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Photo Credit: Sandra Noeth

Sandra Noeth is a dramaturge, cultural scholar and curator based in Berlin.

Her research interests include “integrity and protest in relation to the human body,” the connection between aesthetics and politics, and “bodies in bordering situations” (CREATE Ireland + Dublin Dance Festival).

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Photo Credit: Siobhan Davies Dance and Dublin Dance Festival

As part of her residency with Dance Limerick and Dublin Dance Festival Sandra Noeth showcased her ideas involving movement and environments. She asked these questions: “How might physical and choreographic strategies represent, implement, legitimise and rehearse social and political action?” and “How do empathy, presence, improvisation or compositions inform the experience of borders?” (Dublin Dance Festival Programme)

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Photo Credit: The World Atlas of Street Art by Rafael Schacter. Artists: David Renault and Mathieu Tremblin

Movement is integral to art production, the making of place and composing identity in relation to social and political environments. Art therapy involves the art of movement, and can contribute to an understanding of aesthetics and politics. An examination of borders is part of art therapy – making lines demarcating personal distinctions and demonstrating the crossing-over into new areas of discernment. Art therapy can also inform protests that are both personal and socially informed.

Art therapy marks out routes of passage within a designated space, it can design sequences of movement and denote a body in motion. Compositions on the move, explorations of environment, and art influenced by context that simultaneously re-imagines space according to somatic knowledge.

The art therapy studio can also include the world-at-large.

Art therapy contributes to civic dialogue – art therapy asking complicated questions about expression and representation in civil society.

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“I am currently working both as a curator as well as an academic researcher on understanding the role, status and agency of the body in bordering processes. I am looking at different experiences of borders and boundaries – national and geopolitical, architectural, material and built borders, as well as more symbolic, imagined, social, gender-related ones. They are very often negotiated through the body, through movement, physicality and performativity. And I question how the body, how movement-based strategies can inform us about these processes. How for example practical and theoretical knowledge from dance and choreography, how composition and improvisation, embodiment or somatic modes of attention, rhythm and affects might help us understand the experience of bordering but also how borders are staged, aestheticized, rehearsed, represented, and ultimately legitimised maintained or challenged”

(Sandra Noeth Quotations, from CREATE (National Development Agency for Collaborative Arts, Ireland), News/May 2017, Sandra Noeth on “Bodies, Borders and Movement” an interview with Deirdre Mulrooney)

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Photo: The Nature Studio, An Interactive Exhibition of Artworks by Service Users of St. John of God North East Services (Ireland) for Culture Night, An Tain Arts Centre, Dundalk, County Louth

Research highlights the importance of the artwork or object in helping people make connections and tell their own stories. The research refers to the “symbolic potential” objects have, and uses psychosocial theories to explore this. I have seen this theory in action when looking at artworks and objects with people who, when given permission to speculate and make open and personal responses, will make strong connections and often refer to their own life experiences and emotions. The artwork or object is a thing outside of the individual and as such allows us to project inner thoughts and feelings onto it, talking about what is personal without the fear of direct exposure that being asked directly to talk about oneself might bring. Telling stories about one’s life is often the basis of psychological therapies and I believe that gallery collections can work in this way too (Leisa Gray, ‘What Have Art Galleries got to do with our Mental Health?’)

An art gallery is a permissive space for discussing human experience, a place to reflect upon personal and social relationships. As an environment for both speculation and discussion, it can broaden perspective and offer a supporting structure for considering ideas that can impact an overall sense of well being. The gallery can also be considered a studio within which to meet our selves, as we encounter its surroundings stimulating different kinds of subjective experiences.

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Photo: Tree Prints from The Nature Studio

During the course of a presentation to the Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists, American art therapist Joan Phillips (University of Oklahoma) outlined how galleries could be utilised within the practice of art therapy. She discussed ways in which galleries could be understood as both interactive spaces for the activation of human experience, and holding environments that evoke memory and association. Overall, art galleries are places for responsiveness through conversation, reflection and art production.

