Members of the Broadstairs Town Shed have displayed their wood turning work at Turner Contemporary today (July 18) as part of the Hope Exhibition.
The exhibition included work Bowls of Hope – turning your life around from the Shed, Medway’s Mona Whitton with Into the fire, Hannah Whittaker with Draw Hope and Kent Association for the Blind with Seeing beyond sight loss.
The works, and the individuals and groups behind them, have been co-produced with people who have experience of poor mental health and are aimed at promoting a message of hope and suicide prevention.
The display is a mix of installations, paintings, ceramics, creative writing, and textiles.
Kerry Millett, from Broadstairs Town Shed, said: “We use woodwork and carpentry as a means to address loneliness and isolation for older people.
“(The exhibits) have been three to four months in the making. People picked their wood and then learnt a skill in the process. They then pass that skill on to others.
“Everything was made at the Shed, even the laser etching and engraving.”
Helen Robertson, from Broadstairs Town Shed, said participation in the exhibition came after the group was successful in a bid to the Hope Art Foundation. The funds were then used to buy quality wood for the Shed members to ‘turn.’
Among the equipment used was a lathe donated by a lady in memory of her husband Tom. One of the exhibits, Ton’s Bowl, also features a crown (coin) embedded in the bowl.
Brian Valentine, 59, has been a member of the Shed for three-and-a-half-years.
The retired engineer said: “I enjoy it, I can go in my own world but enjoy the company too. It’s nice to do something different (from engineering).”
Helen said the Shed has around 150 members with 80 if those as active participants – and a growing number are women.
She said: “Traditionally about 5% have been females but over the last year that has gone up to 14%. We have also started Creative Fridays with craft, art, gilding, which lends itself to different things for different people.”
Among the guests at today’s opening was Kent County Council Councillor Lesley Game, who represents Cliftonville and is a member of the health committee.
She said: “I love the concept. If you are feeling really low something like this, that is creative, must help and also gives companionship, like at the Town Shed where they all talk to each other and then do not feel lonely as loneliness can be one of the causes of suicide.”
The Hope exhibition also features the Baton of Hope which will tour UK towns and cities this summer, raising awareness of suicide prevention in a bid reduce stigma.
The baton stems from a campaign by Mike McCarthy and Steve Phillip who both lost their sons to suicide.
The dads came up with the idea of the Baton of Hope. Which is being carried around the country by families and friends bereaved by suicide,
The exhibition is open to all between 4pm-6pm at Turner Contemporary today (July 18) and then tours Kent and Medway from 21st July. You can see the art works for free at Fremlin Walk, Maidstone (24th-28th July); Chatham Library and Community Hub (31st July-4th August) and Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells (7th-11th August).
The Shed is based at Unit 3 Oakwood Industrial Estate, Dane Valley Road, Broadstairs.
The Mental health and wellbeing support available in Kent and Medway includes:
RELEASE THE PRESSURE – free expert advice from trained counsellors is available for every mental health concern, including anxiety, money and debt worries, at any time through Release the Pressure. Just text the word “Kent” or “Medway” to 85258 or phone 0800 107 0160 for free confidential help.
LIVE WELL KENT AND MEDWAY – run by charities Shaw Trust and Porchlight this local support network provides free mental health guidance for younger people and adults, including with money and debt.
EVERY MIND MATTERS – if you’re suffering with stress, anxiety, low mood and sleep issues, the Better Health Every Mind Matters website has lots of information to help you stay on top of your mental wellbeing, including a simple five question quiz to get a personalised mental health action plan with tips and advice.
In an emergency, if someone’s life is at risk, always call 999. For more about urgent mental health help, visit: https://www.kentandmedway.icb.nhs.uk/mental-wellbeing-information-hub/need-help-now