Introduction

Dwell Time was initiated by myself and Vanessa Haley after our good friend lost his battle with bipolar and depression in October 2017. He had asked us to do an art project raising awareness about bipolar, depression and suicide particular in young men. We had initially thought about a film festival as that’s one of our shared interests (and may still materialise yet!)

Vanessa spotted an article in one of the local papers about Men’s Shed and we approached them with some initial ideas for collaboration. They invited the Penistone Line Partnership and Creative Minds to be involved and we discussed a couple of ideas. The idea to produce a free train newspaper with drawings, illustrations, poetry and stories reflecting on mental health was the first idea to take off.

Men’s Shed (in the process of becoming Platform 1 with charitable status) suggested that one of their board members artist and poet Lenny Szrama get involved and after our initial meeting we were very keen to have him on board.

We drafted the open call for contributions and decided that we would also publish every contribution on the website (whilst the newspaper will have a selection and editorial process) so we can be as inclusive as possible whilst maintaining our curatorial vision in the printed edition.

We are now in the process of publicising the open call and planning the newspaper launch for Spring 2019.

I started this blog to both document the process of making the newspaper and also as a place to compile my related research into the wider subject area of art and mental health.

 


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We were at Sheffield Railway Station with our partner Penistone Line Partnership on Wednesday 15th May for Community Rail in the City 2019

The event was promoting the work of the local community rail partnerships and we had some copies of Dwell Time to give out and talk to people about. We trialled the new microphones and did some video interviews with Lenny and Rowena. Vanessa is editing those and we’ll upload them soon to a new Vimeo and/or Youtube channel.

On Friday we received the amazing news that our application for a YVAN Microgrant was a success! This grant will be used to put on an exhibition in Huddersfield over the summer of the work produced during our Issue 1 launch and will also double up as our laucnh of Issue 2 open call. Details to follow.

Yesterday we went to South Square’s first Wellbeing Weekend with some Dwell Time copies and spent the day audio interviewing practitioners and visitors about mental wellbeing. The event was great with a steady flow of people and a really relaxed and happy vibe. We met loads of lovely people, and had some great conversations. We also enjoyed an excellent Indian head massage from Judy Foody, learned how to make lip blam and had coffee and cake in between the interviews. We’ll upload these interviews to our new channel asap too and we plan to transcribe some for Issue 2 as well.


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Dwell Time at South Square Wellbeing Weekend

Excited to announce that Dwell Time will be at South Square Wellbeing Weekend with some copies of Issue 1 and inviting people to participate in interviews about mental wellbeing for Issue 2!

South Square Wellbeing Weekend

Saturday 18th May 2019

Begins at 10am

South Square Centre presents it’s very first wellbeing dedicated event. Bringing together local practitioners and friends of South Square to support a more centered approach to being well. Try out activities which already happen at the centre such as; Yoga and Tai Chi, plus meet tenants who provide complimentary therapies and friends with a passion for creative healing. We’ll end the day with a live music from Japanese band KUUNATIC. Daytime activities are free of charge.

1st PROGRAMME ANNOUNCEMENT

Register to attend here.

= Workshops for the mind and soul =

Self Esteem // What Makes You Well? // Death Cafe // Sound Session

= Complimentary Therapies =

Reflexology // Indian Head Massage // EFT Therapy

= Try a new practice =

Yoga // Thai Chi

PLUS:

Meditative Soundscapes

Lipbalm Making

Aromatherapy

Mood-boosting refreshments by Plenty

Live gig from 7pm:

KUUNATIC – Psych sounds from Tokyo


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We went to the Words In Mind: Understanding Bibliotherapy conference as part of Huddersfield Literature Festival today. Elaine from Words in Mind had kindly put copies of Dwell Time in delegate packs so 70 sector representatives received their copy today.

First session I learned about the history of bibliotherapy  and A Literary Clinic circa 1916  and books in the asylum / medicine for the soul.

Second session was about the 4 stage bibliotherapy process: Recognition (and catharsis), examination, juxtaposition and self-application.

Then I joined the Lisa Luxx’s reading Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss (amongst others) and wrote this:

Tired I am
Tired I said
Already I’m dreaming
Of time for bed

Early morning repeated
Yawning with zzz’s
Early morning repeated
Not enough of me’s

To do all the things
That I want to get done
And have time for myself
And have time for fun

But this is fun
And this is for me
And once we’re done
Time for napping it will be.


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What a fantastic launch week!
We officially launched last week along the Penistone Line and the reception of the publication has been amazing. Comments included: “You can tell a lot of work has been put into this.” “This is lovely.” “This is the best publication I’ve seen in a long time!” “This looks great – perfect reading for my train journey.”

We now have a low res pdf download (1.8MB) for general distribution: http://bit.ly/DwellTimeIssue1

We’re continuing to distribute free copies via our local networks/venues/events so get in touch if you would like to stock/distribute Dwell Time.