Evidence suggests that art gallery based interventions offer a safe environment for people to develop narratives that promote recovery and well being. In their article “The Art Gallery as a Resource for Recovery for People who have Experienced Psychosis,” Colbet, Cooke, Camic and Springham (2013) discuss how personal stories evoked in art galleries, contradict the imposition of therapeutic narratives in health care systems, where the service user may feel they are receiving treatment rather than co-participating. Accessing the arts within a gallery setting, strengthens validation, empathy, conversation, commonality and facilitates more genuine relationships between participants and therapists. The value of an art gallery is its location outside the realm of health care services. The art education and critical analysis engendered within art galleries also offers a venue for intellectual reasoning, contemplation, and debate.

Through engagement with artworks, artists, gallery staff, and art materials art therapy participants are offered a focus within which to explore life situations. It is also an opportunity to experiment and explore different ways of understanding, through examining diverse frames of reference. An art gallery mediates new knowledge, experiences and relationships evoking personal and social themes.

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Ideas for Making a Gallery a Therapeutic Space

1.  Visit the art gallery ahead of time and find out about the exhibition you are going to see. Talk to gallery staff and research the artists, their materials, and research information about the artworks.

2. Decide what aspects of the exhibition you are going to visit. You might select a few key pieces to discuss, in regards to themes, materials, imagery or artists represented.

3. Bring along portable art materials, which can be distributed to participants, for the purpose of recording creative responses, ideas, notes, etc. Hardcover sketchbooks facilitate walking and mark making.

4. Encourage participants to create responses to the artworks. This can be done through both words and images. Any questions, reflections, opinions, etc. can also be included within participant’s sketchbooks.

5. Find a quiet place within the gallery to meet and discuss the exhibition. Many art galleries have public education rooms or studios which can be booked for this purpose. Additional art materials can be distributed to document imagery related to the exhibition.

6.  An art gallery is a place to voice disagreement or controversy. It is vital for participants to have an opportunity to voice their opinions, as they may not have had positive experiences of asserting their point of view in the past within a public space.

7. Pay special attention to exhibition literature, as there may be text and images within gallery brochures, which will evoke further discussion.

8. Exhibition postcards, free magazines, etc. can be taken away as a souvenir of the gallery visit.

9. Community education staff from the gallery can offer a welcoming atmosphere and contribute additional content to enhance your visit.

10. A field trip to an art gallery can become a punctuation point within a series of art therapy sessions, whereby the visit to the gallery illuminates therapeutic themes, which can then be further explored in subsequent art therapy sessions.

Links

1. What have art galleries got to do with our mental health? By Leisa Gray http://www.fullcirclearts.co.uk/features/what-have-art-galleries-got-to-do-with-our-mental-health/

2. Colbert, S. , Cooke, A., Camic, P., Springham, N. (2013) “The Art Gallery as a Resource for Recovery for People who have Experienced Psychosis”, The Arts in Psychotherapy, 40, pp. 250-256

3. Arts and Health Ireland

A website of arts and health information, news, case studies and research in Ireland.

http://www.artsandhealth.ie

 

 

Chil. Power.

Illustration: Art Makes Children Powerful, Bob and Roberta Smith, The Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, Ireland

“Art Out Loud is a channel for communication, a place to build ideas, to disagree, and to figure out the role of art in everyday life”

The following is a summary of a gallery based arts and health project which took place during February-April 2014 at The Basement Gallery, Dundalk (County Louth, Ireland) called Art Out Loud: What Art Means to Children. The project combined both an exhibition of contemporary artworks and an installation of children’s assemblages of personal objects. The project was supported by Create Louth: The Arts Service of Louth Local Authorities. 

Art Out Loud offered children the opportunity to talk about their lives while they debated the meaning of a selection of artworks that form part of the County Louth Art Collection. The artworks were selected on the basis of their relevance to the lives of children aged 10-12, and their capacity to provoke discussion, critical thinking and expression. The art evoked themes related to loss, confusion, identity, protest, and gave voice to a variety of inter-personal themes.

