry. Terry died in 2009 and left a relatively small sum of money in his will to be granted to arts organisations in Coventry.  At present, the Club has a small group of members who have extensive awareness of the arts in Coventry and have personal knowledge of projects which Terry would wish to support.

We were so chuffed when they offered to support Arty-Folks with a grant of £1,312 !  The Brolly Club said: “Arty-Folks is continuing Terry Watson’s legacy of encouraging artistic creativity in others, especially those who lack confidence in their own potential.”  For more information visit

January 2017 we will engage with this funding artist Tanya Kozin, a highly respected sculptor with extensive experience working from model. She will teach us how to use calipers to measure the model and step-by-step transform a bag of terracotta clay into a life-size and life-like head sculpture.  The whole process from start to finish will take 8-10 weeks and will put our observational skills to the test as well as our determination to see things through to completion.  What a challenge to start the new year with!

If you are interested to attend courses run by Tanya visit

Hi, I’m Tilly and I am the Creative Program Assistant

As Creative Program Assistant I develop the art program and I facilitate all Arty-Folks therapeutic art groups and I am so excited that the Heart of England Community Foundation has granted us £75,000 to run ‘MAKING HEADWAY’, a 3year program for young adults 18-30 years old that will help them to overcome mental ill health and thrive in life.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
20% of people who come to Arty-Folks because of poor mental health are between 17-25 years old and most suffer with social anxiety.  Does that surprise you?  As a young person we are expected to be carefree, confident, optimistic, social, popular, intelligent, and make our way in the world with a good job, a steady relationship, buy a house, have fun, be successful, and have tons of Facebook friends.  Expectations are huge and the fear of failure is crippling.  Our parents, bless their cotton socks, may have done their best but didn’t manage to set us up with the right skills and confidence to just get out there and make headway.

I am 23 years old now and I was one of them when I came across Arty-Folks while I was a 2nd year Fine Art student at Coventry University.  I attended a presentation and I was so impressed the artwork people had produced and their journeys of self-discovery.  I immediately felt I wanted to be part of it because I could see that art had a meaning, a clear purpose with Arty-Folks.  I volunteered at workshops for nearly 2 years before taking on this job a year ago and it has not stopped challenging me.  I am still learning about art and people myself, developing my skills and growing as a person.

Our new group Making Headway will support young adults to make sense of their experiences and their feelings, and to tell their story through their own artwork.  The young adults who currently attend our workshops have started meeting as a group to start talking how they want Making Headway to offer and what they want to get out of it.

Together we decided that

  • the group will run every Tuesdays 1pm-3pm and can be joined any time throughout the year
  • we will learn traditional art skills like drawing, painting, ceramics and also use video, photography, animation to develop a powerful visual and verbal language
  • beginners are very welcome and everyone will be able to learn at their own pace
  • the group will remain small, relaxed, and informal so that even everyone has a chance to express themselves and be heard
  • everyone can build a personal art portfolio that can be used to access further education.
  • we will exhibit our artwork to celebrate our achievements and to step out of our comfort zone
  • we will publish a book of stories and artwork to encourage more young adults to seek support

I wasn’t sure how it would feel facilitating a group for my peers but it was amazing!  We talked, we shared our experiences with the pressures to conform and struggling to fit in, and it didn’t feel like showing weakness.  In fact, it felt assertive, compassionate, accepting, and confident.   We talked about how it feels when you feel different to others and that when you opt out of the mainstream your peers will label you as week, as different, and that gives them licence to abuse you, to bully you.  We all know now that being bullied leads to poor mental health and anxiety but admitting to it is still socially generally unacceptable particularly for young people.

So perhaps you know a family member, a friend, or a friend of a friend who is struggling to cope with daily living and who need support to get back on their feet.  Let them know about Arty-Folks even if they do not have a massive interest in art because even if we can’t help we may know somebody somewhere who can.

To join Making Headway send us a message on Facebook/Arty-Folks or email or text 074 4364 3634.

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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

Join our 20th Birthday Party!

 Monday 25th of April 2016 is Arty-Folks’ 20th Anniversary!

join our Birthday Party in front of the Coventry Central Library
come and meet Arty-Folks artists

special guests Coventry’s Lord Major and Lady Mayoress
will join us and visit our Exhibition “I must be dreaming”
on the first floor of Coventry Central Library, showing self-portraits exploring the connection between thinking and feeling, until 30.4.16

Coventry’s Lady Godiva will cut our Birthday Cake
come and enjoy a slice!

1.00 – 3.00
make a Dream Catcher, a free activity.
Arty-Folks members will help you to make your own.da680ad8a1d1b1428c14fc169b723aac
20 years ago, on the 25th of April 1996 a few mental health service users who felt disempowered by their diagnosis and written off by society got together with a visual artist and started to make Art.  From those humble beginnings Arty-Folks transformed into a Charity supporting over 300 people with mental ill health per year on their journey to personal growth and mental well-being.

Today Arty-Folks is proud
We have offered an uninterrupted service since 1996 on a shoestring budget ! With the support of over 100 Peer Volunteers we have supported over 3,000 people to regain a foothold and move on in life.

