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Tuesday, 31 January 2023
Art can have a profound effect on a person’s mental health and their recovery from mental illness. That’s why when patient and artist Fenn felt inspired to paint, Seacole Ward’s manager Fran Pearce encouraged her to use the ward’s corridor wall as a canvas.
Fenn, a freelance artist specialising in sculpture and mixed-media pieces, took up painting two years ago but her mental health stopped it. When Fenn came to Seacole ward the art activity room inspired her and gave her the confidence to pick up a paintbrush again.
Fenn’s first project was a canvas painting which now hangs in the entrance to Seacole Ward at Springfield Hospital. With the support of Fran and her therapist Jeremy, Fenn challenged herself to finish the canvas in six weeks before moving on to transform the wall of the ward’s main corridor.
Over the last four months, Fenn dedicated a couple of hours each evening to painting the wall as part of her therapy. The result is a series of fantastic paintings, each one with its own unique story and inspired her by recovery journey.
Asked to describe the paintings, Fenn said: “The first piece you see is of a bookcase. The spines of the books are blank, but hopefully they won’t be for long – I’d like to see others paint on the titles. At the bottom of the bookcase is a little grey mouse looking up at a piece of cheese. The mouse was already there, and I couldn’t paint over it, so I knew I had to find a way of incorporating it!
“Next to the bookcase is a brick wall which was inspired by my therapist who has been encouraging me to ‘push the wall’, which is an analogy for facing your fears and testing out if what you fear comes true.
“The London skyline and painting of Tooting Broadway high street is symbolic of my journey to Seacole ward and my recovery journey so far. Joy café (nicknamed Tony’s by the ward!) is the one we visit every Friday as part of our therapy. At the end of the corridor is a wisteria tree – that was Fran’s request!”
Talking about the role art has played in her recovery, Fenn said: “Art is a lot about trust and that’s what has been needed to do my therapy here, they come hand in hand. It’s about trusting what you see and painting without overcomplicating it. To be painting so publicly and have other people see the process and not just the finished piece was also a huge deal for me.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity that Fran and the team have given me. Getting back into painting has helped boost my confidence and supported my recovery, and I hope others enjoy the paintings too.”
Fran said: “In mental healthcare, the arts and creativity have a huge role to play in helping to cultivate a healing environment. Our art room is a relaxed space which supports patients to discover their creativity at a time when they may be feeling at their most vulnerable.
“Fenn has done an incredible job of transforming our ward’s corridor into a bright, vibrant space and she should feel very proud of what she’s achieved.”