Art Out Loud began as soon as children started walking from school to visit The Basement Gallery. Along the way they viewed commissioned graffiti murals which offered an introduction to both street and public art, and to the topic of contemporary art as a whole.

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Photos: Graffiti Murals Viewed by Children on the way to Art Out Loud by artist Barry Finnegan

The children brought along personal objects from both home and school which they de-constructed and re-assembled as part of an installation environment developed by participants in response to the The Art out Loud exhibition. The children came with sports gear, books, craft materials, puzzles, games, stuffed animals, magazines, clothing accessories, family photographs, and toys from early childhood. The children explored how creating a site specific environment can change the appearance and feeling of a gallery space, reshaping it to meet their own needs. The idea of found objects or ‘readymades’ being art materials was a new experience for the participants, who immediately felt comfortable with these familiar and relevant symbols of their lives. The freedom to take objects apart and re-combine them offered the children a liberating approach to art making.

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Photos: Participants from Art Out Loud and their Artworks

Teachers and students were given references to artist websites and information about the project prior to their arrival. Each class also previewed artworks from the Art Collection of County Louth (Taisce Lú) on the Create Louth website http://www.createlouth.ie.

During the course of their visit, each class also received a package of exhibition catalogues showcasing previous exhibitions at the gallery, which would become the basis of subsequent classroom art activities related to contemporary art.

As a context for both discovery and reflection, a gallery offers a supportive structure for considering ideas that impact children’s analysis of both themselves and others. Here the stories of artists connect with the stories of children. As a result children examine their own perspectives. Participants explored how art can be a way to understand what is important to them. A way of sharing childhood experiences, thoughts, and points of view.

The following artworks were included as part of The Art Out Loud exhibition:

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Photo: Omin Barry Finnegan, K’Blamo 2009, The Art Collection of County Louth (Taisce Lú)

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Photo: Brian Hegarty, Allegory and Self, The Art Collection of County Louth (Taisce Lú)

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Photo: Elaine Griffin, Untitled, The Art Collection of County Louth (Taisce Lú)

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Photo: Catherine Hearne, The Ticklish Sweet Sensation, The Art Collection of County Louth (Taisce Lú)

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Photo: Breda Marron, Inner Sanctum, The Art Collection of County Louth (Taisce Lú)

Each student generated a symbolic ‘tag’ for their identity as an artist, which they included in their collaborative installation. The tags also included comments by the children about the exhibition and their experience making art from personal objects. Students called Art Out Loud “crazy and epic” an “interesting and exciting place” and a space where they were “so happy”.

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Photos: Art Out Loud Tags Used by Children, Incorporating Code Names and Feedback 

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Photos: Art Out Loud, Deconstructed and Re-Created Personal Items

An art gallery offers the potential of new knowledge, the possibility of reflecting upon identity and well being. It is a place to find one’s bearings, to gather thoughts, and to make sense of the world at large. Art offers a springboard for communication; it is a way to connect with others, to discuss points of view, and to disagree. Art Out Loud participants described contemporary art as a way of making something out of nothing, of building thoughts with materials, and learning about life in different ways.

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Photos: Art Out Loud

Responses from Principals and Teachers

“My teachers said it was amazing”

“The pupils responded to the pieces of art in a way which far exceeded my expectations. The explanations and insights provided for each piece of art were great and thought provoking”

“The facilitation was excellent, each child was listened to, and the artwork was very varied and suited all tastes. An exhibition like this is very beneficial for teachers who may feel that they do not know enough about art to facilitate a lesson with students”

“The exhibition and the work the children made were really thought provoking. The children really responded to the artworks on display and enjoyed making their own installaton. They made some really fascinating work!”

