Barking is always busy. Fact. Barking is packed with charity shops and en route to Boundary Road, packed with tower blocks. We passed a car-park, pot-holes an’ all, which could have passed for a criminal patch on “Minder”. It’s only because I recognised “The Hope” pub next to an old house labelled as a mosque that we could know we were at Studio 3 Arts. What a desert. Up to now, I’m not too sure if our bus-stop were the end of the line. Felt like it.
Studio 3 Arts is spacious and airy, light and even has a back garden. Top notch venue.
Today we were at the ‘sold-out’ free printing and woodcut workshop: Number two of three creative workshops targeting those people who use or have used mental health services and then other people are made welcome. Our tutor has a passion for her art and shared it with us newbies. We started off with seven of us, the majority from Up Your Street and were joined by three latecomers. We wait for no man.
The Guardian culture pages carried a write-up about the aims of Mental Spaghetti which gave John Hegley an airing and that article bred aggressive questioning by commentators online. There is a great controversy about the success and failure of art therapy as a diagnostic tool for mental health facility users. And then there’s up for discussion the political crime about the Government slashing services for mental health well-being and then being complacent enough to watch artists and community hubs take over the role of professionals in the medical field. Watch how schools will soon be staffed by classroom assistants. Because artists see a gap in the system then they use their skills at community hubs and do their gooding, promote art as a religion and bring in the flocks. The Government who doesn’t give a toss about the vulnerable folds its arms, and hopes art will cure all.
We seniors enjoyed ourselves immensely and came away looking like end-of-term fashion students with our gaffer-taped improvised art folders.. We’d learnt, we’d cut , we’d printed, we’d laughed, eaten and clapped. Now I don’t know how that experience could help anyone with mental health ill-being. I never met anyone today who expressed where they were mentally so I cannot even be clever and guess their state of wellbeing afterwards. I was too tired by the precision-cutting, the calculating of negative and positive as we “cut out the light” ( scraping away the wood where we didn’t want black ink), the rolling, the pressing, the inking and the achievement to work it all out.