Last Tuesday’s ‘Art and Shine’ was my final session with this lovely group, though it is actually their penultimate workshop. Though I’m really sad to miss the farewell next week, it has given me a different vantage for this 3rd session and the opportunity to observe impactful moments that might otherwise have passed me by.
The dynamic of the group has evolved so beautifully in just 3 short weeks and has created a really welcoming and nurturing space. There is a wonderful, positive and trusting energy amongst these once-strangers, and even as I engage in a dual-role both as a participant and as a mentee, I feel very much part of this group.
Tuesday’s activity was the formation of a ‘vision board’, a creative task that uses magazines as a stimulus to help bring thoughts and aspirations to the fore by laying them out in pictorial form. Prith invited us all to look through the magazines and cut out pictures that we felt represented what we wanted to see in our future. This could be a very literal interpretation (a picture of a flourishing garden to show that you want to nurture your own green space) to a more abstract representation (a picture of a plane to show a yearning to journey somewhere new).
Prith gently challenged all of us to consider and respond to the significant question ‘what do you want?’, which referenced and built on guided talk from session 2 about the theme ‘what you focus on is what grows’. Everyone had agreed with this idea – that our energies should be directed on what we want in order that we might reach that goal.
However, the process of identifying that goal revealed the insecurities and vulnerabilities that I think exist in us all. By proclaiming your desire out loud, you feel more exposed to a reality where you could ‘fail’ in reaching that goal, or even be told by others that it is ‘unachievable’. The group activity of producing individual vision boards was perfectly timed as now there was a sense that we were bonded by common experience, and we were keen to encourage one another to fulfil the potential that we saw in all of us. Creating vision boards in this context therefore provided a lovely space to combat fears and declare dreams as publically or privately as you wanted, whilst also providing a focus and giving permission to believe that, as Walt Disney once proclaimed, ‘if you can dream it, you can live it’.
It also allowed for the subtle crossover of multiple goals which in the process of acknowledging as important you can also begin to prioritise. A great way to organise thoughts, realise what is most valuable to you and so start thinking about the steps you need to get to where you want to be. The vision board is designed to be both long-term and flexible, it is there to inspire and motivate but not dictate and as you grow and flourish so your vision board can adapt and grow with you.
The Welsh Government sees the arts sector as playing an important role in supporting education and creating employment. The 2015 – 2020 report ‘Creative learning through the arts – an action plan for Wales’ recognises the vital role that creativity plays in schools for educational attainment and personal development. On a wider scale that looks at the benefits to society, the Arts Council Wales’ ‘Inspire – our strategy for Creativity and the Arts in Wales’ recognises that ‘increasing the reach of the arts is fundamental to addressing inequality’ and that the arts bring ‘meaning, authenticity and joy to our everyday lives’.
This is what is so relevant and valuable about the ‘Art and Shine’ sessions as they provide a space that not only has more tangible practical benefits in terms of skills development but also has hugely and vast-ranging benefits to mental health and wellbeing by simply being a space where joyful moments are created. And, if you’re still not convinced of the particular benefits of a vision board for helping to achieve this – see the Huffington Post’s 7 reasons as to why a vision board will help you accomplish your goals, and perhaps have a go yourself!