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Fair near Norwich later this month aims to show that creativity is good for wellbeing

PUBLISHED: 10:58 13 June 2017 | UPDATED: 10:58 13 June 2017

Artist Carolyn Ash is taking part in the creativity and wellbeing fair. 
Picture: Ian Burt

Artist Carolyn Ash is taking part in the creativity and wellbeing fair. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

She’s revered as the founder of modern nursing but it seems Florence Nightingale was way ahead of her time in other ways too.

As well as recognising that cleanliness was important in helping patients wounded in the Crimean War return to health, the Lady with the Lamp also noticed that artistic beauty aided recovery too.

“Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, by colour, and light, we do know this: that they have an actual physical effect,” she said in 1860. “Variety of form and brilliancy of colour in the objects presented to patients, are actual means of recovery.”

More than 150 years later, it’s an idea that’s gaining traction. And not just for those experiencing physical or mental ill health. There’s a school of thought that says engaging with the arts and creativity in all its forms can aid the health and wellbeing of everyone.

It’s the idea behind a Creativity and Wellbeing Fair being held at Mangreen, just outside Norwich later this month.

Holistic therapist Sue Bayliss, who is also events and programme co-ordinator for the Mangreen Trust, a charity dedicated to promoting wellbeing, the arts and spiritual development, said: “I’m keen to get people to think about how they can be creative themselves and be inspired by the artists and craftspeople at the event. Wellbeing practices can enhance creativity and we’ve got things going on for all ages, from children upwards. Creativity helps people feel better, whether they are creating something themselves or engaging with others’ creativity. It improves wellbeing. The aim is to encourage people to be inspired by the arts, to revive something they used to do or sign up for class, which has social benefits too. To do something practical and see the positive results is life enhancing. It brings out people’s personalities, allows you to become more anchored and adds to your sense of self. It’s not just for people with health problems but for everybody. Being in a creative state benefits us all.”

There’s a growing body of research that backs up that idea too.

In 2007, the Department of Health’s Review of Arts and Health Working Group found arts should be recognised as being integral to health, while in 2011 the British Medical Association published a paper which found that arts programmes could even reduce the need for medication and shorten hospital stays.

There’s even a national body - the National Alliance for Arts, Health & Wellbeing, launched in 2012 - to promote the role creativity can play in health and wellbeing.

The real benefits the arts can bring to wellbeing are seen every day at Suffolk Artlink (www.suffolkartlink.org.uk), which has been developing and delivering arts programmes since the 1980s.

Co-director Alex Casey said: “The arts are an essential part of being human, bringing pleasure, belonging, self-expression and essential skills to our communities. Through our varied programme of arts activities in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex, we see just how important the arts are to improving wellbeing in our communities.

“Our Forget-me-not visitors visit Ipswich Hospital’s older patients living with dementia. They use arts and creativity to provide comfort, inspiration and company to help patients relax in an unfamiliar hospital setting, which can ease fear and confusion, reduce isolation and lift the spirits of patients and staff alike.

“With our Creative Company project, we offer family carers a chance to take part in arts workshops, either on their own, or with the person they care for. We see each week how having a chance to enjoy a bit of time for themselves or finding a new creative way of being with each other can make such a difference.

“And this month we are delighted to be launching a new project, Our Place, a series of artist residencies in six nursing and residential care homes in Suffolk. Working with The Partnership in Care, our artists will put staff, residents and their families at the heart of designing and delivering a more creative and cultural environment to improve health and well-being for everyone.”

All the fun of the fair

■ The Creativity and Wellbeing Fair takes place at Mangreen, Swardeston, Norwich, NR14 8DD on June 25 from 10.30am to 5pm.

■ Local artists and therapists will be demonstrating and displaying their work or providing free ‘taster’ treatments, including chair massage and reiki.

■ Children’s activities include music, craftwork and storytelling.

■ Hannah Hardy, whose artwork is exhibited at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, will give a talk on living creatively. She is founder of the Free Spirit Network and an internationally recognised artist and healer.

■ Life-coach, healer, retreat leader and personal development trainer Monica Porter will be offering ‘soul consultations’, together with other therapies.

■ Gary Rayner, who specialises in landscape photography, will be leading photography walks around the grounds.

■ Laurie Paradot will be demonstrating the benefits of Qi Gong, a gentle exercise composed of movements that are repeated a number of times, building awareness of how the body moves through space.

■ Eating-psychology coach and reiki practitioner Amy Woods will be giving a talk on awakening body wisdom and creating an uplifting relationship with food and with your body.

■ Activities in the Sanctuary also include an introduction to circle dance, a drumming workshop and a talk on alternative approaches to birthing. Other ‘taster’ classes include, pottery and mosaic making, traditional wool weaving, Yamuna Facial Therapy, and Tai Chi.

Places for workshops and talks should be booked on arrival.

■ From July, Mangreen will be offering an extensive programme of workshops and courses, talks and recitals, including a mosaic making-workshop with Carolyn Ash, a concert of love songs and poetry, a creative writing course; craft fair and storytelling evening and ‘de-stress’ workshop.

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