Hope is the focus of a new exhibition by artists from the CoolTan arts and mental health charity.
Stayin’ Alive, which opens today, includes works in different media including oil on canvas, acrylic, printmaking and sculpture. The stigma-breaking south London-based organisation is run by and for people with mental health issues and encourages the idea that mental wellbeing is inspired by creativity. The recent World Mental Health Day was the impetus for the artworks.
Aaron Pilgrim has four pictures in the exhibition and has been involved in CoolTan for five years. His Warhol-like Music (Martika) (above) is about the impact of music on mental health (“and I love listening to the 80’s pop star Martika”). Aaron’s last picture, Drawing futureristic cars (Michael), reflects how he helped to frame the exhibition and taught two volunteers how to mount, cut and frame pictures in the exhibition.
He says of The Globe Theatre & The Tate Modern “the arts help keep me well, especially painting, and these two places represent the arts. This picture is in the style of Turner.
Another of Aaron’s picture, My beautiful daughter Grace is about “being a good dad & my family help keep me well”.
Liz Innes, who has been attending art classes at CoolTan for around seven years, shows piece depicting a Lake District landscape. Liz adds: “I wanted to submit my landscape painting which was inspired by a photograph I took 20 years ago. I enjoyed painting this as it reminds me of my younger, more lively days when I often went walking with friends. I have really enjoyed my work in pen and ink recently and feel it is developing well. I have received a lot of encouragement from the staff and tutors at CoolTan.”
Marjorie Mclean, who has been involved with CoolTan for eight years, is showing her watercolour My Allotment. “For me going to the allotment, being in the sunshine and seeing things grow, producing food, makes me feel hopeful and happy”, she says.
Ese Imonioro’s work in collage and felt-tip was done about a difficult time in her life” “At that moment I felt quite persecuted, but I could not convince anyone of what was happening. The painting is of a doctor who helped me during this period and made everyone see the truth. I will always be eternally grateful to him for that and for giving me my freedom.”
* The CoolTan exhibition runs until 26th November, Monday to Thursday 10-5:45, Fridays 10-5 at CoolTan Arts, third Floor, 224-236 Walworth Road, SE17 1JE