Held (2011)

Last Chance to See : ‘Held’ on show for the last time

The Start ‘Held’ exhibition is moving to Norton Priory Museum for Christmas and will be on show from 2 November  –  30 December 2011. This is the last chance to see this body of beautiful and thought-provoking work, and we hope you will be able to enjoy a visit during this time.

The Held exhibition focuses on maintaining a balance in a busy world. It includes multi-media sculpture, photography and animation made by people who use Start’s service (Start students).

All the artworks explore ways in which we hold the balance of our own wellbeing in hands, and reflect on how we can feel more powerful around protecting that wellbeing.

Start Lead Artist Wendy Teall explains:

‘People who attend Start have been investigating the idea of the power we have inside us to influence our mental wellbeing.

‘Each person has cast their own hand in plaster. They have then created an artwork to be held by that hand, which reflects their self-care strategies, experiences of illness and recovery, hopes, fears, aspirations, and ways in which creativity helps them to improve wellbeing.

‘The exhibits are witty, optimistic, poignant, reflective, provocative and above all personal.’

Working in partnerships

‘Held’ is part of the gallery partnership scheme that Start has devised, which delivers mental health services in art galleries, in partnership with gallery staff.  ‘Now, Voyager’ was the first exhibition in this scheme, and took place at the Whitworth Art Gallery. Working with galleries brings a range of new experiences to Start students, that they would not otherwise have.

Courses are designed to help students develop or enhance health management skills and coping strategies. Students each set personal goals for the course, and then assess themselves at the end to see how far they have progressed.

During the gallery course at Manchester Art Gallery we also worked in partnership with musicians from the Royal Northern College of Music, who helped students explore the effects of music on mood and perception. Students found this session especially interesting.

“I most enjoyed experimenting with the music, the different moods and styles… looking at art whilst having music played to me gave it another dimension, brought it alive…”

“I learned that music can affect how you think about art works… I feel I’m more aware of music now”

Following the course, students returned to Start to make their own artworks in the studios, reflecting on themes of self-care and wellbeing, for the exhibition planned by Manchester Art Gallery in 2009.  

A life-enhancing experience for service users

People who use Start’s service have found the project a life-enhancing experience:

“This project has made my mind open up to my problems and what can make me feel better when I’m down…”

“This was an opportunity to find positive messages about myself – this keeps me well.”

“This project has taught me to believe in myself. Because I have completed art work and seen the finished product it makes me proud of my work, my skills and my confidence.”

“For the first time in several years I have composed a piece of music. Writing it has reignited my self-belief… This project has helped me with rediscovering who I am. For the first time in a long time I am hopeful…”

“Thanks to Start and all the other services that helped me, I am back at work, doing a job that I enjoy. I would never be where I am now without that help.”

Read more about some of the people who participated in the project.

What visitors say about the exhibition

Visitors were bowled over by Held. Responses included:

“Great insight into what people experience”

“It’s absolutely stunning, absolutely amazing…”

“Fantastic, engaging, funny, cathartic and warm.”

“I was struck by the power and expressive impact of the artwork…”

“The exhibition is beautifully put together… the artistry so superb and the messages behind each exhibit are deeply profound. I found the whole experience visually stimulating, mentally thought provoking, and on a humanistic level, very humbling.”

Carers’ and families’ pride

The exhibition is a great opportunity for families and friends to share in the triumph of those artists displaying at the gallery.

“I’m really overwhelmed. I felt like filling up when I saw the display….I’m amazed by what my sister’s done.” said one family member.

“I very much enjoyed and greatly appreciated my observation of deep thought and the detail and great skill expressed within each of the exhibits”, added another. “May I express my profound gratitude to you for your dedication, tuition, and great kindness towards my brother, having inspired him with a new lease of life in his study of art.” 





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