“The children connected with the contemporary artworks. The children absolutely loved the day and enjoyed the sense of freedom from doing their own art. The exhibition showed how accessible contemporary art can be for children”

“A great experience seeing art work locally, very enriching. The children really engaged with the art pieces and made some deep comments! I think we might have some future artists among us”

“I was delighted to see how animated and involved the children became. This exhibition and workshop will help them understand on a practical basis that art takes many forms”

“It was a very rewarding experience for the class to see art in action, to be able to express opinions regarding what they liked or disliked. Looking at contemporary art, graffiti, sculpture, and understanding how they became art was a new experience”

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Miguel Angel Blanco has developed a collection of wooden boxes as a forest library, containing the findings from intentionally symbolic walks. These collections are his journals imprinted with journeys taken from the past thirty years. The Biblioteca del Bosque (Library of the Forest) is housed in the basement of his home in Madrid. Miguel’s walks are primarily taken within the Guadarrama Mountains outside of Madrid. The library as a whole is an evolving sculpture, it is also an ecology of life, documenting Miguel’s communications with nature.

His library comprises more than a thousand wooden “book-boxes” each of which is a reliquary or cabinet containing the objects and substances (snakeskin, quartz crystals, resin, elm leaf) gathered along the course of a particular walk. Each of these micro-terrains represents a completed journey; but the library itself – ever growing – is a compound pilgrimage without visible end (Robert Mcfarlane, ‘Rites of Way: Behind the Pilgrimage Revival’, The Guardian, June, 2012).

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Miguel Angel Blanco, Artist Statement

The Library as sculpturing life project, is a work open to nature’s vastness, carried out with the same slowness and steadiness with which a tree grows, a symbiosis between the right angle and the biologic form. I share with oriental art the wish to achieve an organic composition, in which fullness represents substance and emptiness the circulation of vital breaths, joining in this way the finite and the infinite, like creation itself. Maybe the goal of the work could be to understand the universe’s secret language, to create a great mystery from the starting point of a piece of fern or a drop of resin. To be an echo of the ephemeral. To establish communication with the universe and receive an answer from it…

Art is experience. The simple action of walking about the forest’s paths opens the eyes to the essential, increases receptivity and tunes the senses. The walker is on the watch, on a constant alert, trying to see in the landscape more than the usual, expanding reality. The forest creates an inner state of serenity, pureness and optimism (Miguel Angel Blanco, The Forest’s Library, http://www.bibliotecadelbosque.net/la-biblioteca-del-bosque/)

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The idea of a book being a collection of objects that are ideas, moments of time, landscape, and movements held within a box vessel, can be a vital medium of artistic practice within art therapy. A walk can be taken alone on accompanied by others within an art therapy journey that involves the surrounding habitat within a rite of discovery. The words of thought and feeling held within the significance of objects selected, illustrate and enact a psychological quest. This is a language of wandering and finding significance in what is close at hand. The book is an installation that can be handled and read in many ways. Time is contained within the dimensions of the book’s architecture. The composition of the book, reveals itself as a structural building, a home place for an ephemeral story.

Miguel Angel Blanco, Artist Statement

The book, ultimate tool for the transmission of knowledge, is not composed of words in my case. The language spoken is another. It is the fragment of nature capable of communicating a whole world, which words can only approach. Silent invocations. All components of my books originate in nature’s realms, even the wood of the boxes and the different papers – subtle transformation of wooden hearts – of the pages on which I draw. In fact, books have an important relationship with trees, even etymologically, for the Latin word liber (= book) also means the living part of the tree’s bark….

The box is a small recondite sanctuary, a sancta sanctorum. Sealed with glass, hermetic, to preserve its contents, it is at the same time ark, essence-container, shrine and crucible. Moss, lichen, barks, needles, pine cones, pollen, brambles, fungi, wax, roots, earth, minerals or resins are some of the materials I have collected. Materials that liberate secret images. Unfathomable abysses, deep lakes, infinite spaces, storms, creeks, fires… may open inside a small box. One may even contemplate the creation of the universe in a drop of resin. Microlandscapes. The box-book is the memory of the immemorial. But we will never be able to span the infinity of the inner dimension (Miguel Angel Blanco, The Forest’s Library, http://www.bibliotecadelbosque.net/la-biblioteca-del-bosque/).

