Mental health group share their passion for art with new book

JUST over a year on from their first meeting, members of a group which aims to support people suffering with mental health issues, has now completed its first project- an anthology of visual art, poetry and prose.

TAG, which has been holding weekly meetings at The Maltings and latterly in the upstairs of Bon Marche, was the brainchild of Chirnside’s Wendy Ward.

As someone who suffers with a mental illness herself, Wendy was keen to set up a local support network for others in the same position and saw the arts as a way for people to channel some of their thoughts and anxieties.

The result is ‘Please Remove The Label, which as well as showcasing the work of 30 adults from all over the Borders and north Northumberland, provides a moving insight into mental illness.

The pieces in the anthology, which was launched with an exhibition at Berwick library on Monday, range from poems written by individuals to collaborative pieces of art and Wendy, who compiled and edited the book, said she was delighted it had now been published.

“Being able to hold the book in my hand is a testament to all of the hard work that people have put in over the past year,” she told ‘The Advertiser’.

“It was something that everyone could contribute to and I’m thrilled that we can now see the outcome. At times I felt it was going to fail miserably and we’d have to give our funding back but it’s boosted the group’s confidence no end.

“One member now feels able to go back to work while another has re-discovered their passion for art and wants to do that full-time.”

The project was funded by See Me, Scotland’s national campaign to end the stigma and discrimination of mental ill-health and like Wendy, See Me’s Campaign Development Officer, Joan Bree, said she was proud of what TAG had achieved.

“This goes to show that when someone has a passion for something their illness doesn’t have to hold them back.

“Art is an excellent way of getting the message across and is a great platform for people to express themselves.”