Richmond mental health charity to host arts and well-being festival for National Stress Awareness Week

A mental health art charity in Richmond are hosting a festival to celebrate arts and well-being for National Stress Awareness Week next week.

Art & Soul, a Richmond based art charity which supports people with mental health, are launching this free week-long festival which encourages people to embrace their creativity and artistic side to improve positive emotional well-being.

The festival will begin on 1 November with the opening of the charity’s first ever virtual exhibition: “Cycles of Nature”, which is a fusion of art and the natural earth inspired by a return to nature during the Covid-19 lockdowns and features artwork created by the participants of Art & Soul programmes over the past 18 months.

Acting programme director at Art & Soul, Heather Whitt, 33, said: “The focus is completely on helping people to improve their mental health and well-being through art therapy techniques.

“These will be really playful sessions for people that want to explore art as a way of improving their mental health.

“It is important to not be worried about experimenting, art is a real tool for allowing us to not worry about our outcomes.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect. Anyone can be an artist and respect their own artistic ability.”

“Remnants of cycle of nature gone before to return once more” by Claire Elizabeth Hind

The festival, which is funded by the Civic Pride Fund, will have six online events and two in-person events.

Whitt urged people to book tickets for the online events as spaces are limited, however all are welcome, especially beginners.

The first in-person event is for adults and will be a workshop taster to give those that attend an idea of what they could experience at regular sessions with Art & Soul.

This will take place at The Vineyard Community Centre on 2 November at 4pm.

The second in-person event is the festival finale at ETNA Community Centre on 6 November at 2-4pm, this is for the whole family to attend and will include a range of fun, workshopping activities aimed towards younger people.

The in-person events are drop in sessions and do not need to be pre-booked.

“Untitled Tree” by Blindi

The festival will also offer a range of different online sessions; there will be a colour therapy session, where people will be invited to look at how colour and light can have an impact on our mental state, as well as a practical mindfulness session.

There will also be a metaphorical portraits session in partnership with Turner’s House in Richmond where those that attend will be encouraged to reflect upon themselves and draw a portrait of their emotional self, rather than their physical self.

Additionally, Art & Soul have collaborated with the October Gallery for a session which will provide a virtual tour of their most recent exhibition followed by a workshop.

Art & Soul have been operating in south west London since 1988, providing the community with a range of therapeutic arts workshops and other creative activities run by professional artists and art therapists to improve people’s mental health.

Festival tickets are free to book online via the Art & Soul website.

Featured image: ‘Reflection’ by Radhia Murad

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