I was invited to help design a small annual conference for arts and health practitioners with the brief to enable attendees to “Explore who you are and what you do, and how you fit into your local (and national) context. Meet others who have an arts, health and wellbeing remit and discover your similarities and differences, learning from each other on the way. Delve into the challenges, needs and benefits for Arts and Health work in Derbyshire in 2015 and determine how we can move forward.”
I met with the arts officer who was organising the conference, and we discussed what she wanted to fit into the time, and how I could create art that facilitated networking, discussion, and practical recording of what was and was not being done to extend arts and health collaboration in Derbyshire. I created all the ‘props’ out of recycled materials (mostly paper and cardboard), including a large tree with labelled branches where people could stick leaves to show which area their organisation was working in. This not only encouraged people to think about how and where their work was of benefit, and meet people working in the same areas, but also to see, once all the leaves were on, where the gaps were, and which areas were in need of more support (as it turned out, hardly anyone described their work as beneficial to physical health, for example).
I also ran a fabric flower making workshop, which provided a creative focus for discussions (the flowers were hung up for display, and then people could take theirs home at the end), and created signposts for the Five Ways To Wellbeing which could be reused by Arts Derbyshire for future events.
One person commented that the “artwork was beautiful and uplifting”, and the organiser said it “really made the whole afternoon special”. So that was nice