These are just some of the evocative artworks and poems produced by men facing mental health disorders and who have been involved in the criminal justice system.
Patients at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust’s (NTW) Bamburgh Clinic, based at St Nicholas’ Hospital in Newcastle, worked in art and creative writing sessions over several weeks to develop the project, ‘Words From the Art Room’.
The work will now be exhibited at the unit until Christmas, following an opening ceremony last month (October) where patients performed their poems to an invited audience.
The words and images have also been turned into postcards, which will be used to highlight the benefit of creative work in mental health care.
One patient, M*, said: “Firstly, the ‘Words from the Art Room’ postcard project has helped me put together some of my experiences through poetry. I went to the Baltic last October and the artwork inspired me so much I felt compelled to take the ambience of the building and the artwork and put it into words.
“Reading my poems at the event helped get my message across of how it felt having those experiences. A while ago I could not have stood up and read them, let alone write them, but I did and with support in a year, I can see how far I have been able to progress on my journey.”
D*, also a patient, said: “My poem had some words that were actually difficult to pronounce. I did not want to over-practise however as this might have made me too nervous. At the event I felt relaxed and confident however in actually speaking in front of the group of people attending.
“I received good feedback about my poem. As I was reading a poem written for last year’s National Poetry Day on this year’s National Poetry Day, it felt like it was a significant marker of the year’s progress.”
Fellow patient, A*, said: “I found that when I read the poem in front of an audience it was nerve-wracking but at the same time exciting. I do recommend that people should do more work in writing and art, as it is good for one’s confidence being able to show others your work. I did enjoy it and I would do it again if the opportunity arises.”
It is hoped the exhibition will go on to tour NTW sites before finding a permanent home in the main building at St Nicholas’ Hospital.
Arts Project manager at NTW, Jane Akhurst, said: “The creative programme at the Bamburgh Clinic affords patients the opportunity to explore creativity, learn skills and find positive expression. This can be of real importance to people who are experiencing difficulties and are unwell.
“Just being together with like-minded people can foster hope and a sense of purpose. Opportunities to exhibit art work can help patients understand that there is real value in what they create and that it can bring enjoyment to others and provide an uplifting experience for everyone.”
Service manager for forensic services, Dennis Davison, said: “Being able to express oneself creatively is hugely rewarding for patients and also supports their recovery. They have produced some excellent work that is not just about expressing their creative skills but captures their emotions in words, sounds or visually, which is incredibly moving and evokes a sense of personal connection.”