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References

Miguel Angel Blanco, Biblioteca del Bosque http://www.bibliotecadelbosque.net/la-biblioteca-del-bosque/

Robert Mcfarlane, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot.

In recent years most of the old asylums and mental hospitals have closed or are in the process of closure. Care for those who seek it, or are deemed to need it, will now be provided on a model of community-based care. This is to be welcomed. However, it is important to remain vigilant at all times to ensure the protections of individual dignity and personal autonomy and to resist their compromise. This is a moral responsibility for all of us as citizens and human beings. Meaningful transformation of psychiatric services must be accompanied by a transformation of social and political attitudes to mental illness and difference (Alan Counihan, Personal Effects, Exhibition Catalogue).

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Photos from Personal Effects Exhibition

Personal Effects: A History of Possession is the title of an exhibition by Alan Counihan which showcases the personal belongings of patients admitted to Dublin’s Richmond Asylum (opened in 1815) which subsequently became St. Brendan’s Hospital. Every possession taken from individuals admitted to hospital was ultimately tagged and stored until the person’s release from the asylum. However, a large proportion of these personal items were never returned, nor claimed by families after the patient’s release or death.

These personal effects, found in 2010 during the closing of St. Brendan’s Hospital, were discovered alongside an extensive archive of hospital records. In total 30 tons of paperwork was removed from St. Brendan’s including patient records, death certificates, personal letters, receipts, prayer books, diaries, and photographs. These items have remained confidential, yet forgotten, abandoned within the decay of a building responsible for the isolation, despair and exclusion of thousands of people, who were admitted without the potential of release. These collections are now an archive of psychiatric practices in Ireland.

Alan Counihan has composed an installation of lost personal possessions choosing handbags, their contents, and assembled displays of rosary beads to represent abandoned identities. This is an installations about taking away life – severing connections to family, friends, home, locality, and ultimately to life experiences that bestow identity with meaning.

For the most part, the contents of the handbags and small cotton sacks were not extraordinary. These were items of personal care and hygiene, powder compacts and lipstick, combs and hairpins, identity or ration cards, diaries, letters, photographs, rosary beads and prayer books. All the bags contained sets of keys, sometimes several, to doors and cabinets their owners might never again have seen or opened (Alan Counihan, Personal Effects, Exhibition Catalogue).

These items are the remains of lives that have been dislocated, lost unto themselves and the outside world. Individuals convicted to a life time of confinement and regulation. Lives that suffered, when their dignity was discarded with the assignment of an admissions signature.

Inmates as they were then known came from all walks of life and from every county in the country. Their confinement was often for reasons or afflictions common or familiar to us all. Some of the causes of the afflictions appear in the register as disappointed affections, pecuniary distress, religious enthusiasm, supposed hereditary causes, paralysis, jealousy, domestic affliction, continued and excessive drunkenness, grief, falls, fright, and, most surprisingly of all, too much reading (Alan Counihan’s Website, http://www.alancounihan.net, Personal Effects Description)

For art therapy personal collections offer affiliation and resonance, they are attachments to places, people and possessions. A collection designates identity in all its routines and eccentricities. It is a gathering of memories intertwined with current experiences. Our possessions bring comfort and a tactile holding on to ourselves.

Involving personal memorabilia, keepsakes, and everyday items within art therapy creates an installation of life. An assembling of personal symbols that can articulate preferences and influences. These objects are most intimately our own encapsulation.

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Photo: Alan Counihan, Handbag Containing Spoons 

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Photo: Alan Counihan, Cards and Letters St. Brendan’s Hospital

Reference:

Alan Counihan’s Website: http://www.alancounihan.net

Research highlights the importance of the artwork or object in helping people make connections and tell their own stories.  The research refers to the “symbolic potential” objects have, and uses psychosocial theories to explore this.  I have seen this theory in action when looking at artworks and objects with people who, when given permission to speculate and make open and personal responses, will make strong connections and often refer to their own life experiences and emotions.  The artwork or object is a thing outside of the individual and as such allows us to project inner thoughts and feelings onto it, talking about what is personal without the fear of direct exposure that being asked directly to talk about oneself might bring.  Telling stories about one’s life is often the basis of psychological therapies and I believe that gallery collections can work in this way too (Leisa Gray, What have art galleries got to do with our mental health?)

