Thanks to funding through the Lapidus International Regional Groups Fund 2018, we were able to deliver two 90-minute workshops led by writer and community educator Helen Boden at this year’s Moving Minds at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow on Saturday 26th May 2018.
Part of the annual Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, Moving Minds is a day of celebration with events exploring diversity and mental wellbeing around the theme of Beginnings. It’s a very popular and well-established event within Scotland’s arts and wellbeing calendar and has a strong track record of reaching minority communities and attracting people who haven’t been to a museum or engaged in arts activities before.
Here’s how we billed our two workshops (one was held in the morning and the other in the afternoon):
Lapidus Scotland presents Writing Beginnings: Self and Place with writer and community educator Helen Boden
Explore the health and wellbeing benefits of looking at art and creative writing. Use artworks at Kelvingrove to help you start to create your own story. No previous creative writing experience needed. Free but booking essential.
The workshops started off in the Looking at Art gallery where Helen asked participants to choose a painting which they found uplifting to focus on, jotting down their response to it in terms of liking/disliking/indifference. After about 20 minutes, we all went downstairs to the Education Room for the writing and discussion parts of the workshop.
Helen says, ‘My approach to the workshop was to give folks some starting points for writing in response to art, and a bit of space to engage with a work they found uplifting (and do some list-making / note-taking in relation to it) before retreating to a quieter education space to do some structured exercises to generate new writing. These involved considering the same detail in a picture from different points of view (a practice with both ’therapeutic’ and ‘creative’ ramifications).
We shared writing and constructive critique and also discussed how gallery visiting and gallery writing can be beneficial to wellbeing.
These are some of the ideas they came up with:
- - quiet, reflective space
- - escape
- - distraction through learning about another culture
- - distraction through learning about the past
- - blending of communal space and private thoughts
- - connecting with other people’s imaginations
- - inspiration
- - being in a public space long devoted to ‘expression’
- - visiting somewhere with family connections over several generations / with memories from childhood
- - freedom
- - slowing down / being in moment’
Responses to the workshop (from the afternoon group) included: New perspective / Energising /Refreshed / Jolted / Uplifted / Quite Difficult / Directed / Surprised / Idea-generating / Empowering / Practical’
Both workshops were fully subscribed – a group from the National Youth Theatre of Scotland took part in the morning session as research for their forthcoming show around mental health while the afternoon session attracted a good number who were new to Lapidus. The approach worked well for the two very different groups. The main difference Helen noted was that the NYTS group were much more detached and analytic in their responses to the artwork.
In addition to the two workshops, we manned a Lapidus Scotland stall with interactive writing activities, books and leaflets, giving us an opportunity to promote Lapidus International (we had plenty of flyers to hand) and raise the profile of our work and encourage new people to get involved. This proved popular and we had a good number of people taking part in our ‘Owl Vision’ and ‘Object Lesson’ activities as well as signing up to join our mailing list. The day also proved very useful on the networking front with new contacts made with Mental Health Foundation and the Scottish Recovery Consortium.
Article by Philippa Johnston - Creative Project Manager, Lapidus Scotland