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Fresh Art@ 2018 in Review

It has been a busy year for Fresh Art@, an innovative partnership project where Creativity Works has come together with Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust (AWP), The Bath Museum Partnership and Virgin Care to offer a unique opportunity for individuals living with mental health challenges to explore their creativity, improve wellbeing and increase independence and cultural connections.

Fresh Art@ started in 2014, with the seed coming from service users, nurses and others working on the ward who wanted to bring some colour to the walls of the clinical environments and enliven hospital spaces with meaningful artwork. The project has been developed over the years, and 2018 has been a colourful one indeed!

This year’s bright and bold collection of work was created over the course of 12 weeks, where the Fresh Artists’ met to work alongside lead artist Barbara Disney, Fresh Art worker Tasha Bee, volunteer Carolyn Trippick and museum staff. They spent 4 weeks at each of the museums, where they were able to explore, learn, create and be inspired.

These are a few words that the group wrote together about their experience of creating artwork at each of the museums…

The Holburne

During our time at The Holburne, we were inspired by the bright colours of the Anthony Fry exhibition. We also worked with a collection of curious Japanese objects called Netsuke, which were very small but incredibly detailed. We were able to touch and hold the Netsuke in our hands and some of the most bold and powerful images came from these tiny objects. We became obsessed with the colour gold, and it soon became a theme across our work.

[Netsuke inspired screen print]

No.1 Royal Crescent

The Royal Crescent has many different collections of curiosities. A lot of the work we created there has a domestic feel to it, which is reflected in the work we made there. We were working in what was once the servants’ hall, adjacent to the kitchen, which was full of very recognisable, basic objects that felt quite familiar. The further up in the house we would go, the stranger and more extravagant the objects became – for example an ornate flea-scratcher for those who had fleas under their wigs!

[Artwork at the Fresh Art@ exhibition inspired by No.1 Royal Crescent]

The American Museum

Perched in amongst the rolling hills on the outskirts of Bath, The American Museum was the last museum we visited, and by then it was springtime. The grounds are beautiful, and we felt enchanted by the panoramic views and lush green surroundings. The quilt collection was incredible, each quilt told a story, which led us to the idea of creating three collaborative pieces to tell the story of our journey on the project.

[Collaborative Quilts created by Fresh Art@ participants and led by Artist Barbara Disney ]

Being able to come together as a group in a safe, supportive and inspirational environment enables participants to express themselves, develop meaningful relationships with one another and explore creative processes. At the end of the project, the Fresh Art@ participants donate some carefully selected pieces to be framed and exhibited in a public exhibition, which is displayed as part of the Bath Fringe Festival. The artwork then takes it’s proud place as part of the Fresh Art@ collection, which is rotated around and displayed in the otherwise clinical NHS environments, enlivening the space and allowing participants to give something back.

As well as the 12 sessions in the community, there are also sessions with inpatients on the ward, this year printmaker Sophie Rae worked with the patients on Ward 4, which is a dementia ward. Alongside staff from the museums, they were inspired by the handling collections to create colourful monoprints.

[Prints created by dementia patients with artist Sophie Rae on ward 4 as part of the Fresh Art@ project]

“Creating the artwork, donating it and having it displayed in AWP buildings, as a service user is awesome! It’s giving back, it improves the environment for others and there is a sense of real value. The Fresh Art project is a very powerful concept and I hope that many more individuals have the same opportunity to engage and develop as I have through my participation.” * Quote from participant

Alongside the community project, Fresh Art@ is supporting creative projects on the wards and working with AWP to connect service users with creative groups in their community.

With the new year ahead, we are looking forward to the next Fresh Art@ project beginning in February and are currently taking enrolments. This project is a unique opportunity to support people in B&NES with mental health challenges. If you would like to to know more about taking part please contact Tasha natasha.beesley@nhs.net. The deadline for enrolments is 21st Jan 2019.

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