An interactive art project has helped to given Eastbourne residents with mental health needs a sense of place in the community.
Residents from Sanctuary Supported Living’s Hyde Gardens supported housing scheme have been finding out how town landmarks such as Towner Art Gallery, The Wish Tower and Congress Theatre can benefit them and have drawn on the experiences to produce their own artwork.
Sculptures, paintings, poems and sketches are all being produced by the residents, each of whom will be keeping their creations safe inside a one foot squared red box to chart their experiences.
Once the project has finished, their collected works will go on display at the Leaf Hall Community Centre.
The project doesn’t end with each resident’s box either – several residents are each individually working on ideas for a flag that will reflect their experiences and sense of place in the community.
Their entry is part of a competition hosted by Friends of the Wish Tower and, if successful, will be displayed from the top of the Wish Tower itself.
Both the Wish Tower flag competition and art sessions are part of a larger project funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme.
As a result of his involvement with the art project, one Hyde Gardens resident has been encouraged to draw on his IT skills to help design a new website for Eastbourne’s custom house, which is overseen by Friends of the Wish Tower.
It’s hoped by staff at the supported living scheme that the project might provide the self-esteem needed to help him seek employment once more.
Another resident, who has obsessive compulsive disorder and a learning disability, has been able to overcome his social discomfort in the community by taking part in an activity to record the sounds of the art project visits.
Michelle Winch, project worker, said it had made a big difference to the participants.
She said, “This project was set up as a way to help our residents, who often feel disenfranchised, realise that the places like our town’s art gallery aren’t just for other people.
“It’s really changed their way of thinking about their place in society for the better.”
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