I am so excited to be able to announce that we have three programme submissions for this year’s Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF): a 24-hour sponsored paint-a-thon, a project called ‘My Frame of Mind’, which will explore the festival’s theme of ‘perspectives’, and an up-cycling craft day, ‘Plastic Fantastic’. All three will be happening in May 2020.
The paint-a-thon was a concept introduced to me by Emma Ehrenthal, a lovely art therapist in the area who I happened to meet in passing. She was part of a 48-hour paint-a-thon in Cambodia a few years back when she was working on a community art therapy project. I loved the sound of it – the communal aspect, the camaraderie, the large-scale finished piece and also just the pure wackiness of pushing through shifts to achieve a continuous painting marathon. The money they raised was to support more group work and I liked that aspect, too. I knew that I wanted to host a free event (or three!) in support of this year’s festival and thought a version of that, albeit a bit shorter, would work really well and also be a ton of fun. I had been talking to community mental health workers in the area, who had suggested that free crafting sessions for vulnerable and socially isolated members of the community would be helpful. S3o all the pieces just seemed to fall into place. The event will run from 12noon on Saturday 9th May until 12noon on Sunday 10th May 2020. All funds raised will support two five-week open crafting courses that are being designed and planned in conjunction with the Wellbeing College in Galashiels and will take place At Birkhill House in the Autumn/Winter months. The finished mural will hang on display for six months at the Borders General Hospital in Melrose.
‘My Frame of Mind’
‘My Frame of Mind’ was borne out of luck and circumstance. I have an inexplicable collection of frames that have come from years of poking around charity shops and junkyards. Recently, I have been thinking that I should really do something with them and started getting little flashes of inspiration – a frame hanging from tree here, another encasing a view into the alpaca field there. When I discovered that the festival’s theme this year is ‘perspectives’, it just seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up. After speaking to local groups, I managed to come up with a brief and some prompts for ways for people to be creative with the frames, whilst also exploring the ideas of perspective or changing perspectives as they relate to mental health. Finished pieces will be photographed and hang in the Old Laird’s Room in Old Gala House, Galashiels from 19th-30th May 2020.
‘Plastic Fantastic’ aims to bring together a number of different up-cycling crafting opportunities in one free afternoon of fun At Birkhill House. After rescuing a number of derelict trampoline frames, I was keen to find them some other use. I settled on using them as weaving looms, incorporating farm detritus (think baling plastic, old wire and twine) to make bright, colourful, large-scale woven creations. Along the way, Waste Aware Lauderdale signed on and we decided to make a day of it. There will be a chance to make teacup planters and trash mosaics, amongst other projects. Visitors will be encouraged to bring a picnic and stay for the afternoon. It will take place on Sunday 24th May 2020. Fingers crossed the weather cooperates!
In all of these projects, I am keen to emphasise the central tenants of the SMHAF in all works produced: challenge perceptions, make connections, develop audiences, encourage participation and (my favourite – ) create.
So, May will be a pretty busy month here! But I really wouldn’t have it any other way. For a while now, a lot of the planning and energy here has been focused around getting the commercial crafting programme off the ground, a process I have absolutely loved. For a lifelong crafter and a craft-lover, picking favourite makers and artists for a programme of events is a bit like being in a sweetie shop! And I love the fact that by running these workshops, other, amazing (free) opportunities for widening inclusion and encouraging creativity are generated.
At Birkhill House will always strive to strike a balance that bridges the two… with cats, goats, alpacas and all the menagerie thrown into the mix for good measure!
For more info on any or all of these, contact Lara on 07779 339 653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.