A Year of Drawing, launched in October 2017, is a year-long art project organised by Make Your Mark; the arts and health programme for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. The project aims to increase access to the arts for people facing mental health challenges and their carers through participatory drawing events across Sussex and Hampshire.
Funded by Heads On (Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s charity), through grants from Arts Council England, Chalk Cliff Trust, John Horniman’s Children’s Trust, Rockinghorse Children’s Charity and the Dixie Rose Findlay Charity, the project covers Sussex Partnership’s Adult Mental Health Services and Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
The project is being delivered by three commissioned artists (Jane Fordham, Jane Fox and Annis Joslin), alongside three Peer Arts Workers (people with lived experience of mental health challenges), and is made up of three participatory elements: public drawing workshops at cultural venues, pop up studios in NHS mental health settings, and a series of drawing-based Recovery College courses.
Since October, we have been delivering well-received drop in public drawing events in our nine cultural partner venues: Aspex Gallery (Portsmouth), Cass Sculpture Foundation (Chichester), De La Warr Pavilion (Bexhill), Fabrica Gallery (Brighton), Royal Pavilion and Museums (Brighton), Southampton Art Gallery (Southampton), The Hawth (Crawley), Towner Gallery (Eastbourne), and Worthing Museum (Worthing).
The public workshops have encouraged participants to explore the possibilities of drawing and mark making, with a range of activities and materials available to experiment with. During the public drawing event at Aspex Gallery in November 2017, participants had the chance to delve into the possibilities of animation using sand, flour, shaving foam, charcoal and rubbers. At Southampton Art Gallery in January 2018, artist Annis Joslin introduced the ‘accidental drawing game,’ where participants collaborated on a large scale concertina book installation. Other workshops have seen audiences take inspiration from gallery and museum collections, creating collages, quick sketches, wool sculptures, and large scale collaborative 2D and 3D works.
We’ve also been running drawing-based courses as part of Sussex Recovery College, which offers educational opportunities to support people in their journey to recovery. The courses are co-designed and co-delivered by the artists and Peer Arts Workers, and offer students the chance to learn about how drawing can support them in their mental health recovery journey. We’re just starting to roll out drop in pop up drawing studios in a variety of NHS settings, including on wards, in waiting areas, and for Sussex Partnership staff. The pop up studios aim to give people an opportunity to engage in drawing activities in a space they feel is safe and familiar.
Another element of the project is our outreach collection. We are working with three of our cultural partners: Cass Sculpture Foundation, Royal Pavilion and Museums, and Towner Gallery, to put together a Year of Drawing postcard collection of prints from the partners’ own collections. We hope this will mean that people who aren’t able to leave hospital or visit a museum or gallery will still be able to enjoy looking at art, potentially finding inspiration to try out some drawing activities.
The hope is that the project will be a stepping stone on the way to creating better and more sustainable links between local cultural organisations and the NHS, with arts venues being viewed as a safe space within local communities.
For more information about Make Your Mark or a Year of Drawing, please visit www.makeyourmarknhs.co.uk, emailed firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 07391 402311.