That’s quite a claim to make.
Last week I was hanging artwork in Salisbury Medical centre. It’s a collaborative exhibition with other artists from Plain Arts Salisbury, we have Private View on Monday 28th July 6-8pm.
Back to the point, Art makes you better. We are hanging our work in various corridors around the medical centre. There was a thoroughly lovely atmosphere while we went about our business unpacking paintings and trying not to get in the way. I was very pleased with my little corridor once I'd finished hanging.
I doubt very much if I’ll sell. I don’t mind one bit if I don’t, because that’s really not the point. The point is still that Art makes you feel better.
I know this to be true.
Earlier in the year I was suffering from severe anxiety and panic attacks. It was most unlike me; usually I’m gregarious, one of life’s doers, one of those folks who can get on with it, generally happy and healthy.
Suddenly (though it must have been creeping up on me for sometime) I’d lost my sense of humour, wasn’t sleeping properly, or eating properly and felt pretty grim. Gradually there appeared to be no pleasure left in my life. Everything seemed to be one endless to do list with no respite or joy. I got worse and worse. Eventually my ever loving husband asked me to visit my Doctor.
Salisbury medical centre happens to be my medical centre. There was something so very powerful, hanging up paintings in the very place that less than six months ago, I was sat, blinking back tears, with my stomach in knots and my heart beating out of my chest. I didn't know if I'd ever feel normal again.
How could I have recovered so quickly.
Three things really.
1. A very good GP who reassured me, gave me a short term prescription to get me back on my feet, made follow up appointments, listened carefully, believed me. And she recommended Mindfulness.
2. I took her advice on the mindfulness. There are two books which really helped Ruby Wax’s "Sane new world" and Mark Williams’ "Mindfulness - finding peace in a frantic world". There’s lot being written about mindfulness at the moment, some people write it off as “bunkum”. They're wrong- it’s amazing.
Williams describes mindfulness as
"an integrative, mind-body based training that enables people to change the way they think and feel about their experiences, especially stressful experiences. Mindfulness pays attention to thoughts, feelings and body sensations to become directly aware of them, and better able to manage them, it has deep roots in ancient meditation practices and also draws on recent scientific advances. Mindfulness is of potential value to everybody to help find peace in a frantic world”.
If that sounds lovely and easy you’re only half right! It is lovely but it’s difficult at first. If you’re so anxious that your brain is buzzing the whole time, it's surprising difficult to try and slow it down, you have to practice and concentrate. But it really does work.
Evidence from Neuroscientific studies find:
3. Art. Art makes you feel better. For some of us the practice of creating artwork might be the most mindful thing we do, we can get pleasure from it and sometimes it feels as if we are fulfilling a need. A need to create. I can forget all other things when I'm at work on a canvas, I have to be present, my mind doesn't dwell on the past or worry about the future. I'm in the moment.
For others, art gives them pleasure when they look. A picture can remind you of a place or a feeling. Many people feel calm or joy looking at a sea view. When there isn’t a sea view in the Doctor’s surgery, why not have some paintings to look at instead!
There’s also something so lovely about local artists fulling up public spaces with artwork, and meanwhile the visitors are able to look at real art, made by real people who live up the road. They can discuss the work with other people, strike up a conversation. The people who work in the building too, can have something interesting to walk past each day.
I can't really find the words to explain how blessed I am to be able to feel well again so quickly, and the joy of putting artwork into a public place, where people come to feel better.
I hope visitors to the practice enjoy the artwork. There are plenty of different styles on offer, different strokes for different folks; hopefully there's something for everyone.
The work might spark a discussion, a query, a thought, a memory. All good.
Art, can raise a smile, provoke a debate, give you warm fuzzy glow…and can make you feel just a little bit better.
If you are in the Salisbury area, please feel free to come along to Private view on 28th July. Alternatively you can go to the see the exhibition during normal surgery hours 8am-8pm each weekday. Ask at reception on the way in.
Enjoy art; it makes you better.