Creativity and Wellbeing Week at the London Arts in Health Forum

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London Arts in Health Forum are proud to announce the Creativity and Wellbeing Week, running from Thursday 4 – Friday 12 June 2015. Now in its fourth year, there will be various events throughout London, celebrating the benefits of the arts on Health and Wellbeing. Events include exhibitions in hospitals, talks in galleries, walks, workshops and performances. Some events focus on specific treatments for a variety of health conditions such as using singing to improve lung capacity; dancing to reduce the risk of falling and painting to help cope with cognitive impairment. Other events look at how the arts help improve hospital environments. Generally, the week will reinforce the message that, immersing yourself in creative activity makes people feel better.

The theme of the week explores the relationship between mental well-being and the arts and highlights include – the opening event at the Royal Society for Public Health on Thursday 4 at 9am discussing the implications for arts and health following the general election. On Saturday 6, 2pm at Bethlem Gallery and Museum there will be an opportunity to tour the oldest psychiatric hospital in the world (which is still in use) and explore the contemporary and historic exhibitions on show, including Behold Continues to Retreat, curated by artist Mark Titchner. The exhibition combines artworks depicting uninhabited rooms, buildings and landscapes with a series of portraits placed directly opposite deserted spaces. The artist will also take part in a discussion about the relationship between mental health, creativity and perception. Bethlem Gallery Director, Beth Elliott also takes part in the panel discussion along with writer and broadcaster Iain Sinclair and London Arts in Health Forum Director, Damian Hebron. They will also be joined by artists who have been patients at the hospital – On Wednesday 10 at 6.30pm Tate Modern hosts Painting with my Back to the World, a panel discussion looking at the connections between mental health and the way we view the world. The event coincides with the first major retrospective exhibition of American artist Agnes Martin who had a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Martin constructed her paintings on a rational grid system, superimposing a network of penciled lines and later coloured bands, which reflected her perception of the world. Exhibition curator Frances Morris will be joined by a contemporary artist and a scientist to discuss some of the patterns and processes involved in Martin’s work. Finally, on Thursday 11, at 6.00pm at the Menier Gallery, there will be an informal event where people can discuss some of the topics covered during the week and look at Paintings in Hospitals, a showcase of various projected animated works.

In conjuction with these events there are many opportunities to see artwork in otherwise hidden places in London hospitals – including work by celebrated artists such as Bridget Riley, Brian Eno and Julian Opie; there are open days at organisations which support people with mental health difficulties such as Portugal Prints and Cooltan Arts; there are also dance lessons in hospitals and storytelling sessions for people with dementia.

Creativity and Wellbeing Week  is an opportunity to recognise and discuss the growing impact that taking part in the arts can have on health and wellbeing. By supplementing medicine and care, the arts can improve the health of people who experience mental or physical health problems. Engaging in the arts can promote prevention of disease and build wellbeing. The arts can improve healthcare environments and benefit staff retention and professional development.

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