Fine Art Collector | Autumn 2018

Natasha Devon, mental health campaigner and author of a Beginner’s Guide to Being Mental, said: “We know the arts and creativity have a measurable therapeutic benefit, not just in recovering from mental illness but in maintaining mental wellness. They are therefore valuable for people at all points on the mental health spectrum. Unfortunately, when schools come under pressure, either financial or because their academic attainment is considered below par, arts tend to be one of the first things to be devalued, defunded and squeezed out of the curriculum (along with sport). “The government has recently published proposals which would make mental health education mandatory, but part of that would involve emphasising the importance of exorcising difficult feelings using creative methods. So essentially children are learning what they should do in theory but have no opportunity to put this knowledge into practice. “Furthermore, my book is centred on the idea that language can be an inadequate tool for expressing ourselves emotionally. This is particularly true of English, where we have a limited emotional vocabulary. I have seen pieces of art created by people in recovery who have captured the experience of living with mental illness far more accurately and powerfully than I could as a writer. Being heard and understood is a fundamental human need, but we must remember that not all communication is verbal". 

© Jonathan Donovan


Feversham Primary School in Bradford has been shortlisted for two national teaching awards; quite an accomplishment for a school that - only eight years ago - was in ‘special measures’. Recognising that the school was on a downward spiral, Head Teacher Naveed Idrees decided to integrate art, drama and music more broadly across the school day. The staff adopted the Kodály approach, which encourages children to learn subconsciously at first, through playing musical games. Children learn rhythm, hand signs and movement, in a way that will help their reading, writing and maths. The method proved

fruitful for the struggling primary school, and in June this year they were upgraded to a ‘Good’ rating by Ofsted and made it into the top 10% nationally for their pupils’ progress in writing, reading and maths. The transformation of Feversham Primary School makes a convincing case for the importance of creative arts in a child’s development, both mentally and academically. This is further supported by the British Association of Art Therapists, who claim that along with encouraging creative thinking and increasing the feel- good chemical dopamine, art can also stimulate your brain to grow new neurons.


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