Ipswich artist highlighting wellbeing and social justice through workshops
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
An Ipswich artist is highlighting issues of social justice and the importance of wellbeing through a series of creative change workshops.
Funded by Arts Council England, local artist Hannah Aria's workshops have helped create a supportive online community for people to use their creativity as a force for change.
The series of 16 weekly online workshops, in partnership with Prettys Solicitors and Suffolk Archives, explore creative horizons while providing wellbeing support – and highlight issues including mental health, homelessness, domestic abuse and the environment.
Ms Aria uploads a pre-recorded how-to video to her YouTube channel every Friday demonstrating a new creative technique, while also providing information about that week's social justice theme.
One week later, an interactive "show and tell" session is live-steamed where artists' works are featured and they are given the chance to speak about their creations.
Ms Aria said: “The Creative Change Workshops have already brought together lots of people who may otherwise never have met.
"Many of us have struggled with our mental health because of the pandemic and we have already learned lots from one another, particularly about how to create a safe and welcoming community online.
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"By exploring our ideas about creativity and social justice together, it has helps us all to find new ways to learn, connect and be creative."
As well as signposting to mental health support services, Ms Aria is also aiming to raise £2,000 to help fund for British Sign Language to be included in her videos alongside live screen captions.
Ms Aria said she wanted to raise the money because some of the workshops attendees are hard of hearing, alongside members of her team.
One attendee, a 19-year-old from Ipswich, said: “Making art is a healthy distraction rather than sitting wallowing and feeling miserable all the time.
"It’s nice to have a task to do each week and to be able to throw myself into it.
"For me, being part of Creative Change Workshops wasn’t so much about being able to show my art in public, although plenty of people do.
"For me just being encouraged to do it for myself was therapeutic and helpful.”
Those who would like to donate towards the £2,000 target can do so here.