The Love Arts Festival is an annual celebration of creativity and mental well-being in Leeds. In its 8th year, the festival aims to get people talking about mental health. The festival is made up of exhibitions, performances, gigs, films, workshops, discussions and more and all taking place in different venues in Leeds, from dedicated art spaces such as the Tetley gallery, to shopping centres and cafés frequented daily. The theme for this year’s festival is ‘connect’, which is explored in various ways through the events taking place.
One of the main exhibitions of the festival, Highlights, run by the Leeds-based organisation Arts and Minds, showcases the work of its members, a network which includes people who use mental health services, carers, mental health workers, and artists with an interest in mental health issues. The exhibition is located in an empty shop on the ground floor of the St John’s shopping centre. The exhibition is flamboyant, filled with colour and a range of materials and practices. The works suggest that the participating artists want to show a vibrant side to mental health. There is a wide collection of paintings, prints, photography and other 2D forms throughout the exhibition. Other forms include a series of driftwood sculptures, ceramic vases, plates and ‘pods’ which are meant to be held, and a wall installation of decorated umbrellas. There is also a patchwork piece titled The Positive Patchwork, created by patients and staff at the Yorkshire Centre for Eating Disorders (YCED, now ‘CONNECT’) alongside the artist Hayley Mills-Styles. The work was made with the aim to “spread messages of hope and optimism for the future, and to motivate us all to sustain positive changes in our lives”. Most of the art works in the exhibition are available for purchase.
Other exciting events for the Festival include a free all-day event of workshops, interactive installations and exhibitions at the Leeds City Museum on Friday 12th October. One adult workshop ‘Move and Make’ with Paperworks, will explore the connections that support our wellbeing through paper craft and creative movement. On Saturday 13th October there will be a free afternoon of live performances, interactive installations and creative workshops at the Tetley gallery, featuring ‘The Kick Off Boys Project’, a showcase of live dance and digital work, including a film installation, exploring mental health issues amongst working-class boys and young men.
The Love Arts Festival ends on the 14th October but there are many exhibitions that continue until late October; Paint, Pot, Print is an exhibition that displays paintings, pots, and prints by Beth Smith and Neil Thompson, informed by life drawing and influenced by social and political issues. The exhibition is at the Swarthmore Education Centre in Leeds and continues until the 31st October. In addition to this, Bek Boheme’s works are on display at The Reliance until 28th October, with the exhibition focusing on atmosphere, seascapes and faces.
For more information about other small exhibitions taking place in bars and cafés around Leeds, you can visit the Love Arts Leeds website.
Image Courtesy of Love Arts Leeds