New Together exhibition explores horticulture as a way of cultivating mental well-being
Posted on 27, September 2011
This week, mental health charity Together launches a new exhibition that explores the positive impact of horticulture on mental wellbeing at its Our Space gallery in London, featuring artwork from mental health service-users, prisoners, young offenders and ex-offenders.
The exhibition is called Growing Together, after the charity’s 2011 initiative to encourage people to harness the positive power of gardening to nourish their mental well-being. Its purpose is to celebrate the work of this project and to highlight that being exposed to nature is one way in which people who are experiencing mental distress or isolation, can reconnect with themselves and their communities.
Painting and sculpture works will feature from artists associated with the following organisations: Together, Wish (a voice for women’s mental health), Clean Break, The Other Side Gallery, Skylight Crisis, The survivor’s poetry group, Feltham Young Offenders Institute (YOI), HMP Holloway, HMP Brixton, HMP / YOI ISIS ,The Manor Garden Centre and The Lismore Circus Community Woods group. Also work from New York playwright, poet and Psychoanalyst Frederick Feirstein will be on display.
Eve McDougall, curator at Together’s Our Space gallery and an artist and ex-prisoner herself said: “Gardens are a place of great solace and a powerful source of emotional escapism. Nature can help shape our thoughts and ideas and what we see can inspire us to create a response; art.
“We reached out to artists – some at liberty to breathe fresh air – some not, to give us their responses to gardens, horticulture and cultivated open spaces. Come inside and see the results.”
Shane Biddle, contributing artist and Together service-user said of his series of photographs ‘Violas’: “My artwork helps channel my anger; now when I sense those old feelings coming back, I pick up a camera or a paint brush and I feel a sense of calm.
“I usually work in acrylics and my work usually takes on darker themes. Flowers were a new thing for me, as is the medium of photography, so these pieces have really helped me grow as an artist”.
Javaugham, contributing artist from Feltham Young Offenders Institute, on his mixed media piece To walk in the park said: “My poetry and thoughts in print are transformed into texture and form; the trees come to life with my words”.
Suza Johnston, speaking on behalf of The Lismore Circus Community Woods group on their basket-woven fox sculptures said: “Following a day spent learning weaving techniques from The British Museum’s resident artist we made two foxes using plastic bags as our weaving ‘fabric’.
The exhibition runs from this Friday 30 September – 8 December and is open Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 5pm at the Together Our Space Gallery: 12 Old Street, London, EC1V 9BE. Admission is free. Nearest tube is Barbican.