Ball of Chalk, a London art collective, is embarking on an inventive new project to develop an Art Therapy café in one of London’s most deprived areas. Targeted at people who are experiencing difficulties with homelessness, alcohol and mental health but open to all members of the public, the Art Therapy Café will break down barriers to accessing creative therapy and provide a supportive, welcoming and inclusive environment on the high street. The Art Therapy Café will take place in an existing café in Haringey, North London,that caters for people who experience mental health difficulties.
Why it’s a great idea
Everyone can benefit from the time and space to improve their mental wellbeing, but unfortunately there are many barriers which can deter people from acquiring the support they need. Private therapy is quick to access but expensive, whereas lack of resources in the NHS and charitable sector means long wait-times to be seen, and time-limited treatment.
We wish to provide a new model of art psychotherapy: art therapy on the ‘high street’. This is an approach that is rarely taken, as therapy is often seen as a provision for people who are extremely unwell and takes place in institutionalised settings, such as hospitals, mental health facilities, schools, prisons and care homes. We want to shake up how therapy is viewed and hope that this model will have a far reaching impact on the art therapy community and mental health services more broadly.
In addition to our existing networks, we will promote the offer through local GP’s, community centres and art therapy circles.
The nitty gritty
The Art Therapy Café will operate for half a day (1-5pm), once a week. Upon arrival, customers will be greeted with an explanation about art therapy, helpful guidelines to follow whilst using the space (including confidentiality), art work from previous customers, and complimentary tea and biscuits.
A number of touch-points will be available for customers to access therapy:
- X1 Art Therapist will double up as a waiter/waitress and will be on-hand to provide individual support.
- X1 Art Therapist in Residence will be making art throughout the day, with a number of empty chairs to encourage therapy within a group.
- Art Therapy exercises will be made available on tables to encourage customers to use the available art materials.
Exhibitions and events programme
The Art Therapist in Residence will create an exhibition of their work in response to their time at the café, and will organise an accompanying events programme.
What we will deliver
Employment of two art therapists for half a day per week (one of whom is art therapist in residence.)
Purchase art materials and free tea and biscuits for sessions.
Create marketing materials to promote within the local area.
Create a programme of exhibition events
What is Art Therapy?
Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy which encourages expression of feelings and emotions through the medium of art. Art materials can include paints, pencils, collage and clay, as well as a whole host of other materials. Sessions take place on a one-to-one basis or in a group, in the presence of an Art Therapist. Their role is to enable self-expression through use of the art materials, and facilitate discussion around the artwork and any feelings that arise. Unlike an art lesson, where the emphasis is on the end product, in art therapy it is the process of making art which is the primary focus. For this reason, no previous art experience is necessary.
Art Therapy can be beneficial to everyone, young or old. It is often used to help people with mental health, behavioural and emotional difficulties, learning and physical disabilities, and physical illnesses.
About Ball of Chalk
Ball of Chalk is a London-based collective challenging perceptions of how and where art is viewed and experienced. Founded by two art therapists, we have a particular interest in the power of art to bring about insight and transformation.