Wandsworth-based arts charity Sound Minds is boosting people’s confidence through ceramics workshops. The sessions have been funded by a new NHS South West London small grants programme, for voluntary and community organisations, aimed at bringing people together and sharing health messages.
For Jewel, having a go at ceramics for the first time was an opportunity to beat the winter blues. “Working with clay has been very relaxing and a nice distraction from everyday life,” Jewel said. “I enjoyed the versatility of the clay and working in a different medium.”
People living with mental health struggles have faced increasing pressures this winter. But research has found that daily worries can be eased by trying a new art form and having time to talk in a relaxed atmosphere. Ceramics, in particular, has become popular since the launch of Channel 4’s The Great Pottery Throw Down in 2015, which raised awareness of its therapeutic benefits it can bring.
Sound Minds chief executive Chas de Swiet said: “The workshops enhance wellbeing through social interaction as well as the creative process itself, using clay both as a therapeutic and expressive medium.
“This programme gives us the opportunity to share vital health and well-being information and to reduce isolation so people can chat about their winter experience. It is a tough time for many at the moment and this a really useful and enjoyable way to start addressing this.”
The Wandsworth workshops offered an introduction to basic ceramic skills, starting with a presentation of artwork to give everyone plenty of inspiration.
Artist Sam Haynes, who has many years’ experience of supporting community arts activities, led the sessions. Says Sam: “We gave everyone the individual support to develop their creative ideas and skills. We focused on uplifting and rejuvenating elements within our everyday lives to encourage further discussion about wellbeing as the central theme.”
Claire also took part and found the sessions beneficial. “It was a lovely creative atmosphere and it is something I had not tried before. I’ve enjoyed the whole experience and would recommend it to anyone.” And for Antonia: “It gave me the chance to grow, develop and gain confidence in myself.”
Sound Minds is a charity, which aims to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing through music, film art and peer support. It helps people gain the skills they need to lead fulfilled lives within their community.
Anyone who needs support can refer themselves directly to the charity, while others join after recommendations from health and care services.
Says Chas: “Many of the Sound Minds members feel isolated in accessing resources and training due to their low levels of confidence and other barriers that they face”.
“Providing a safe and supportive environment allows them to take part in activities that they may otherwise have felt beyond their reach.”
Following the workshops, Sound Minds members can channel their newly-found enthusiasm for ceramics and develop their talents at a weekly group in the charity’s artist studios.
Sound Minds members have gone on to study in adult education and at art schools. The group also organises regular exhibitions in their gallery space, the Bloom Gallery and takes part in wider community events such as the Wandsworth Arts Festival.
Find out more on the Sound Minds website. Photos by Sam Haynes.