Mental Illness Patients Join UCLan Students for “Being Human” Art Exhibition

Service user idol

Mental health inpatients and UCLan students have teamed up for an art exhibit next week.


Participants in the art sessions at the Guild Lodge in Lancashire and the South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust in Preston and at the Skylark Center at the Royal Preston Hospital have teamed up to create works of art representing the concept of ‘human being’.

The project, led by speakers from UCLan, Guild Lodge occupational therapist Mark Love and Skylark rehabilitation consultant psychiatrist Dr Emily Kaye, saw inpatients and students get down to the drawing board to create art based on their personal experience.

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Barbed wire deer

The exhibition will take place from November 23 to 26 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the PR1 gallery of UCLan.

Quoting contemporary English artist Grayson Perry, Mark Love said: “A world without art is an inhuman world. Making and consuming art lifts our spirits and keeps us sane.

“Art, like science and religion, helps us make sense of our life, and to give meaning is to make us feel better. We place great importance on patient-centered care, which is about being human and treating our service users and caregivers with the same respect as all human beings.

“We use the arts as a therapeutic tool for the benefit of individuals. The sessions help us assess people’s skills and strengths as well as their needs.

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The exhibition event poster

Love said he helps people socialize, mix and improve their cognitive skills and provides a different role than patient, providing service users with a sense of control, self-esteem, communication and understanding. confidence.

The pieces, created by students and service users, will be presented side by side at an exhibition in November in an art gallery at UCLan.

Love said: “One of our service users chose to focus on his idol, a soccer player.

“He felt that art was an important part of his life and made him feel human at a time when he often felt alone with his anxieties and sanity. He remembers drawing while listening to football and how it is an important memory and an inspiration to him.

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Another group produced a piece called Barbed Wire Deer, performed in one of the Acquired Brain Injury services. The work portrays the importance of nature and being outdoors, especially for hospital patients facing restrictions.

The deer represents nature and tranquility, paying homage to the deer often seen on the grounds of Guild Lodge. The barbed wire represents the Covid and the confinement.

Lowri Dowthwaite, Senior Lecturer in Psychological Interventions at UCLan, said: “From a lecturer’s perspective, it is a joy to receive and comment on such unique work.

“The creative process allows for many self-discoveries and interesting conversations that would not be possible with a traditional essay or exam assessment. The very fact that we collaborate with Guild Lodge and Skylark is part of this creative journey.

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Dr Gillian Rayner, reader and associate professor in counseling and psychotherapy at UCLan, also commented on the project.

Dr Rayner said: “We are looking forward to our first joint art exhibition. We enjoyed connecting the creative projects of our UCLan students to their journeys in counseling and psychological therapy by working with experienced staff from our partner organizations.

“We hope this is the start of a wonderful collaborative, creative and innovative partnership.”

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