Service user artwork to be displayed at art institution

Posted: 26/02/20

Artwork by children using services at an NHS Trust will be on display at a contemporary art institution.

The work of young people from Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), a provider of mental health and learning disability services, will be shown at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art on Gateshead’s Quayside from Thursday 27th February.

The exhibition is part of a joint project between CNTW and BALTIC called Artway. The project involved children aged 12-18 across Newcastle, Gateshead and Northumberland encouraging them to express themselves through art.

Funded by the Wellesley Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, BALTIC freelance artists and art therapists from CNTW ran sessions over three different cohorts looking at helping develop the young people’s creative skills and exploring the therapeutic aspects of the process.

The artwork on display ranges from clay and pencil drawings to paintings and prints, all created by young people using mental health services in the community.

Whittaker Scott, Head of Arts Therapies in the North of Tyne Children and Young People’s Service, said: “We believe that taking part in Artway offered the opportunity for young people to express themselves in meaningful ways. It has been a privilege working with the young people and it has been amazing to see what they have achieved.”

Vicky Sturrs, Head of Learning and Civic Engagement at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, said: “The mental health of young people in the region and indeed the country is a key concern for BALTIC. To be part of Artway and to understand more about the positive impact arts and culture can have on young people is something to be celebrated. This is something we will always value and continue to champion at BALTIC.”

The work follows a smaller-scale project from 2015 looking at the benefits of art therapy at BALTIC and how it can encourage young people to experience positive changes.

Details of the 2015 project have been included in a chapter in a book titled ‘Art Therapy in Museums and Galleries: Reframing Practice’, written by Whittaker Scott and art therapist from CNTW Michael Fischer.

The two main things the Artway project looked at were what a gallery experience could add to an art therapy group and the processes in the gallery sessions that can enable young people to experience positive change.

Artway gives young people a voice, support their wellbeing and provide opportunities for them to explore their creativity in a contemporary art gallery setting.

The exhibition celebrates the creativity of the young people involved and their engagement with a process based on conversation and personal expression. It is being held in BALTIC’s Learning Lounge and will run for approximately two months.

CNTW’s Children and Young People’s Service (CYPS) provides help for children and young people who are having problems with their mental health.