Art For All Thanks To ‘ACE’ Project

The Good Shepherd have embarked on one of their most creative projects yet with a series of art-related workshops followed by an exhibition during Recovery Month in September – thanks to funding from Arts Council England.

A grant of £27,000 has enabled the Good Shepherd to enlist the help of experts from their respective fields to deliver six separate five-week workshops to service users not just from the Good Shepherd but also SUIT (Service User Involvement Team) and Recovery Near You.

It’s already proving to be a hugely successful collaboration from which work from all of the different strands of the project will be exhibited in September at the Newhampton Arts Centre (NAC) and the Mander Centre.

“We are thrilled and so grateful to have been successful with our Arts Council application, which is another example of teamwork as it followed a funding workshop we attended put on by Creative Black Country,” says the Good Shepherd’s Community & Engagement Worker Kate Penman.

“This grant has meant that, for the first time, we have really been able to expand our vision for the arts exhibition which is really exciting.

“We will be able to work with a variety of artists across a series of different workshops, offering opportunities to people who have stories to tell and hidden talents to share.

“Art plays such an amazing role in people’s recovery journeys, but very often it just stays on the sketch pad, gets taken home or is discarded.

“This is about exhibiting people’s artwork loudly and proudly – telling our stories, sharing our visions and holding our heads up high in the process.

“We are eternally grateful to the Arts Council for giving us this opportunity and we are off and running and planning to knock it out of the park!”

The different five-week workshops have been put together as follows:

  • Illustration with Charlotte Webb.
  • Digital art and audio visual art with Darryl Georgiou.
  • Drawing and painting with Hannah Boyd.
  • Ceramics/Clay workshops with Helen Brown.
  • Eco-artist workshops with Jane Plowright.
  • Spoken word with Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists and Bones.

The first session of workshops with Charlotte, a University of Wolverhampton Masters student who is on her own recovery journey, has now been completed, with the second cohort with Darryl now well underway.

It is already proving a great success, especially the collaborative element between different charities and agencies, and the likes of the University of Wolverhampton adding their support as they have in previous exhibitions including when the Good Shepherd were one of the partners for the British Art Show in the city in 2022.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better start than with Charlotte’s sessions as the atmosphere at all of them was absolutely brilliant – everyone was buzzing!” adds Kate.

“We are not an arts organisation, we are a charity supporting people experiencing homelessness and vulnerability, but we managed to secure Arts Council funding which has made this dream come alive for us and is positively impacting so many people in the city.

“It has been incredible to link up with SUIT, helped by their amazing volunteer Christiane, and there has been an amazing sense of community from the overall partnership.

“A lot of the participants from the project have been able to share their experiences both in the sessions and via their artwork, and we will have some brilliant pieces to provide a fitting conclusion to the project at the exhibition in September.”

Being able to hire facilities at the NAC has been hugely important to the project, as well as utilising the services of a creative consultant in Dr Paul Darke.

The eventual exhibition will not only feature art from the project but also other artists with experience of addiction and mental health challenges and also alumni from the University of Wolverhampton.

There will also be a film and magazine produced and a launch event to showcase the exhibition, which follows previous similar projects put on by the Good Shepherd at venues such as the Light House Media Centre and its own premises on Waterloo Road.

  • Click here to access a podcast where Kate and Charlotte are joined by Sally, one of the participants on the project.

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