The group considers recovery to be a cathartic process: an ongoing personal journey which can mean different things to different people. West Midlands Museum Development with Art Fund supports the Learning and Engagement team at the Barber to successfully deliver the programme. Through connecting participants to artwork within their world class collection whether that be through creative workshops or exploring new skills to unleash their own creativity.
The aim is to positively improve health and wellbeing through engagement with the team, via the peaceful and tranquil galleries and creative activities, while supporting individual arts practice. The overall aspiration for the Barber continues to be to position the gallery as a meeting point between community and health care partners and its unique setting on the university campus. The Barber staff continue to utilise their world-class collection to enhance health and wellbeing services and draw on their unique capacity as a public museum within a Russell Group University that also provides medical training.
Most of all I enjoyed the social side of the day, the (for me) rare opportunity to mix with friends in a relaxed atmosphere. This is a real highlight in my life and does a lot to improve my mental health.Recovery Art group member
I felt vulnerable and nervous about being around others when I arrived. I definitely feel a bit more confident now.Recovery Art group member
WMMD’s Recovery grant in 2021 allowed the Barber to prioritise the continuation of the Recovery Art programme, which secured the dialogue between people and gallery, heading towards slowly interacting more on-site and in person. This resulted in a ‘year of Encounters’, building confidence in the members and collaborators connecting with the Barber physically again.
The new programme in 2022-23 is the first time since pre-pandemic that the Barber staff have been able to plan in a wholly in-person capacity. The grant has allowed them to start another year of activity, with the ambition of opening Recovery Art up to new members for the first time since 2019, supporting members through the local community.
This group always lifts me up. It's the highlight of my month. My mental health has improved significantly since joining Recovery Art at the Barber.Recovery Art group member
Recovery Art will continue to be a programme that is a priority for the Barber team. Their hope now is that they can create longer-term plans to make it sustainable in order to welcome new members. The development of this programme will create more opportunities, support the resilience of their community and allow them to build upon their own collective resilience as an institution in response to and recovery from COVID-19.
The programme is for anyone aged over 18 who would benefit from being engaged with art and people. It is for those who need support with their mental or physical health, want to connect with people, define themselves as artists or simply want to try something new. All abilities are welcome, no experience of the arts is necessary. The workshops involve looking and thinking together, encouraging people’s own thoughts and creativity, so no prior knowledge of art or art history is needed.
Find out more about the programme on the Barber Institute website.