Busting the Blues in 2020

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21-26 January at Blue Door Gallery in Earlsdon, Coventry
An exhibition of artwork by Arty-Folks members

Blue Monday, the third Monday in January, is claimed to be the most depressing day of the year. The concept may be a gimmick and farcical but we can easily see how a combination of dark winter days, money being tight a month after the festive season and before payday, as well as hopes for a ‘new’ year not quite materialising can lead to feelings of low motivation.

Inspired by Aboriginal dot work members mapped out people and places past and present that help them feel grounded and connected and that they hold dear in their minds. In keeping with Aboriginal Art, these are maps of the heart and soul, rather than bricks and tarmac.

Far from making the day sound negative and melancholic, our exhibition ‘Busting the Blues’ rather aimed to inspire people to take action to ward off the ‘Blues Brothers’ (aka depression and anxiety), and make bold life decisions.

We all have good and bad days but there are times when everything seems so much harder and less worthwhile. What lifts us out of depression and anxiety are the things we truly enjoy in life like spending time with friends, reading a book, going for a walk, and being creative with a group of like-minded people at Arty-Folks.

Members explored what they do during the week that they enjoy and lifts their mood. Most interestingly there seems to be some common themes such as being creative (of course!) as well as taking a walk and enjoying being in nature. It seems we all share the feeling that nature has the ability to calm us and help us feel connected.

Liz Harvey, Art Program Manager:
“Our members artwork in this exhibition shows how they have stepped out of their comfort zone to explore what makes them tick, what helps them to enjoy life in the here and now. This was much harder than it seemed at first because ‘enjoy’ can too easily be mistaken with ‘consume’!”

What exactly is ‘creativity’ and why should we cultivate it? These pieces explore how we can use the transformative power of art to nurture personal growth and change. What makes human beings so different from all other creatures on this planet is our ability to create, to imagine something that has not existed before, and to work together to bring something new to life.

When you look in the mirror what do you see? Can you see yourself as you are, objectively? Or are you seeing yourself through the lens of flaws and imperfections? Through self-portraits members explored if we construct identity, if we ‘find’ ourselves by matching our talents and potential with available social roles.

Inspired by Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures members transformed single use plastics into colourful flowers.  ‘The last Jigsaw’ was created through a collaboration of all four Arty-Folks groups.

Busting the Blues marks the conclusion of three hugely important projects in the life of Arty-Folks:

– Peer Empowerment, People’s Health Trust, enabled us to provide enhanced support to our most vulnerable members who are struggling with hearing voices, intrusive thoughts and hallucinations. We ran a social programme that encouraged peer-to-peer support and facilitated meaningful friendships to blossom that will be lasting beyond Arty-Folks.

– Jumping through Hoops, Heart of England Community Foundation, enabled us to start our 4th weekly group Making Headway specifically for young adults 18-30 years old who are struggling to transition into adulthood.

– New Perspectives, Groundwork European Social Funds, we were able to support some of our most vulnerable and socially excluded members move closer to their chosen goals and to access employment and education.

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