Paint, Pot, Print: How Art and Mental Wellbeing are Connected

Georgia Thompson provides a look at Paint, Pot, Print, an exhibition Swarthmore Café are currently running in association with Love Arts Festival.

Celebrating creativity and mental wellbeing, the exhibition includes the works of Beth Smith and Neil Thompson, two local Leeds-based artists who incorporate social and political issues into their work.

Neil Thompson’s work focuses mainly on screen prints, as he repeats images and covers objects with words in a modern conception evoking comparisons to Andy Warhol’s famous pop art. His colourful piece Van Gogh’s Sunflowers imagines ordinary household items in a space different to that which is familiar. It is far removed from Van Gogh’s own pastoral images, yet the reference and colourful prints imply a connection to mental health, remembering the artist’s own mental health issues. The description provided by Swarthmore reads: “he is interested in depictions in art history taken from past events, and takes a post-modern approach in depicting them himself in a modern environment”, and this can be seen in works like his foot spas with repetitions of offensive words covering them. Another work, World Peace, is a digital print that showcases Thompson’s irony in having a pageant-queen doll, symbolising the material manipulation of world-wide issues.

Beth Smith’s art includes pieces detailing fantasy and ordinary subjects as she uses different mediums such as ink and drypoint etching. Her piece In the Woods at Night contains a delicate rendering of the human form in a forest of tangled vines. Smith imbues the darkness of the scene with bright reds, yellows, blues, and greens to create a lightness within the dark, perhaps imagining the possibility of hope for those who feel that there is none. Another piece shows a woman with the words “I will not explain myself” over her forehead, encouraging confidence in your actions and ignoring judgment from others, tying in with the feelings of anxiety that many people have.

With World Mental Health day having just been, the exhibition is aptly timed to comment on present issues, with art being one outlet to creatively think about mental health and wellbeing. The atmosphere is very easy-going, so if you fancy a coffee, it’s a quiet casual space to think and reflect while enjoying the exhibition.

The Paint, Pot, Print exhibition runs until the 31st October and is free to attend.

Georgia Thompson

Image Courtesy of Leeds Inspired