The new quarterly format of this most excellent magazine, by the people for the people, has opened up the opportunity for greater pagination and so even more content! Exciting! It has been on my mind to introduce a wellbeing column for many reasons, and now seems like the perfect time.

The last two years have been challenging, for some this pandemic continues to be isolating and anxiety inducing and we are not out of the other side just yet. Whilst we may have been conscious of the effects of this difficult and extended period on our wellbeing for some time, it may be only now that we are realising the full impact on the mental health of people in our communities. And that’s on top of the mental ‘unwellness’ that already existed in society before Covid.

Whilst pondering this worrying situation last spring, I was contacted by a creative friend whom I had first met over a decade ago at my first ever craft fair. Lauren was the founder and organiser of Molly Queen’s Marvellous Markets and also had a stall selling her delightful decoupage, poetry and handmade cards. We instantly bonded over a love of all things recycled and handmade and remained creatively connected over the subsequent years.Her reason for getting in touch though, now a qualified social worker using art practices to manage her own wellbeing, was to pitch an idea she thought I might be interested in.

Thortify – The Art of Self Care, is a thoroughly researched and accessible concept that is centred around exploring the relationship between social theory and art, by way of starting a self care movement that supports and empowers the individual. A response to the clever marketing behind the commercial self care market, which can make hollow claims and even be exploitative, Thortify aims to promote empowered mental health maintenance and build creative confidence.

‘Fortifying the notion of self care with social theory for personal development,’ Lauren draws on her social work background and creative practices to inform her ideas surrounding art and creative therapy. The theory is sound but what was less clear was how to put this into practice – and this is where I came in. Having volunteered at Middle Street Community Centre for the past three years running craft therapy sessions, I had the hands-on experience that would help Lauren to realise her vision.

Several message strings, phone conversations and a team meeting later, Lauren felt that she possessed the joined up thinking that would drive forward a much considered Arts Council Bid that could fund her community wellbeing project. Our overlapping ethos and genuine commitment to investing in community spurred on the writing of paragraph after paragraph collating the depth and breadth of our combined experience and a desire to translate this into something we could share.

It was Lauren that undertook the mammoth writing task that is the Arts Council application process, but the valuable bid writing and project planning experience that Gloria (currently undertaking a PhD in Drama and Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council), brought with her to this project was the icing on the creative cake. The team is pleased to announce that after a nervous two month wait following submission, the application was successful!

The project started its journey at the end of January, and will be employing three established artists, all of which will be contributing work to compliment the creation of self-care resources that will be free to all participants, as well as garnering support from Nottingham Contemporary, NTU and Wellness in Mind.

Participants are invited to share their creative self care work to a virtual gallery. If you would like to submit your creative work to be featured in our online gallery, tag us on socials or send us an email.

Come and join us on our wellbeing journey!


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