An artists’ community in one of the most beautiful places in Essex is hoping to start a conversation about mental health this summer. The Hylands Artist Studios is a growing collective of artists working in the historic stables building on the Hylands Estate. As part of the Essex Summer of Art, Hylands artists have created a two month-long exhibition called ‘I feel’, linking wellbeing and creativity by exploring the themes of feelings, art and mental health. Works commissioned for the event will be on display in The Stables Café and artists will be creating some of their pieces in situ, so that visitors can drop by for a chat and even join in.
Hand knitting designer Georgia Farrell will be making a knitted journal alongside the café’s customers. She says art has a unique role to play as a stress reliever: “It’s so good for you to just take a break and focus on something outside of your everyday life. Artists do this all the time, but other people rarely experience this. Switching off and giving yourself time to make something can be great for your mental health. Activities can often be seen as something for children but there are immediate and tangible results for adults too.”
Members of the public will have a chance to create their own mini ‘I feel’ masterpiece with an exhibition of postcards in the estate’s bookshop that anyone can make in response to the themes of the project. The finished postcards will be available to buy in return for a donation to Rethink Chelmsford, a local mental health charity. The artists are also planning to host free mindfulness activities to show how creativity can help to find a sense of balance in life. ‘Art Square Sundays’ will be taking place at The Stables on 7 July and 4 August, and those attending will be able to try a range of activities from origami and yarn wrapping, to making a stained-glass flower.
Hylands Manager Eddie Farrell says the programme is another way that Hylands can benefit the local community: “The Estate with its neo-classical villa, stable block and famous parkland is a place for people to unwind and crucial to the wider wellbeing of our city. We’re delighted that the artists here are exploring even more ways to bring happiness to our many visitors, and highlighting the importance of making time to look after both your mental and physical health.”
The Hylands artists are hoping that this Summer of Art is just the start of a meaningful relationship with the residents of Chelmsford. More events are planned for next year and new artists and makers including a wildlife photographer, ceramicist and calligrapher are set to join the group.
Councillor Jude Deakin, Cabinet Member for Safer Chelmsford, with responsibility for leisure and heritage services says it’s an exciting time for The Stables: “We’ve had a talented group of artists here for many years and we’re hoping that with even more creative professionals making Hylands their home, this collective will go from strength to strength. We’re also looking at ways to support young and emerging artists – so watch this space.”
The Summer of Art runs between 1 July and 31 August at the Hylands Estate. Information about the ‘I feel’ exhibition and all of the free mindfulness activities planned for the summer can be found at http://hylandsestate.co.uk/events/ and on the Hylands Estate Facebook page.
Friday 5 July 2019