The former New Look store in Dundee’s Wellgate Shopping Centre is being given a new lease of life as an art gallery.
Taken over by local organisation GENERATORProjects as an exhibition space, it’s now the chance of Dundee arts and mental health project Art Angel to put on a show.
From its origins over 25 year ago as part of Dundee Rep Theatre’s community company, Art Angel has been supporting local people with mental health problems in their attempts to get better and stay well through participation in the arts.
Art Angel manager Rosie Summerton says it’s been an incredibly difficult year for participants and they are delighted to have the opportunity to exhibit their work again.
Rosie explains: “There’s photography, creative writing, drawing, painting and quite a lot of sculpture. It’s been amazing to see people connecting and re-emerging from that dark place of lockdown.
“People are buzzing. They are really excited about being able to share their work – obviously they’re a wee bit scared as well as it’s a big thing to put your work out there.
“I think that just shows how amazing, resilient and creative the people who come to Art Angel are. I am really proud of the exhibition and I think everyone who is taking part will be too.”
Rosie continues: “A lot of people weren’t very well when they came back, so there was a lot of work to do to support them. From all those months of lockdown, a lot of people’s mental health had slipped and really gone back.
“I only felt things changed dramatically just a couple of months ago. The atmosphere changed and it was like everybody felt safe and … able to get stuck into their artwork.”
Rosie says the works in the show, entitled ‘There Is One Thing …’ were created during the first lockdown via online workshops and also after meetings were able to resume in August 2020.
GENERATORProjects invited Art Angel to exhibit in the new space after the show had to be postponed. In addition, the size of the venue means almost 100 pieces are on display.
Rosie explains: “We have been able to put a lot more in and utilise the space. I think it’s great they want to work with all sorts of community groups and not just professional artists.”
Local artists work with Art Angel using their skills to help people. Rosie says: “It’s the process of making art that is good for your health and wellbeing”.
She explains: “Through getting involved in things, your mental health can really improve – your confidence and self-esteem.
“People will come in for all different reasons. People are totally into the art and that’s their passions – other people are doing art and using that as a tool to communicate with people in the room.”
Participants are usually referred through local mental health services and projects but people can also self-refer by calling or emailing. Due to Covid-19, numbers continue to be limited but Rosie is hopeful this may change after the summer.
She adds: “It just shows you how important all these community groups are for people. It’s part of their life and their recovery and without that it’s very difficult. The way I look at it is funding projects like ourselves costs a lot less than funding the NHS … this is essential work.”
- There Is One Thing … runs until June 30 on Level 1 of the Wellgate. Entry is free and it is open 10.30am-4.30pm daily except Sundays.
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