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Notes from the Sketchbook

Hear from some of our Makers and Artists on our mentoring programme and how they have explored creativity, wellbeing and connection during lockdown. The group began working together online in Autumn 2020 and have shared insights into their challenges and journey so far, in response to the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival and this year’s theme of “Normality."


Gemma Coldwell

"Lockdown has been a good excuse to give myself the space to pause and reflect on life but also to play and pick up new skills. I have not only learned new technical skills in puppet making and landscape painting but also how mentally freeing and supportive it can be when I give myself the time to make artwork. Making new art has given me a sense of stability in a year that has been full of chaos and I didn’t quite realise until now how fundamental it has been on my mental health. I plan to keep making and painting for myself and for others as I aim to help out more within my local community."










Jen O'Rourke

“Lockdown has helped me to give myself permission to slow down, reflect and get to know myself better. Appreciating the everyday has been how I have processed the last year by making light humour out of the new everyday. Creative block has also been a big challenge but through my community arts work I have found the motivation and purpose to keep making.”











Leila Forissier

"This time has been very much about seeing daily surroundings with new eyes and finding wilderness and space within a limited area - which seemed to happen naturally. On a walk one day I climbed through a hole in the fence of an abandoned building site near the Clyde, and stepped into a different place altogether, somewhere new to explore. Over time I observed the growth of many wild flowers and other plants reclaiming the land and covering industrial-looking parts, creeping in wall cracks and broken ground.

I accidentally renamed the whole area to suit my imagination and stories of my neighbours/friends. Beyond a bare expanse (Des Valley, always inspiring to whistle some Enio Morricone) and marshy ground (The Badlands), Glasgapagos is hidden behind trees and brush, suddenly opening on the water: there, happily cutting about, are cormorans, swans, ducks, gulls, crows, magpies, sparrows, finches, robins and other birds, foxes, and even a seal when the tide is high.

A good soulspot and excellent sunspot too.

An unexpected antidote to feelings of anxiety and stuckness that arose at times. I experienced a few panic attacks this year, and I always headed down there to find some soothing, some grounding.

Walking in such a wide space on uneven ground and sometimes creeping through trees, feeling the wind and the sun or rain, was the perfect physical balance to online connection. It helped me reconnect with my body after a couple of months of not moving much due to grieving a loss in the family; it also helped me reconnect with child-like joy and adventure, and with my budding love for herbalism.

The place has become precious to me.

I foraged some of the vegetation for homemade tinctures and herbal teas (premium organic Badlands quality), and the visual aspect and wild feeling of the place found its way into my metalwork, with accidented terrain and meandering shapes being very present in a recent collection of rings. I also handpicked a few dried pieces of plants from the winter to cast into bronze."

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