One of the most important aspects of the Student Makers Market is to introduce the young makers to local creative organisations and help them gain experience and build their career in the creative industries, this might be through brokering training opportunities or work experience or supporting them to access funding.
#ARTTALK was an incredible project by Student Makers Sam Giles and Erin Hayhow. The project was developed in response to a funding opportunity offered by local youth organisation ART31, Future Foundry supplied match funding and support.
Based on the personal experiences of the artists,#ARTTALK explored how involvement in creative activity could help young people self manage their mental health and wellbeing. The project was aimed at young people who might be dealing with issues such as terminal illness within their families, bereavement or experiencing depression.
Sam Giles explains his approach,
I see creativity as offering three ways of helping mental health:
A bubble – immersing yourself in creative activity – some designated time away from anxiety and worries.
To harness any sort of anxiety, stress, guilt, negative emotion and use it as a medium for creative production.
To enable self- reflection and insight from what’s produced (maybe at a later stage).
We wanted to teach some techniques that would release people from any sort of judgement of what they were producing – so used techniques such as automatic responses to certain materials or prompts, techniques such as collage and photocopying and there were speed activities, to avoid too much thinking.
We created a very specific atmosphere and experience for those taking part. We wanted it to be super chilled, relaxed, immersive but also friendly and supportive.
Arts organisation Beach Creative supplied the venue free of charge and a gallery space for the end of project exhibition and showcase that family and friends were invited to.
Feedback from the project was very positive,
‘I found a new non verbal way to explore my emotions and express distressing experiences that I have experienced. I find it difficult to address these things verbally. Moreover, creating art around these emotions and experiences has given works that I can use to start conversations about these issues if I wish to.’
The project was hugely successful and has led to requests for more projects such as this. Sam and Erin are looking to raise funding for further explorations.