by Alison McGann, Photography Worker, Valley and Vale Community Arts
‘My own prescription for health is less paperwork and more running barefoot through the grass’ (Terri Guillemets; Quotation Anthologist)
We all suffer from mental strain at some point in our lives whether through the day-to-day stresses of our jobs or something more profound like the loss of a loved one. What keeps us going is time to heal and the help/support we receive from family, friends and professionals if needed. Sometimes we just need a little light relief in the way of an activity we may be interested in. This was the case when we started up a photography project with the Mental Health Matters group in Maesteg.
We walked around town and photographed anything that took our liking – reflections in windows, baskets of flowers hanging from lamp posts, fruit outside shops, key rings inside shops, you name it – we took the pictures. We created a slideshow from the photographs; Jari suggested that the music for it should be from his favourite song by Petula Clark called Down Town and everyone agreed.
After this project everyone was keen to continue snapping and this time the focus for the workshop was the group members themselves. The group produced a set of portraits; each person chose the image they wanted to use of themselves and a question and answer that would give a little insight to their personalities. You can see the photos below as well as some black and white images that they produced around town in their ‘Down Town’ project.
I really enjoyed working with everyone on this project, with their thoughtful and caring ways, and it also brought back fond memories for me of Maesteg, the town and its people.
“The photography workshops at Maesteg Wellbeing Centre were very well attended and enjoyed by all participants. These were among the most popular activities arranged at the Centre and since they have ended a number of people have enquired about future workshops at Maesteg and other Wellbeing Centres. Photography is very popular for many who wouldn’t normally engage in art/craft activities and Alison’s approach to the subject and ability to engage with the client group made it a great success.” (John Crockett, Community Services Worker)