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Art created by Catching Lives clients goes on tour

Artist Alex Boican and Catching Lives Arts and Activities Co-ordinator Miriam Ellis at the Hope Community Arts Exhibition

Art created by Catching Lives clients is part of an exhibition that is going on tour around Kent. 

The Hope Community Arts Exhibition, which aims to raise awareness of suicide prevention and spread the message “There is always hope”, launched at the Turner Contemporary in Margate on Tuesday, 18 July. 

Clients took part in eight Nervous Drawing and Painting workshops run by artist Alex Boican at the Catching Lives day centre, funded by Kent County Council’s Hope Community Art Fund.  

The Nervous Drawing Club aims to boost people’s confidence around being creative as well as creating a sense of wellbeing and community. The aim is to make drawing and watercolour painting an enjoyable activity with various techniques to break the fear of the blank page. 

During the workshops, the message from Alex is: “There are no mistakes. Whatever you do is good.” 

He added: “The workshops are all about the interaction with other people. It takes me out of my studio and comfort zone. Everyone has a different way of responding and every time people come up with different things. 

“It is a creative exchange – I give something and get something back.” 

You can view a full interview with Alex, filmed at the Turner Gallery, via our Instagram page.

John, a Catching Lives client, has learnt new art skills through the nervous painting workshops which have helped him develop his art practice and has recently set up an Instagram account showcasing his work.

He said: “Nervous Drawing and Painting has helped me so much. It has helped me to have confidence. Before I thought I didn’t want to do it because I would be worried about making mistakes. It really helps me.  

“I am no longer worried about a blank page.  I just put something down and see what happens.” 

Another client, Lachlan, said: “Nervous drawing helps me stop being nervous. It keeps me away from alcoholism.  

“I have been coming here for a long time. It’s one of the groups at the centre that really matters. It’s a big success here. People get interested. I do art anyway. If it looks good, leave it. Most of my artwork is a fluke.” 

Another client, Patrick, added: “It is good fun doing it. The workshops distracted me. It gives me something to focus on rather than stress. 

“Nervous drawing keeps us sane.” 

Another client said: “The stuff you can come out with here is incredible. It helps me escape reality for a little while.” 

Amy, an occupational therapy student who was on a placement at Catching Lives during the workshops, said: “Everyone seems to really enjoy it. It gives them meaningful occupation. Something they can be involved in a bit with community and confidence. It’s a distraction from other issues.”

Tonye, a social work student who was also on placement at Catching Lives during the workshops, said: “It’s beneficial because different people gain something, and they are supported and surprised by what they can do. The client can be so happy with the result.” 

Eira, an occupational therapy student, said: “I love that there is no such thing as a mistake. I have seen clients grow in confidence. It’s really helped with their own ideas and art and art style. From an occupational therapy perspective, I can see how partaking in an occupation like this can improve wellbeing.” 

As well as creating artwork, clients who took part in The Nervous Drawing Club were able to gain a qualification under Badge Nation, which is recognised by City and Guilds and the RSA. 

Miriam Ellis, Arts and Activities Co-ordinator at Catching Lives, said: “It has been fantastic to see clients grow in confidence and produce some excellent artwork during Nervous Drawing Workshops. A few participants also gained our Creativity Level 1 qualification through Badge Nation. We hope it has helped them realise there is hope and that they can start to think about what they can achieve beyond having a secure place to live. We look forward to Alex delivering more workshops in the future.” 

The Hope Community Arts Exhibition is organised by the Kent and Medway Suicide Prevention Team with 11 local artists and community groups exhibiting works. 

Kent and Medway Hope Community Arts Fund grants totalling £21,000 were divided among the successful applicants to help bring the vision of hope to life. Across Kent, 7 projects received a combined £10,000, with 4 Medway initiatives securing a total £11,000. 

The exhibition can be visited at Fremlin Walk, Maidstone from Monday, 24 July to Friday 28 July. (Monday 24th: 10am – 2pm, Tuesday 25th: 1pm – 5pm, Wednesday 26th: 10am – 2pm, Thursday 27th: 1pm – 5pm, Friday 28th: 10am – 2pm. It will be at Chatham Library and Community Hub from 31 July to 4 August. Then it will be at the Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells from Monday 7 August, to Friday, 11 August. (Monday 7th: 12pm – 3pm, Tuesday 8th: 10am – 3pm, Wednesday 9th: 10am – 3pm, Thursday 10th: 10am – 3pm, Friday 11th: 10am – 3pm.)  

To donate to Catching Lives, visit our Just Giving page.

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