More recently
Arty-Folks received £40,000 from the People’s Health Trust to
support City Centre residents to reduce loneliness and social isolation.
This 2 year project will come to completion end of May and we are proud that 330 residents participated in our art workshops.  90 community activities within the city-centre and over 260 city-wide are now listed on our website directories

But we are MOST PROUD
Our members who fulfilled lifetime ambitions such as art qualifications from A* Level to BA (Hons) Fine Art, Illustration, Arts & Crafts, and many of these with commendations. Some members exhibited their work abroad and sold their work. Our eldest member and Trustee (born 1916) received The Mind Millennium Award in 2003 for his artistic achievements, and for being the third oldest practising artist in the West Midlands.

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We often think about creativity as making something new and original, but in fact the root meaning of the word means ‘to grow’.
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso

We look forward to celebrating our 20th Birthday with you.

Santander surprise boost for Arty-Folks

Arty-Folks has received a donation of £4,000 by the Santander Foundation which offers grants to UK registered charities for projects that help disadvantaged people in local communities.  We will spend the money on our art workshops and art materials so that our members can try a wide range of new techniques and learn new skills that will help them to de-stress and re-discover their passions, abilities, and personal qualities beyond their diagnosis.

The stigma that comes with feeling mentally unwell is still preventing people from seeking help and as a result it can be very isolating. Our weekly art workshops reach out to people who don’t know how to make sense of their experiences and are held back by their conditions.

Emma Ford, Manager at Santander’s Coventry High Street branch said: “The Santander Foundation makes hundreds of donations every year to good causes throughout the UK. Our branch is committed to playing a key part in the community and we are delighted to be supporting Arty-Folks, and hope the donation makes a real difference to local people.”

End of Year (and possible the end of) Artspace Party!

Don’t miss it – This might be the last Artspace Studios event – EVER!!!

The Artspace Studios, 16 Lower Holyhead Road (off Spon Street), Coventry CV1 3AU   will be open 4pm-9pm to the general public on Saturday 5th of December 2015.

Everyone is welcome.  Bring family, children, friends, colleagues, and everyone with a passion for the Visual Arts and the cultural life of this city. We are looking forward to see you all.Artspace invite

Arty-Folks is proud to present ‘Starry Night’, an exhibition of new ceramics by members of all our groups.  We will also exhibit Mandala’s and a selection of flamboyant hats.  Refreshments provided.

Frieda’s life drawing class is showing sketches and drawings.
Clay&Fire will exhibit ceramics.

Cov.Uni 2nd year BA (Hons) Photography students exhibition.

What do artists do all day? Good question to ask, innit?

The building is threatened with closure next March due to extensive dry rot and lack of finances to sort it out.  26 April 2016 Arty-Folks will celebrate 20 years since its first workshop at the Artspace.  We are fond of this building as it has been our home for many years and and this will be quite a sad occasion even though we have already sorted out a new venue if Arty-Folks has to move.  But, to be honest, we had marching orders so many times before, we will believe it when we see it!  You never know, there might still be a bit of fighting spirit left in the old shack!  But it would be good to see you all for the last bash of the year and potentially last bash ever.

Amazing News!

Our application to Comic Relief Local Communities Fund administered by Heart of England Community Foundation has been successful and we are preparing to begin a pilot project that will help more people to reduce social isolation and get connected in their local community. 

With this grant we will employ Sharon Gardner, who will be at Gateway workshops Wednesdays 12.30-2.30 to assist our members to
• explore new hobbies and recreational/educational activities in the community
• establish a healthy weekly routine with meaningful activities including volunteering
• receive targeted and timely support for issues affecting their lives

Sharon is not a stranger to Arty-Folks; she started attending Arty-Folks January 2014, gradually improved her mental health, and she is now a member of Making Way group.  She worked for over 30 years for the NHS and she knows very well herself how hard it is to get yourself out of a rut when you’re feeling low.

“Until recently people with mental ill health have felt managed by the medical profession, and written off by society.  But with budget cuts, people are now expected to reduce dependence on NHS and Council services and do more for themselves. However, with many charities, community clubs and activities closing it has become much harder for people to reduce loneliness and find opportunities to engage safely and meaningfully with others.  And this is where I am hoping to make a difference at least to the lives of people who come to Arty-Folks. I will be at Gateway workshops at the Artspace to offer information, advice and support about what is available in Coventry that could be helpful to them and we have a team of Peer Volunteers who will help to access new opportunities.”
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To Catch a Dream Exhibition 28.9.-10.10.15

Arty-Folks members are exhibiting landscapes at the Coventry Central Library on the first floor from 28th September to 10th October which is World Mental Health Day.

Arty-Folks has realised a dream and gained 2year funding from the People’s Health Trust to support people in the city-centre to connect in the cultural life around them. We have been awarded £40,000 over two years and with this funding we will be able to support people who are suffering with anxiety and depression, and help them to engage again in the community.

To celebrate we are offering free Dream Catcher workshops at the Coventry Central Library 1pm-3pm on Monday 5th, Tuesday 6th and Friday 9th of October.

To find out more about Arty-Folks groups meet exhibiting artists on Monday 28th September 1pm-2pm at the library. You can chat to them about their work, why they have joined Arty-Folks, and how it helps them to improve mental health and wellbeing.

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