Growing confidence through creativity with the ST/ART project


5 October 2017

The ST/ART project is an arts project for people across Tayside recovering from stroke or acquired brain injury, and forms a substantial part of DCA's Learning Programme for adults. Our Learning team has been working in partnership with Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust (THAT) to sustain this way of working for the past 12 years. This year, 24 adults from Montrose to Kinross, all living with long-term conditions, such as stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain, attended the ST/ART summer school programme in our Print Studio, which ran throughout July and August.

" arts project primarily for people across Tayside recovering from a stroke or acquired brain injury."

Freelance printmaking tutors, DCA Learning team staff, and THAT volunteer artists work closely with ST/ART participants during the four different summer school programmes. This summer the group were introduced to lino-cutting, mono printing, drypoint etching and screen printing. For most of the participants this was their first experience of print making, of being in a print studio and, for many, of visiting DCA.

Project coordinator for Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust, Chris Kelly says;

The display we held in September was a brilliant showcase of this year’s summer schools and a celebration of every participant’s achievements within their programme and the work that they have produced."

“We always look to have a balance between new and previous participants each year and to use that to develop new friendships and support. The final display of the work in the DCA is a great way to celebrate everyone’s achievements and bring all the groups together as one."

"This year the prints made were especially vibrant and it adds such value to have them displayed at DCA.”

To mark the conclusion of the summer programme, the group held a celebration reception in our Activity Room where their prints then remaind on public display over five days. Here's a selection of participant feedback:

Although very tired due to concentration and learning new skills. The help was marvellous, meeting new people, socialising.

 “It’s been a really enjoyable experience and encouraged me to get out and try something new.

“Couldn’t wait to come back even though at first I thought it wasn’t for me.”

“Improved my mood by learning and producing new work.  Everyone was lovely in the group and the tutors were so patient (great!!)”

"It’s been brilliant to get involved again and build a relationship with everybody and watch their confidence quickly grow over such a short amount of time." - Saskia Singer, Volunteer Artist

The key aim of the overarching ST/ART project is to deliver creative engagement via a range of participatory arts programmes and to make a major contribution to the rehabilitation, health and wellbeing of the stroke and brain injured community in Tayside. The project is resourced through recurring NHS Tayside funding and provides artist-led programmes with participants across the patient journey; from inpatient rehabilitation, through community peer support groups to mainstream cultural settings like DCA.

Creative engagement and projects like ST/ART provide opportunities for these individuals to stand aside from their medical categorisation and rediscover positive, creative and experimental aspects of themselves - focusing on what people with long term health conditions can achieve, rather than what they can’t do due to their impairment. They can self-direct their creative goals. They can personalise the context of their work. They can develop new skills, learn alternative strategies and have a great time doing it. Everyone involved makes creative achievements that are tangible and can be celebrated. 

"...focusing on what people with long term health conditions can achieve, rather than what they can’t."

With ongoing research built into the project by THAT, the visual art making, gallery tours, talks and celebration displays of work are all shown to raise self-esteem, motivation, increase confidence, reassert individuality and promote independence for participants which can in turn change the way they are perceived by family, friends and even medical colleagues. 

We've found that DCA's Learning ethos of ‘see, think, make, do’ really works well in this project and when this activity is delivered within the context of the cultural mainstream, in an organisation such as DCA, the benefits are amplified and status of the work is further enhanced.

ST/ART matches perfectly with our core vision of ‘enriching people’s lives through art, culture and creativity' and has been a major part of our Learning Plan for over ten years. ST/ART also offers ongoing opportunities for Print Studio Learning team staff and the volunteer artists supported by THAT to develop skills and awareness in working with adults with particular support needs; it also raises awareness of disability issues by its strong presence three times a year across the whole building.

See what goes into a print making course with ST/ART@DCA:


Find out more about THAT online here and on Facebook

Find out more about DCA Print Studio and DCA Learning.

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