Mental health patients join UCLan students for ‘Being Human’ art exhibition

Posted on - 19th November, 2021 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Education, Health, Preston News, UCLan, What's On in Preston
Service User’s Idol

Mental health inpatients and UCLan students have teamed up for an art exhibition running next week.


Art session participants at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust’s Guild Lodge in Preston and Skylark Centre at Royal Preston Hospital have partnered to create art representing the concept of ‘Being Human’.

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The project, led by UCLan lecturers, Guild Lodge occupational therapist Mark Love, and Skylark consultant rehabilitation psychiatrist Dr Emily Kaye, saw inpatients and students take to the drawing board to create art based on personal experience.

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Barbed Wire Deer

The exhibition will run from November 23 to November 26 between 6-8pm at UCLan’s PR1 Gallery.


Quoting contemporary English artist Grayson Perry, Mark Love said: “A world without art is an inhuman world. Making and consuming art lifts our spirits and keeps us sane.

“Art, like science and religion, helps us make meaning from our lives, and to make meaning is to make us feel better. We put a lot of emphasis on patient-centred care, which is about being human and treating our service users and carers with the same respect as any human.

“We use the arts as a therapeutic tool to benefit individuals. The sessions help us assess peoples’ skills and strengths as well as their needs.”

Read more: UCLan to deliver new mental health programme for LGBTQ+ students

The exhibition event poster

Love said it helps people socialise, mix and improve their cognitive skills and offers a different role outside that of being a patient, providing service users with a sense of control, self-esteem, communication and confidence.

The pieces, created by students and service users, will feature alongside each other at an exhibition this November in a UCLan art gallery.

Love said: “One of our service users chose to focus on his idol, a football player. 

“He felt that art has been an important part of his life and made him feel human in times where he often felt alone with his anxieties and mental health. He recalls drawing when listening to football and how this is a significant memory and inspiration for him.”

Read more: Preston artist Lubaina Himid receives prize at Harper’s Bazaar Women of Year awards 

Another group produced a piece titled Barbed Wire Deer, carried out on one of the Acquired Brain Injury wards. The work depicts the importance of nature and being outside, especially for inpatients who deal with restrictions.

The deer represents nature and tranquillity, paying homage to the deer often seen on the grounds at Guild Lodge. The barbed wire represents Covid and being locked up.

Lowri Dowthwaite, senior lecturer in psychological interventions at UCLan, said: “From a lecturer’s perspective, it is a joy to receive and give feedback on such unique pieces of work.

“The process of creation enables lots of self-discovery and interesting conversations that would not be possible through a traditional essay or exam assessment. The very fact that we are collaborating with Guild Lodge and Skylark is part of that creative journey.”

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Also commenting on the project was Dr Gillian Rayner, reader and associate professor in counselling and psychotherapy at UCLan.

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Dr Rayner said: “We are really looking forward to our first joint art exhibition. We enjoyed connecting our UCLan student’s creative projects with their journeys into counselling and psychological therapies by working with experienced staff from our partner organisations.

“We hope this is the start of a wonderful collaborative, creative and innovative partnership.”

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Will you be attending the exhibition? Let us know in the comments below

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