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The magic of art and health

Posted by Hiromi Tango

Hello everyone, it is Mimi Lizard – my artist name in Derby! It has been a couple of weeks since I have arrived here, and I am really enjoying creating a big lizard tail with you all. Community support for the project has been positively overwhelming over the past two weeks. There have been far more enquiries from community organisations than I expected, and I am pleased to know that the magical lizard tail project has been warmly welcomed by the Derby community. Thank-you so much again for actively participating and supporting the project. Now our Big Lizard Tail at the Scout Hall is growing rapidly day by day, connecting everyone’s feelings and emotions.

The magic of art and health  workshops at the Scout Hall in DerbyThe magic of art and health workshops at the Scout Hall in Derby

I would like to talk about the Magic of Art and Health today as the way to answer some questions I am constantly being asked. “What is the Lizard Tail and how does this arts project contribute to brain health?”

The Lizard Tail project is a great opportunity to address how arts engagement can affect brain health. Along with a healthy diet, exercise and sleep, art can contribute to brain health. I have been asked by many people how Art can support mental health and wellbeing, so I would like to talk about the Five Ways to Wellbeing Model: “Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give” are the Five Ways to Wellbeing model, generated by the New Economics Foundation. It is an evidence-based model for the wellbeing, and provides helpful points to keep in mind for brain health.

These are all essential components of the community arts and cultural development approach to supporting wellbeing and brain health. Coming together for workshops achieves many of these objectives, where we are engaging in activities, making social connections and engaging in continuous learning. Specific ways of working, such as sorting and categorising, or documenting our stories, thoughts and ideas, are all great examples of how we can keep learning. And when we create collaboratively, we are giving to our community, strengthening our collective sense of pride and identity.

The whole-of-community sculpture and workshops (including the Lizard Tail sculpture) have been carefully developed through interdisciplinary research with a goal of using arts engagement to help foster a sense of wellbeing. Over several years, I have been working in collaboration with neuroscientists, educators and health professionals to develop specific visual and performing arts techniques including the use of colour, light, sound, movement, sorting, wrapping, and weavin, to contribute to brain health, recovery and development.

I call this approach Art Magic. Whether it is the healing effect that can happen when people share their experiences, hopes and fears through creative workshops and collaboration, or witnessing the impact that specific arts activities can have on brain development, emotional health and recovery, I am always amazed to see what can happen when communities come together through arts projects.

Please come to the workshop and chat with me about wellbeing, and your way of keeping your brain healthy or any stories you would like to share with me. Mimi Lizard will weave your emotions and stories to make a big magical dancing tail.

If you are available to volunteer to prepare for the workshops with children, please contact me (Mimi 0413 967 716). There is lots of cutting that needs to be done for the little artists to enjoy the workshop, and your contribution would be greatly appreciated.

See you soon!

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