A British university is working to support recovering addicts in the world of art by offering them art lessons and a chance to show their work in a gallery among many great painters. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham in England has works by Rembrandt, Renoir, Rousseau, Monet Picasso and countless other famous artists.
Now the fine arts school is opening an exhibition with the work of recovering addicts to give them the opportunity to show their talent and support their creative expression. The short-run exhibition is called "Recovery Art at the Barber" and is part of a new project which sees the Barber nurturing the talents of mental health patients receiving treatment.
Learning Artistic Skills in Recovery
The art exhibition will showcase the paintings, sculptures and various pieces of addicts in recovery who are working hard to get their second chance at life. Some of the artists in the gallery such as Myatt, Wearden, Gallagher, Ambler and Senior are taking lessons and learning to how to handle clay, drawing or painting.
The addicts in the exhibition all suffer from either drug addictions or alcohol problems but their goal is to be as creative as possible while reflecting where they are coming from as well as their future without drugs. Their substance abuse began as an escape from problems or a crutch and evolved into a dependency that kept them prisoners in their own lives.
The Barber Institute has been assisting these recovering addicts by offering an educational art experience through Alex Jolly, the school's learning and access assistant. Jolly is able to help them discover their own hidden talent by allowing them to work with low cost materials like breeze blocks and bricks for carving. Every addict has been able to reveal their creativity and artistic talent they never knew they had.
Stories of Recovery and Creativity
One of the artists named Myatt is working through some of his regret for the mistakes he has made in his life running with wrong crowd in Newtown. At age 30 he chose to start his life over and change his mentality to a more positive and creative space working with clay, drawing and painting to get through the hard times.
He has been able to release many of his more painful emotions through his artwork which can depict his anger and sadness or whatever he may be experiencing on a particular day. His artwork is a way to creatively express those feelings and represent them physically. He has been inspired by the work the Barber Institute and discovered his favorite artists while working in the program.
David Senior, another artist being shown in the exhibition, was stuck in a downward spiral of alcoholism and dependency before his recovery. His alcohol abuse became so severe at one point that he nearly died in a hospital after drinking himself into a coma.
Many of his art pieces now are commenting on addiction and the experience of being in a state of mental illness and abuse. His recovery helped him to realize that people can experience freedom from alcoholism and still accomplish more with their lives.
Many of the artists in the program had severe addictions to drugs like heroin, cocaine or alcohol. Their addictions left them with their lives spiraling out of control. Now they have the chance to not only enjoy a drug-free existence but also share their creativity and experiences through their artwork.
The Barber Institute is giving them the chance to be shown in a gallery alongside the Masters of the art world. This ongoing project will help them stay motivated and independent in their sobriety.