How a mental health project inspired a countywide exhibition

A project designed to help residents at a mental health move-on scheme gain confidence and learn new skills has taken on a life of its own – as a touring photographic exhibition.

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Artist Sarah Bourne was invited to work with residents at a new supported scheme at Library House, Ramsgate, built as part of the Kent Excellent Homes For All PFI scheme and now managed by West Kent Housing Association.

She said at the time that the aim of the project was to help those taking part “think creatively, express themselves and explore the visual aspect of the world around them”.

Sarah taught the group some photographic skills and then took them to a variety of seaside locations across Thanet, where they let their creative juices flow.  As soon as the results went on display in Library House it was clear they deserved a wider audience.

Now some of the best photographs have been mounted on large canvasses and are being displayed in the five extra care schemes built as part of the same PFI project.

“The photographs were so impressive that we felt they deserved a wider audience,” explained Innovation Manager Illa Scopel. “We selected some of our favourites and had them professionally mounted and now they are going on display across the county.”

The touring exhibition was launched at Copperfields in Ramsgate, where residents who cast a critical eye over the photographs were all very impressed. They will now be displayed at schemes in Dover, Tenterden and Hawkhurst before ending their tour in Dartford.

Sarah Bourne commented: “It was a privilege to work with the residents on this project and amazing to see how much the course boosted their confidence and broadened their horizons as well as teaching them new skills.”

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