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Posted on the 12th June 2020

Creative service users and staff saw their ideas take flight after channelling their feelings about the coronavirus crisis into an art project.

The budding artists from Guild Lodge, part of the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust adult mental health facilities, in Preston, put brushes to paper as part of a piece of work entitled Bird Flight.

The project, the brainchild of occupational therapist and keen artist Mark Love, focused on the idea of coming out of the global pandemic using the theme of birds.

Service users and staff from all 15 wards at the secure mental health unit were involved as a way to bring people together and create a positive piece of work during such a difficult time. They were asked to work as a team to come up with their own ways of expressing the theme of looking to the future as the world emerges from the crisis. The service users, who are aged 18-65, then had the choice of where and how to display their finished artwork. 

Art is one of the activities used in therapy sessions run by staff, but occupational therapy areas have been temporarily closed during the lockdown, with people remaining on the wards.

Mark said: “We’ve had some amazing ideas expressed through art, including from the Langdon ward, which designed a cage with birds wearing face masks flying out of an open door. Because everybody has been restricted in where they can go, we wanted to come up with something positive they could work on as groups and look to life after lockdown.”

While movements have been contained to wards, Mark has also been sketching the people at Guild Lodge as a way of recording a piece of history for the facility.

He said: “I wanted to capture what it’s like for us to have to wear masks and take the precautions we’ve had to, because it does impact on service users, many of which have brain injuries and struggle when they can’t see full faces.

“Art has such a positive impact on people as a way of communicating. It can bring people of all abilities together and raise self-esteem when they see what they’ve produced. I find a lot of people don’t have very positive experiences with art, because of lessons they had at school, but quite often they discover talents they didn’t know they had.”