This summer we have been offering on-line creative wellbeing workshops for young people using different art forms to explore how the pandemic has been affecting us and the techniques that have helped us manage. We have been working with support from our partners Ty Canna Outreach Services in Cardiff and their young service users, with funding for this programme from The Community Lottery Fund and The Baring Foundation.
Through a variety of different creative exercises, such as free writing, word association and working with themes and prompts, our group worked hard to create an expressive piece which represents how they felt stepping outside after being inside for so long. Some of our main focuses were nature, dreams and our concept of reality as people who experience mental health conditions.
We think that the film they created film represents a universal shared experience of how sometimes the only steps we can take each day are the small ones, and also that by connecting with the outside world we can start to reconnect with our own inner landscapes to improve our sense of wellbeing.
Here is some of the feedback from the group:
Working on this project has been an absolute pleasure and we are indebted to Katja, and the rest of Breathe Creative, for their help and guidance to create such an outstanding piece of work. Everyone involved should feel very proud and appreciate the immense effort and creativity that has gone into making this project.
I enjoyed working on the film and I particularly liked working with the sound engineer to put the music and spoken words together. I found the project quite therapeutic and I’m pleased with the finished result. I hope that whoever watches the film and listens to it will feel a sense of comfort and companionship and the awareness that they are not alone in the way that they fee l… The film is particularly good for encouraging and practicing mindfulness meditation as you focus on the sounds, words and images.
This art that we were able to compose as a group has been a coming together of incredible minds. Sharing the colours of our lived experiences, thoughts and emotions paints a picture that is unique yet universal to all of us. We are all under one sky, seeing with different lenses.
I can relate to the video. I feel trapped myself; the video will help others to understand what it is like to struggle with your mental health.
Breathe Creative has been a fantastic opportunity to communicate and share a creative experience with like-minded people. It is a welcome new addition to my weekly routines and I have found the expressive writing exercises to be particularly beneficial to my mental health. In this project we were able to work with Tic Ashfield, a music composer and sound engineer. Tic showed us how to manipulate the audio that we had recorded. As an aspiring music producer this was an incredible learning experience for me, I thoroughly enjoyed watching her bring our creations to life. I am grateful to have taken part in this project and would recommend it to anyone who’s struggling with their mental health and wants to express their creative flare!
Being involved in the Small Steps project was inspirational. Such a joy to see such creativity and individuality from everyone involved. The diversity and variety of ideas was incredible and how everyone came up with such good, different ideas from the same brief was awesome. It’s amazing what we can create when we work as a team!
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 10-16 May 2021. The theme this year is ‘Nature’.
One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Mental Health Awareness Week aims to get people talking about their mental health and reduce the stigma that can stop people from asking for help.
We want to hear your stories of how nature has supported your mental health. This might be as a simple as tending to a house plant, listening to the birds, touching the bark of trees, smelling flowers or writing a poem about our favourite nature spot.
In the year ahead we are planning to build on our Mental Health for Wellbeing Programme with new projects and funding in the pipeline for exciting co-production projects with Mental Health Matters Wales and Diverse Cymru.
Favourite Places for Mental Health Awareness Week
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 our online creative wellbeing group at Ty Canna decided to each to walk to their favourite place, describe what it felt like and take a picture. During the pandemic, nature and the beauty spots in our walking distance have become even more important. Allowing us time and space to connect to nature is not a luxury but essential for our mental health.
I just sat watching and really looking at all of the details that I hadn’t been aware of before. The way the water flows at different rates across the span of the river. The huge variety of trees and plants the range of greens but in so many shades, so many different textures. Realising that this was the habitat for so many different creatures I must have seen at least 10 different birds all so busy and focused not a care in the world. Just doing what needed to be done. I watched as the clouds gently moved, creating different shadows on the water. Why have I never noticed these things before?
Being out in nature is a time to breathe, take stock and see how the seasons are changing.
The opportunity to see other people walking, a chance to say ‘hello’ and that brief connection with another human being, even though being out can be difficult and sometimes a struggle to achieve. That is so important to me, living alone.
Nature is always there and for that I am thankful.
Sometimes when I’m locked in my own head, and my thoughts are spiralling round and round I venture to my favourite place, the sea!
This is where I can breathe in the crisp air into my lungs and let the wind blow away the negativity from my brain. I listen to the waves, lapping up on the shore and mumbling over the rocks. It soothes the soul.
