Outside In collaborated with The Wellbeing Gallery in Brighton May 2015 for Artists Open Houses. The exhibition, entitled Being Creative is Good For You! featured thought provoking textile focused work by Outside In artists Aradne, Annika Malmqvist, Anthony Stevens and Valerie Potter.
The exhibition aims to highlight how these four artists have discovered their own personal fabric-based techniques to channel their creativity and improve their wellbeing.
Aradne has loved art from an early age. Equally drawn to primitive art as she is to paintings by Bosch or Basquiat, Aradne uses a technique that utilises the sewing machine as a drawing implement. Having taken part in Outside In’s 2014 collaboration with the Wellbeing Gallery, Aradne has also had work exhibited at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. She says: “In a book I was reading about medieval art there was a quote: ‘art is the grandchild of God.’ I’m not religious but the importance of art to me is as vital as that quote.”
Annika Malmqivst says of the impact of creativity on her mental health and wellbeing: “I can now step out of the stigma box because of the power of creativity, and cope now with the success I have finally had.” Annika found that writing – mainly poetry – was her only escape from years spent in hospital. Ten years ago she discovered ‘free embroidery’ and since then has been in love with this medium as a form of expression.
Anthony Stevens creates Punk Rock and Buddhist inspired textiles and drawings imbued with meaning; right from the fabric he chooses to the pattern he overlays it with. There are deep, symbolic meanings hidden beneath the surface that he encourages people to search for, like the recurring stripes alluding to the distinction between life and death. He says: “To create is one of the fundamental experiences of being human. It feels so much more invigorating to create from the nuts and bolts of our own lives, than to just stagnate and consume what is made available to us.”
Valerie Potter uses embroidery as her predominant medium because it is so portable and relaxing. Self-taught, Valerie has said that her embroideries have quite simply saved her, and given her life colour, hope and beauty. “Creativity is, quite simply, the engine that drives my life. Without my creative spirit I would be nothing. It is the yellow brick road that I gladly run down to find my inner wizard and I am never disappointed.”
The exhibition was accompanied by a series of related events, including an interactive, creative workshop led by artist and curator Jude Hart, as well as mini-workshops led by contributing artists Aradne and Anthony Stevens. In these mini-workshops, participants will have the chance to learn a new technique or simply enjoy being creative.