'Support Life' Art Exhibition
In November 2019, RAW curated the ‘Support Life’ art exhibition at Light House Media Centre in Wolverhampton to raise awareness of the issue of Suicide Prevention.
The exhibition was supported by Outside Centre, an organisation in Wolverhampton concerned with disability access to the Arts. This organisation were the driving force behind the hugely successful ‘Wolves in Wolves’ public art trail in 2017. Alex Vann, founder of RAW, decorated the ‘Support Life’ wolf which is concerned with Suicide Prevention and mental well-being. The wolf gives it’s name to the exhibition.
We put a call out for submissions to the exhibition on social media and by word of mouth for example at our ongoing workshops and by attending events that were around mental well being.
We set up a dedicated Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SupportLifeExhibition/
so could share the stories of the artworks, artists and exhibition updates.
32 artists submitted work -which was a mixture of drawings, painting, prints, tattoo designs, sculpture, poetry, video and performance. Here is a small selection:
The exhibition also included a signposting section to agencies that are dedicated to suicide prevention
The exhibition was opened officially by the Mayor of Wolverhampton and a percentage of sales went to The Mayors Charities which is 2019-20 were
Exhibition dates 5 – 30 November 2019.
Dates of events & workshops:
8.11.19: Official Launch event by Mayor of Wolves, Clarie Darke. MCee’d by local actor / theatre leader Tonia Daley-Campbell / with performances by local poet: Brendan Hawthorne and musician Alex Vann plus testimonials by some of the exhibiting artists.
12.11.19: Honesty Portraits Workshop: designing and painting a 3D mask which reflects how you REALLY feel – not a surface ‘I’m ok’ (the concept for ‘Honesty Portraits’ originally came from some work I’d seen by Becky Lawley a young artist who struggles with mental health problems. She and her sister (12) both had work in the Support Life exhibition).
16.11.19: Design a ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ poster: Using the NHS initiative as a basis for drawing / writing / telling others what YOU will do to improve your mental well-ness: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/improve-mental-wellbeing/
23.11.19 : Design a Wolves in Wolves ‘Support Life’ wolf: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolves_in_Wolves
http://www.wolvesinwolves.co.uk/artists/about/wolf10.html (the original wolf design by Alex Vann)
27.11.19: Performance evening: Hosted by Alex Vann, included performances by Billy Spakemon / Brendan Hawthorne and The Dissenters. The Dissenters are a group of vulnerably housed people who attend a drop in centre at SIFA Fireside in Birmingham, https://www.sifafireside.co.uk/
Videos from the Performance Evening are available on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmuIArtxp_fjuz5x-Msuh_A/featured?view_as=subscriber
We know the exhibition had direct impact on individuals because of:
Exact numbers of people attending are difficult to quantify, however:
We have 70 tags on the tree – (obviously not everyone who visited would write one)
And 34 comments in the book.
40% of sales from artworks would go to the Mayor’s charities.
In addition, Ben Vann (nephew of Alex and owner of a tattoo shop) designed some Support Life tattoos and 50% proceeds from people having these were donated to the charity.
COMMENTS BOOK SELECTION:
SIGNPOSTING TO SUPPORT AGENCIES:
A typical summer with RAW: creating art from nature; sign song performance; an art gallery and University visit; painting picnic benches and meeting the Mayor of Wolverhampton!
We had an amazing (and busy) time over Summer with various activities aimed at enriching the arts experience of young people in the Midlands.
Working with HeadStart Wolverhampton, we delivered the Summer Arts Programme at Low Hill Hub. We are hoping to enter some of the young people into the Arts Award 'Explore' qualification and part of that is visiting and exploring an Arts Organisation and the lovely staff at Wolverhampton Art Gallery facilitated a fascinating behind the scenes visit. Whilst we were there we bumped in the Mayor of Wolverhampton (as you do!) Claire Darke who invited them to visit her parlour a different day. Which we did, see more about that below.
We also worked with our colleagues at BID Services Birmingham again, on a brilliant 'Messy Nature Art' workshop which started with the young people gathering natural materials from a local park and then creating paintings and 3D items. All the young people are Deaf or Hard of hearing and as RAW members Alex and Gary both sign, this is not an issue!
We think their artwork looks great:
Messy Nature Art
We ran the Messy Nature Art session again with the young people at Low Hill Hub and again we were impressed with the results
We also got them to paint the picnic benches outside which were looking a bit worse for wear!
Knife Crime Prevention
An important issue to us is the prevention of knife crime. We have developed a highly creative and interactive workshop around that which gets young people asking themselves questions about their own paths: where they see themselves years into the future, what qualifications they will need to get where they want to be, who their role models are so that they can make positive decisions about their own futures. We used the huge interactive graffiti screen at Low Hill Hub, created a pop up art gallery with anti knife pledges and integrated sign language into it too. Here are a few pics:
Day Trips to Wolverhampton Art Gallery, The Mayor and University of Wolverhampton
We wanted to take the young people out of Low Hill Hub on a cultural visit to the Art Gallery - as this would broaden their horizons and also go towards Arts Award evidence if they decided they'd like to do that qualification which is recognised on the government's framework. We had a fascinating behind the scenes tour from the senior curator, Carol. We learnt that there are about 18,000 items in the gallery collections, some of which have to be stored in stable humidity because they are so old, delicate and fragile.
The young people then got a tour of the galleries, made drawings of what they saw and asked LOADS of questions!
While we were at the gallery we bumped into Mayor of Wolverhampton, Claire Darke, who was happy to come and talk to the young people. she invited them to her parlour and as she and RAW founder Alex Vann are both University of Wolverhampton alumni we combined a visit with the university where the young people saw Alex's design 'Support Life' which was part of the Wolves in Wolves project. They made drawings of the sculpture and asked Alex questions about it. Again this can go towards their Arts Award qualification.
Here are a few pictures from the day:
A Song for Low Hill
We were pleased to be invited to the Bushbury EMB annual festival. We had a stall doing arts activities for young people who drop in and we also performed a brand new song 'A Song For Low Hill' for which our regular group had learnt sign language for.
Here is a YouTube clip of the performance:
...and a few photos from the day and of the artwork the young people created for the lyrics so everyone in the audience could join in singing.
Alex Vann is an all round creative. He formed RAW in 1997 out of a University project and restarted it in 2018 after working as a graphic designer for agencies and in-house for many years.