We applied for Huddersfield Soup No.5 and sadly weren’t selected. However, on the afternoon of the event I received a call to say the reserve pitch had dropped out and therefore at #6 in the selection order we were now #5 and therefore could present as the reserve pitch if available at such shot notice. This meant were weren’t eligible to pitch for the funding but could share our project and ask for in kind support.

Vanessa and I made it to the event and heard all the other pitches, grabbed a quick chat about what to cover and then I got up on the stage and ‘pitched’ to a room full of people.  The things we asked for were:

  • Potential collaborators – people who might want to run workshops or events that would generate content (stories, poetry and art) for the newspaper, especially with ‘non-artist’ people who would not necessarily make or submit things independently, and also people who might want to link in for the launch next Spring with events such as poetry readings, performances or workshops along the Penistone Line either on the train or at stations.
  • Printing! Our main expense in producing a newspaper on a shoestring budget is inevitably the printing. Our main funder has stipulated that they would like to match fund and in kind contributions can also count. The only ‘advertising’ we want to include in the newspaper is signposting to relevant services and partner/funder organisations, so revenue from advertising is not going to cover printing costs. Therefore reduced rate or even free printing services would help us massively to redirect funds to other areas.
  • Spreading the word. One of our main challenges is getting the word out to the wider community further than our existing art networks. I’ve already contacted several local organisations and asked they share the open call and talk about it to anyone who will listen! We also know it’s hard for people to express first hand experiences about mental health even if they are practising artists/writers where making/writing is a practiced skill. We had a really good chat with a mother and daughter at the event who had multiple stories of friends’ and families’ battles with mental illness and failures in underfunded MH services. The outcome of this conversation is that they are interested in collating (anonymised) stories for publishing. Thankfully I’ve just attended a data protection and GDPR training event so feel up to date on how to make sure these stories will be truly anonymous and appropriate consent achieved.


I had hoped to update sooner but my hard drive died. I bought a new harddrive and and caddy and miraculously retrieved my data off the dead drive.

I bookmarked a load of links I’ve been reading on my phone as I couldn’t seem to copy and paste links into the blog interface without everything messing up so have stored up a few links for one blog post:

First it made sense to see what other a-n artists had written. I remember reading Alistair’s blog when it was first published and thought how refreshing his honesty was in discussing these ‘career suicide’ issues. https://www.a-n.co.uk/news/artists-mental-health-depression-neither-romantic-inevitable It’s a bit of a heavy label to say ‘this is about mental health’.

The link between creativity and mental health is in some ways well trodden, popularist ground, and google will throw up result like this: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/creative-explorations/201503/creativity-and-mental-illness but to find any indepth inquiry without subscribing to academic journals seems a bit hard to come by. Maybe this is a search term issue as it’s such a wide field.

You can find google results naming names of ‘artists and mental health’ eg http://www.hungertv.com/feature/five-contemporary-artists-exploring-mental-health/ but it doesn’t give much information further than a vague overview.

As a parent, my children’s mental wellbeing is now of utmost importance and these kind of headlines catch my eye: http://metro.co.uk/2018/01/08/how-should-we-talk-about-mental-health-in-schools-heres-what-the-experts-say-7164921

Emotional intelligence and emotional wellbeing starts from infancy, but mental wellbeing is lifelong. If we don’t learn early, these skills may be lost or hard to reach. ttps://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10156247468906407&id=638951406

I also found that there’s a Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival https://www.mhfestival.com/ and they have a few video uploads, the men’s mental health one was particularly interesting: https://m.facebook.com/mentalhealtharts/video_grid/

TED talks are also a useful resource and this on resonated in relation to our project: https://www.facebook.com/TED/videos/10159946160830652/

Finally, my co-curator Vanessa Haley found this gem by Virginia Woolf on illness:

“Finally, to hinder the description of illness in literature, there is the poverty of the language. English, which can express the thoughts of Hamlet and the tragedy of Lear, has no words for the shiver and the headache. It has all grown one way. The merest schoolgirl, when she falls in love, has Shakespeare or Keats to speak her mind for her; but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry. There is nothing ready made for him. He is forced to coin words himself, and, taking his pain in one hand, and a lump of pure sound in the other (as perhaps the people of Babel did in the beginning), so to crush them together that a brand new word in the end drops out. Probably it will be something laughable.”