Notes from the Sketchbook (2)

Thu 06th May 2021

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

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

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