Aerial shot of St George's Hall including St John's Gardens

Creativity at the ‘root’ of new exhibition

A giant sleeping bag, a caterpillar mosaic, a retro kitchen and inscribed love hearts will all be on display in a special exhibition highlighting the issue of mental health and wellbeing.

Launching on Wednesday (24 April) Thinking Back, Looking Forward showcases the work of 26 Liverpool community arts groups which have been funded through the 2012/13 Culture and Wellbeing Grassroots Programme.

The FREE eclectic display will take place in the new exhibition space in the basement of St George’s Hall. This is the first time in the four-year history of the funding programme, that the work of all the groups will be exhibited in a grand finale event.

The projects will be presented in a multi-media exhibition featuring visual arts, film, photography, sound and performance and will be open to the public from 25 April to the 6 May.

Projects on display include:
Out the Bag by Crass Routes – the organisation which works with those who are homeless and suffering with addiction has used music, poetry and dance to highlight key issues and a giant sleeping bag will form part of their display.
Community Panto at the Florrie by Dingle Community Theatre – working with residents of all ages the company have written and performed ‘A Lad in Dingle’ and costumes, posters and photographs will showcase their work.
Reviving Traditions, Revitalising Health by Dot Art – through exploring food for medicine, hygiene and nutrition for older people, Dot Art created films on the subject which will be projected in a retro kitchen.
Voices Never Forget by Merseyside People First – working with adults with learning disabilities to create, perform and record a song to raise awareness of learning disabilities, the song will be played at the exhibition with a selection of photographs revealing the journey to the finished product.

One of Liverpool’s leading creative agencies – as creatives – has been commissioned by the city council to curate the exhibition.

Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for Culture and Tourism, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “This will be an incredibly exciting showcase of months of hard work invested by these arts groups.

“The subject of mental health is extremely emotive and it’s really interesting to see the different approaches the organisations have taken in tackling different elements of this health issue.

“It will be wonderful to see how as creatives have pulled everyone’s work together, and with all the different rooms and corridors in the basement of the Hall I imagine it will have been transformed into a rabbit warren of creativity!”

Jo Stokes, from as creatives, said: “It has been a wonderful experience meeting the diverse range of grassroots projects and seeing first hand how they have worked to promote the five ways to wellbeing.

“In an incredibly wide-ranging collection the exhibition brings all this together and showcases amongst other things film, photography, visual arts and music.

“I hope that audiences will really engage with it and come away more aware, not only of the amazing work that is happening at grassroots level right across Liverpool, but also of their own wellbeing. My aim is that it will be as thoroughly uplifting an experience for visitors as it has been for me.”

The Grassroots Programme awarded around £2,000 to £5,000 to 26 groups across the city that developed imaginative projects which use art and culture to engage local communities on the topic of mental health and wellbeing.

A total of around £115,000 was awarded by the city council’s Art and Cultural Investment Programme (ACIP) in partnership with the former Liverpool Primary Care Trust.

Gideon Ben-Tovim, Chair of Liverpool PCT said: “Liverpool PCT was proud to support this programme again in 2012/13. Investing in Liverpool communities to use their creativity and talents and find innovative ways of improving wellbeing has proven hugely effective and inspiring.”

Dave Antrobus, Lay Member of NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (the organisation, which has taken over responsibility from Liverpool PCT for planning and buying health care services in the city) said: “Wellbeing springs from community activity and this programme has shown how culture can play a part in bringing people together.

“I hope people will come and see this exciting exhibition and witness the passion and creativity that these groups demonstrate in a really enjoyable way.”

As part of the Thinking Back, Looking Forward theme, all the groups have explore the five themes of the Decade of Health and Wellbeing which are:

• Connect… with people around you
• Be active… walking, tai chi – whatever you enjoy
• Take notice… of what’s around you, look up at the sky
• Keep learning… knowing new things is natural for us
• Give… do someone a favour

The groups which received funding and are exhibiting work are:

Liverpool ADHD Foundation, Bridewell Studios, Chaturangan, Come Alive at 55, Copperwood Media, Crass Routes, Deysbrook Village Centre, Dingle Community Theatre, Dot Art, Fazakerley Special Needs Project, Friends of Everton Park, Kaalmo Youth Development, Liverpool Arabic Centre, Merseyside Partners in Policy Making, Merseyside People First, Merseyside Polonia, One Latin Culture, Refugee Action, Soap Box Films, Sola Arts, Suitcase Ensemble, Taciturn Dance and Urban Revolt.