An art gallery is a permissive space for discussing human experience. It is a place to reflect upon personal and social relationships. As an environment for both speculation and discussion, it can broaden perspective and offer a supporting structure for considering ideas that can impact an overall sense of well being.

Through engagement with artworks, artists, gallery staff, and art materials art therapy participants are offered a focus within which to explore life situations. It is also an opportunity to experiment and explore different ways of understanding, through examining diverse frames of reference. An art gallery mediates new knowledge, it can also be a place to find one’s bearing, to gather thoughts and make sense of one’s position in life.

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Photo: The Ark, An Arts and Culture Venue for Children, Dublin

In a recent article, “Art Galleries Should be Apothecaries for our Deeper Selves”  (The Guardian, October 10, 2013) philosopher Alain de Botton writes:

In my ideal museum, you would enter into the lobby and find a map showing galleries devoted to a range of topics with which we often need help: work, love, family, mortality, community, status, anxiety. In the gallery of love, for example, you might be shown Pisano’s Daphnis and Chloe, a deeply evocative reminder of the sense of gratitude and wonder with which most of us start relationships, but all too soon abandon (art is a superlative memory-bank for precious emotions that otherwise disappear). The gallery might then move us on to a Richard Long sculpture, where highly irregular and jagged stones were brought into harmony within a perfect circle, a metaphor for the way our own differences would ideally be accommodated in relationships.

Through such themed galleries, art would start to serve psychology in the same way it has served theology for centuries. A walk through a museum of art would amount to a structured encounter with a few of the emotions which are easiest for us to forget but life-enhancing to remember. Arranged in this way, museums of art would then be able to claim that they really had fulfilled that excellent but as yet elusive ambition of becoming substitutes for our cathedrals and churches in a rapidly secularising society.

Cork Exhibition

Photo: Living/Loss: The Experience of Illness in Art exhibition at The Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork, November 2012- March 2012.

Ideas for Making a Gallery a Therapeutic Space

The following are some ideas for using an art gallery as a therapeutic space:

1. Bring along portable art materials, i.e. sketch books, pencils, charcoal, graphite, markers, etc. These materials will be distributed to participants, for the purpose of writing down notes, responses, ideas, and drawings, etc.

2. Visit the art gallery ahead of time and find out about the exhibition you are going to see. Talk to gallery staff and research the artists, art mediums, and stories behind the artworks.

3. Decide what parts of the exhibition you are going to view, in relation to your scheduled time frame. You might select a few key pieces to discuss, in regards to the themes, titles, imagery or artist biographies represented. The artworks you view should relate to metaphors of your art therapy participants’ life experiences. These themes can be discussed in a conversational way, as they are examples of human experience that we all share. You might pre-determine some questions and reflections about the artworks, so that you are prepared to lead a discussion with your group.

4. Encourage everyone to write down notes about the exhibition and their responses to the artworks. This can be done through words and drawings. Any questions, reflections, opinions, etc. can also be included within participant’s sketchbooks.

5. Find a quiet place within the gallery to meet and talk about the exhibition. Many art galleries have public education rooms which can be booked for this purpose.

6. It is okay for participants not to like the artworks in a particular gallery.  An art gallery is a place to voice disagreement or controversy. It is important for people to have an opportunity to voice their opinion, as they may not have had positive experiences of asserting their point of view in the past.

7. Pay special attention to exhibition literature, as there may be text and images in gallery brochures, which will evoke discussion points.

