Positive People Art Exhibition, 4th May

New exhibition paints a brighter future for artists 

An exhibition of arts and crafts from some of Plymouth’s most inspiring new artists opens on Saturday (Saturday the 4th May) in the city centre. But perhaps the most significant thing on show is the transformative power of art to change lives for the better.

Most of the fourteen individuals showing their work in the Positive People exhibition at Moments café are first time artists: all are long-term unemployed while many face significant challenges in their lives. Now, after a five or six-week art course where they have focussed, and been guided, on several disciplines, they have each succeeded in creating a body of work that is significant and of value. Eliza Reynolds, one of the participants, says it really has changed her life;

“It’s very rare for me that I get to be myself and let my barriers down and I felt that I could,” she says adding, “It’s been a massive thing for me.”

Since completing the Positive People course Eliza has started a ten-week photography course and put her name down for a trip to see and photograph the Northern Lights. She believes the course and the way each person is supported, has helped increase her confidence and, significantly, enabled her to see her future as a photographer;

“We had a day on Bigbury Beach and that was amazing. You could go into your own bubble and do your own thing and just be yourself. And then we had a day in the studio where we shared our work with the other people. I’m not very good in social situations but this was done in a really safe way.”

Since it started in April 2017, the Positive People Project in Devon has supported more than 1250 people. Many have been living with serious difficulties and challenges that they admit has left them feeling over-whelmed and disempowered. Instead of dismissing these difficulties the Positive People programme helps people to face their problems and overcome them, for example, supporting them on issues such as, building their confidence, coping with anxiety and improving relationships. Chris Maccullie, the project’s community enabler says, there is no stereotype;

“I can’t describe the breadth of people I work with,” says Chris, “It’s so huge. There are so many people who fall through the net and haven’t been caught, people who for whatever reasons, need a hand to get back on their feet.”

Instead of dismissing these difficulties the Positive People programme helps people to face their problems and overcome them, for example, supporting them on issues such as building their confidence, improving relationships, anger-management and job search. At the same time, the project gives people opportunities to try out new activities in a group, such as, mountain-biking, photography and wood-whittling. As Chris says, it is a new way of supporting people, but one that can bring about a profound change and give people a sense of hope for their future;

“For some people it is a kind of therapy. It allows them to find out new things about themselves; to push their own boundaries and get them out of their comfort zone while learning new skills. Here, they learn it’s ok to make a mistake.”

As well as the art work on display – which includes Eliza’s photography, oil paintings and pottery – there will also be workshops at Moments Café this Saturday, run by professional artists, for anyone wanting to have a go at being creative. The half-hour workshops, which are free-of-charge, will take place between 12.30 and 3.30pm and will include felting, decoupage, aromatherapy, jewellery and ipad sketching. There will also be a photo booth for people to have their portraits taken and printed.

For more information about Positive People, please contact Chris at POP+, Plymouth Octopus Project, on Plymouth 395131 or visit www.positive-people.org.uk