What's it like at Start? User stories: exploring wellbeing themes through art
"I've found out about my strengths at Start"
In this story, we meet Kyle and hear about his experiences in embracing the wellbeing themes that underlie the art projects at Start.
In each activity in our arts programme, there are clear wellbeing themes that allow people attending Start to explore their strengths and aspirations. This way of working, where learning about art is experienced in tandem with learning about oneself, is often very new to those using the service.
In the Start mixed media department, the beginner's course comprises two projects. The first introduces people to mosaic techniques, and the second combines arts and wellbeing.
"What makes me happy is being satisfied with something for myself. It's important to be in touch with how you feel"
On coming into the Start mixed media department, Kyle liked the opening project and quickly began to become adept at using the materials and tools. Having read around colour theory, he felt confident with putting colours together in his work, and found that he came up with good ideas for designs.
When it came to the second project in the studio rotation (placement of 12 weeks) he found himself more puzzled.
In this 'Colour and Mood' exercise, students (people using the service) are asked to reflect on what makes them relaxed and cheerful, and how they feel when doing these activities. They go on to create mixed media artworks that incorporate symbolic renditions of these feelings.
"I felt doubtful about this exercise at first as I didn't understand it, but then as I did the exercise I really began to get it. I could see that it started me thinking more creatively. It helped me think about what actually makes me happy. I realised that what makes me happy is being satisfied with something for myself, not because I'm comparing myself to someone else. I can decide for myself what makes me happy. That's made me see it's important to be in touch with how you feel."
"I'm feeling more confident about making judgements and choices...I notice I've rarely felt unable to cope in my life since coming to Start"
Further on into his mixed media work, Kyle experienced the excitement and pleasure of discovering unknown skills and talents, as well as the knowledge that he was increasingly confident in his own decisions and opinions.
"I found that I was concentrating and not getting distracted, and that I was feeling more confident about making judgements and choices.
"The mixed media tutor encourages you to make lots of decisions throughout the placement. I found that having to make many small decisions all the time about colour and design added up and I notice now that big decisions seem less daunting.
"I notice that I've rarely felt overwhelmed or unable to cope in my life since coming to Start. The process of being in the art studios and making things, finding out about my strengths, gaining confidence, has helped me feel I can cope. It's also helping me to relate more comfortably to other people, perhaps because I'm generally thinking more about feelings and how each of us is a unique, different person.
"I've learned to take a new perspective on things..."
"I feel I've done good work in this placement, and I feel positive and happy with what I've achieved. I think I've learned to take a new perspective on things, and I've fulfilled my potential in this rotation. I understand the wellbeing connections that art's helping me make - that's partly thanks to the way we have to reflect on sessions through our Diaries. I think I've enjoyed this placement more than anything else to date, because of the personal angle.
"I tried very hard on this placement, and I feel I've been well-rewarded for my efforts."