8. Exhibition postcards, free magazines, etc. can be taken away as a souvenir of the gallery visit.

Photo: Image included in the article “Working on the Edge: Exploring the Role of an Art Therapist to that of an Artist in an Arts and Health Context – Similarities, Differences, Requirements.”  An article published in the Journal of the Association of Creative Arts Therapists (2011, Ireland) by John McHarg (Art Therapist), Marie Brett (Visual Artist) and Ed Kuczaj (Art Therapist and Head of the Department of Art Therapy and Continuing Visual Education at Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork).

Links

1. What have art galleries got to do with our mental health? By Leisa Gray http://www.fullcirclearts.co.uk/features/what-have-art-galleries-got-to-do-with-our-mental-health/

2. Arts and Health Ireland

A website of arts and health information, news, case studies and research in Ireland.

http://www.artsandhealth.ie

3. Co-Founder of the Museum and Galleries Special Interest Group (British Association of Art Therapists) Sian Hutchinson’s website combines her work as an art therapist with arts and health consultation for museums and art galleries. She works under the name of ArtB (A Reason to Be).

http://artb-at.com/contacts-me.html

Sian’s work in musueums and art galleries is profiled in a number of projects listed on her website. One of these at the Oriel Ynys Mon Gallery and Museum in Wales outlines some aims and outcomes of work within a gallery setting.

http://artb-at.com/galleries-and-museums/oriel-ynys-m-n-gallery.html

4. A new book entitled Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong, is a component of Visual Art Therapy, a method of therapy where references to gallery based works of art are used as remedies for difficult life situations. A description of Art as Therapy is as follows:

It’s the authors’ contention that certain art works provide powerful solutions to our problems, but that in order for this potential to be released, the audience’s attention has to be directed towards it in a new way (which they demonstrate), rather than towards the more normal historical or stylistic concerns with which art books and museum captions are traditionally associated. The authors propose that the squeamish belief that art should be ‘for art’s sake’ has unnecessarily held back art from revealing its latent therapeutic potential.

This book involves reframing and recontextualising a series of art works from across the ages and genres, so that they can be approached as tools for the resolution of difficult issues in individual life.

The website linked to the publication of Art as Therapy is http://www.artastherapy.com/

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Photo: The alleyway outside Catalyst Art Gallery, Belfast. A site for outdoor art during the Northern Ireland Group for Art as Therapy Summer School, 2013.

Galleries are emerging locations for art therapists to expand their practices to include new possibilities for engagement with clients and community groups (Colbert, S. , Cooke, A., Camic, P., Springham, N. (2013) “The Art Gallery as a Resource for Recovery for People who have Experienced Psychosis”, The Arts in Psychotherapy, 40, pp. 250-256).

The British Association of Art Therapists has a new special interest group devoted to art therapy in the context of art galleries. The goal of this special interest group is to explore how art therapy can become situated within cultural spaces. The potential of art galleries collaborating in the practice of art therapy, transports art therapy into public thoroughfares, where the boundaries of therapeutic practice are enlarged by the influences of artists, their methods, materials, and ideas.

During the course of a presentation to the Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists, American art therapist Joan Phillips (University of Oklahoma) outlined how galleries could be utilised within the practice of art therapy. She discussed the ways in which galleries are interactive spaces for the discussion of human experience. She believes they are holding environments, places that evoke memory and associations. Art galleries encourage responsiveness and expression through conversation and art production. By encouraging reflection art galleries can be used to harvest themes which make connections between art and personal experience.

Evidence suggests that art gallery based interventions offer a safe environment for people to develop narratives that promote recovery and well being (Colbert, S., Cooke, A., Camic, P., Springham, N., 2013). Personal narratives evoked in art galleries, contradict the imposition of therapeutic narratives in health care systems, where the service user may feel they are receiving treatment rather than co-participating. Accessing the arts within a gallery setting, strengthens validation, empathy, conversation, commonality and facilitates more genuine relationships between participants and therapists. The value of an art gallery is its location outside the realm of health care services. The art education and critical analysis engendered within art galleries also offers a venue for intellectual reasoning, contemplation, and debate.