The seagulls chatter up above, looking for their next meal….the sun is setting, a red and orange glow as it sinks into the sea. The coast cleanses my soul, my body relaxes and my thoughts drift away into a blissful nothingness.
Picture of Blossom
One of my favourite places at the moment is Pontcanna fields. If I feel cooped up inside, it’s the best place to go to lift my mood and get the endorphins going.
I walk down the avenue and feel free! The trees intertwine with each other and I feel like I can go on forever. I never feel alone, I am surrounded by others probably feeling the same way, smiling and acknowledging each other with eyes if we can’t see our masked smiles.
A coffee in my hand helps lift me; I make it last for as long as I can even if it gets cold! I was half way around the field when I spotted this blossom tree. The breeze blew the petals from their branches and they floated around my face like confetti. It had an amazing calming effect, amazing; tranquil, so I took this picture.
My favourite Place – My Garden
My favourite place and sanctuary is my back garden. I get to look at the lovely flowers I’ve planted and the work I’ve put into my garden to make it tranquil and peaceful place to relax. I sit outside listening to the wind chimes clanging in the breeze and hear the birds singing in the trees and the relaxing sounds of trickling water coming from my water features. Feeling relaxed in my peaceful tranquil safe space. Seeing my cat, Poppet, lazing around the garden in the warmth of the sun watching the clouds floating by breathing in the air releasing all the negative stuff from my mind. At night my garden comes alive with lights sparkling and twinkling in the dark from all the solar lights that make it look so pretty.
I love to sit in my garden watching the birds. Coal Tits, Sparrows and Wrens. All silhouetted by the sun shining down onto the Custard Yellow Barbarous. They fly free, without a care in the World, unrestricted by Government Regulations. Choosing to build their nests, lined with softest Llama wool, wherever they want. Six nests, safe in the Holly Bush, each twittering with hungry mouths to feed. Soon, they will fledge, fly away, to be replaced by a second brood.
They show me that life still goes on. That Nature in all her wondrous ways triumphs. Often against the odds. I soak up the Sun’s warm rays and forget, feel great to be alive.
I love Forest Farm. Cycling there lifts my mood. People are friendly and fellow nature lovers, I feel connected to them in our city oasis. Last time a Great Tit fed from my hands. I felt so privileged. It’s an experience I will never forget.
Nature helps me to slow down, turn my face to the sun and breathe a bit deeper.
My Favourite place in nature
I stride on the cobbles and smell in the concoction of sea air and fish and chips. The sky is blue and the pier is alive, with energy, candy floss and Brighton rock engulfs my senses.
The seagulls perch on the cliffs as the sun radiates the beauty of the sea.
Gan ddymuno Nadolig Llawen iawn ichi a’ch teuluoedd a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda
Wishing you and your families a very happy Christmas and New Year
For a festive workshop with Ty Canna we designed a simple template of a house, so that each participant was then able to decorate it themselves, with an LED light to go inside, so the participants could carry their design to a small garden around the house. We spent a fabulous session talking about home, our lives and hopes for the future, whilst making our festive houses, all with much laughter!”
(Emma Jones, Arts Facilitator, Breathe Creative)
This year we have been been very lucky to have had the opportunity to share creativity with amazing people, with many challenges, working mostly on line and using creativity for wellbeing.
This has been such a hard year for everyone, but we have shared, laughed, cried, created, co-operated and connected.
Thank you to all our participants, funders, friends and partner organisations. We look forward to working with you in 2021.
I am pleased to announce that I have received funding from the Arts Council of Wales‘ Stabilisation Fund for the project ‘Co-Creative Arts – A Work in Progress’. I will be working collaboratively with project development workers Katja Stiller (freelance Creative Expression Specialist) and Rhys Hughes (Counsellor/ Trainer/ Social Worker).
In this project we will be developing and exploring our Co-Creative Arts approach through experiential and sharing sessions with Community Artists and partners in Wales during, and coming out of, the Covid-19 Lockdown.
This such an important time of change and this project will form part of an exciting creative response within Community Arts in Wales. We will be questioning how we can best adapt our creative work and practice for the new ‘normal’ world of the future.
This will inform the development of our Co-Creative approach and we will be documenting how Community Artists are working in the current situation; their issues, concerns, creative solutions and what they might need in terms of support, safeguarding, training and their own wellbeing.