Virtual Art Gallery Makes a Real Difference!22-December-2020
While we know that our current times are presenting challenges on all sorts of fronts, we also know that learning can do much to remedy how we feel - improving our well-being and mental health – and helping us to steer our way through the world around us. Here our tutor Robert Meredith shares his art class experiences with us, where the creation of a Community Virtual Online Gallery has not only given a worldwide platform for his learners to showcase their work but has proved to be a positive and nurturing exercise in its own right.
Robert tells us, “My art class mixes well-being with ‘art creativity’. I sense the main motivation for learners is to meet up with classmates on a social level but also to engage in creativity and to give focus and challenge.
“As the groups tutor, I have seen how many in the art class have had to overcome many barriers. From physical disability (MS) to low self-confidence and self-esteem and fear. Many have come from difficult family backgrounds and personal trauma. Many deal within issues on a weekly basis but have been able to show a resilience and confidence as coming to an art class has given them tools to overcome their individual barriers.
“There is a definite bond within this group and they all keep in touch outside of class either by email or telephone. Last year the group lost a valued member of this group and his passing did affect a number in the class (myself included). The impact of art on his life and his family was incredible, that has also been echoed in each member of this group. There is a confidence and determination and commitment to whatever comes their way. The classes have helped with well-being and the mental health awareness where learners emotions are stimulated through visual art and its appreciation.
“Classes have also sustained the community centre’s relevance. My group kept coming to the centre even when the classes had to stop during lockdowns. Their coming together has given the centre a real purpose. The friendship and commitment is seen by many of the on-lookers at the centre. I have seen how many in the group have been able to use their creativity to help develop objects and craft to help support the NHS. This I think is down to their growth in confidence from being in a class at this time.
“I think all have been inspired to pick up a pen or pencil and just put to paper that which we like to represent. This one act has led to such fun, fulfilment and challenge and spotlighting the learners work online hopefully will spread the word and encourage others!”
The Community Virtual Online Gallery was Robert’s idea but one which he confesses became a collective effort: “The whole class loved the idea and with the nature of all things ‘moving online’ the gallery came to serve different purposes, where it not only enabled many more to view the work while in lockdown but spurred the learners on and to see their work in pixels!”
The Community Virtual Online Gallery is hosted online as a Google Slides document, displaying the talents of its artists as well as the diverse nature of the art subjects. The gallery contains a series of ‘rooms’ where each denotes a specific theme and topic, where the learners were tasked to push their skillsets.
Learner Mary Rees highlights, "The class exercises were stimulating with all of the benefits of company and concentration that art brings to one’s sense of well-being.”
Tutor Robert reflects, “When I come to this class to teach, so often it is I that’s been shown something or learnt something! Learners so readily become teachers in and of themselves; they support each other and inspire each other. To see their smiling faces each week be this in a classroom or through a screen just gives us all a real sense of purpose and achievement and joy. For many in this group art has become so important that it has become a lifeline against loneliness and isolation. Art is a remedy for our time!”
Our congratulations go to Robert and all of his learners. Keep up the great work and we look forward to seeing more and more in the real and online.
Visit the Community Virtual Online Gallery here and learn more about our learners and their work.