Here are some photos from the launch:

The Penistone launch had a small turnout and one attendee who lives and works in Penistone remarked that it was entirely unsurprising as in a mainly affluent area (but yes there absolutely are problems in Penistone), mental health issues are very hidden and not discussed. Unfortunately, having our film screening launch event in Penistone for Penistone Art Week turned out to be counterproductive as there was little promotion and no funding from the organisation, we would’ve been better launching in Huddersfield without being tied to a certain date and location. We might do a rerun in Huddersfield and/or Sheffield at a later date.

But, the small group of attendees (with LA based film director Anak Rabanal via Skype) meant we could have a really good group conversation and everybody inputting into the conversation. We talked about the barriers to people engaging in work like we are making and platforming, the difficulties sourcing funding and comparing the UK and US systems, and the processes behind producing the work. We discussed personal stories and how our personal narratives influence the work we produce. We also discussed the local issues and what more could be done to raise awareness and affect change. We left on a high note of we’ll plan future events/collaborations and that we’ve learned a lot on this journey.

Meanwhile in Sheffield, Amelia Baron’s Take 10 performances have gone down really well and the conversations I’ve been party to have been enlightening. We’ve asked Amelia to write up some of her encounters to form part of the documentation (we ruled out audio/video recording them early on). While I was there with my daughter, we met The Cereal Bar Lady, as she said she’s known as, who told us she does a similar thing to what we’re doing but in a much more ad hoc and informal capacity: giving homeless people a cereal bar and 10 minutes of her time. She gave my daughter a Vitamin Sea painted rock and advocated the seaside for mental wellbeing. Coincidentally, my daughter and I had given our biscuits and a copy of the publication to the homeless man outside the train station. He said it had been a really slow day that day (Friday).

As we were at the station there was an announcement that one of the trains had been cancelled due to someone being hit by a train. It’s the first time I’d heard that as an announcement: so matter of fact and without coded language. No more ‘obstructions on the tracks’: the staff tell it how it is. Perhaps the staff don’t care for protecting the public from the reality of what they deal with daily. Perhaps it reduces complaints when passengers know that someone has died. Perhaps we all just so desensitised to bad news that it’s our new normal. Well, I’m still dwelling on this; that unknown person who has become another statistic and how much of our work is about hearing and sharing people’s stories.


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International Day of Happiness started off sunny and warm and was really a very happy day for me, and I think the rest of the Dwell Time team.

We arrived at Huddersfield station for a press photo and a pinhole camera team photo with artist Bob Clayden who had set up a giant pinhole camera in one of the decommissioned train carriages alongside Platform 2 which is now refurbished into part of the charity Platform 1’s site.

Bob and Rose used the train carriage pinhole camera and a suitcase pinhole camera (Zebra Cam: a zebra print suitcase made into a pinhole camera) to take long exposure photos of commuters willing to sit for around 10 minutes relatively still (reading the publication is conveniently the perfect Dwell Time).

As we sat on the platform seats, we met a woman boarding the Sheffield bound train who works for the Anthony Seddon charity and we swapped stories. The charity was set up in memory of some who who died from bipolar and depression, much like the founding reason of Dwell Time.

As Bob, Rose, Lenny and Vanessa continued to engage people in conversation and take their photos, I jumped onboard the train to Sheffield to go and see Amelia Baron performing Take 10 at Sheffield Train Station.

Amelia had been performing for a few hours when I arrived and we had a quick chat about how it was going. It was a lot warmer than we’d both anticipated so I went to get more water and then I took some flyers and publications up to Site Gallery, with a quick look around the show.

When I returned I had a chat with the British Transport Police who seemed really interested in our project. The officer I talked with said if we wanted to issue a Freedom of Information Request, we could find out that in the last year that; out of the circa 24,000 incidents they attended, around 16,000 of those were categorised as mental health. These are often people in crisis and at risk to themselves or other people (mainly to themselves). A massive decline in funding to mental health support services and both preventative and crisis services is having a serious impact here – and this is just the tip of the iceberg from the perspective of the services on the ground responding to people in crisis.

On a more positive note, back in Huddersfield we had one of our awesome publication contributors Ben visit us and take part in a pinhole camera photo. Ben wrote the piece The Benefits of Being a Sieve.

These are poignant words in a world where everything seems on the point of collapse. It’s a valuable skill to be able to let go of things and not carry around the burden of problems you cannot fix: being a sieve has the benefit of lightness and also the added benefit of being reflective.

So… in reflection of the day: We had a great mix of people coming; from friends to new faces who were interested in our work, as well as people just going about their daily commute, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. People from all over have consistently commented on how great quality the publication is both in terms of look/feel/print quality and content. One of the best quotes from today was from Kevin at the charity Platform 1: “This is one of the nicest publications I’ve seen in a long time.”

Thank you all ❤


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