AN INTRODUCTION TO ART THERAPY
These days, we hear the term ‘art therapy’ a lot more frequently than we used to, with the benefits of balanced living, wellbeing and mental health being a regular topic in the media, alternative treatments and therapies are more widely shared and debated.
Yet art therapy is by no means new.
Despite officially ‘beginning’ in the mid twentieth century, the roots of art therapy actually date back to the late 1700s. During this time, a new ‘moral treatments’ were explored as increasingly humane ways to treat patients with mental health issues. Whilst these mainly focused on domesticated tasks, such as gardening and cooking, later this expanded to include hobbies: sewing or drawing, during which individuals and patients were encouraged to use the expressive capacity of making art to communicate their emotions.
Nowadays, art therapy is a well-known, tried and tested therapeutic tool, used within mental health care, prisons, schools and other medical environments – read on to find out more.
What is art therapy?
Art therapy focuses on self expression as a therapeutic technique. Emotions and thoughts are explored through a variety of ways, including painting, drawing, colouring and modelling. In this way, art therapy involves three factors: the therapist, the client, and the art itself. Through self-expression, art therapists believe, people are able to feel more connected to the world around them.
Art therapy can help us work through traumatic experiences, tackle high levels of stress, develop memory and interpersonal skills and create a sense of fulfilment and personal pride, as well as giving sufferers from serious illnesses some relief or escapism.
Why is Art Therapy important to us?
We are huge believers in the powerful capacity of art to not only influence your mood, but transform lives. Since founding the Affordable Art Fair in 1999, we have raised £1m globally for charitable causes including art therapy charities, such as the Sovereign Art Foundation in Hong Kong, Imperial Health Charity in the UK and The Art Therapy Project in New York, to spread the word about the vital work that these organisations do. Whether it’s raising awareness of their causes, raising money at our Private Views or running workshops at our fairs alongside these partners; heading to an Affordable Art Fair is a great way to find out more about the impact art can have on the lives of many.
But it’s not just about working with charities. Furthermore, we also believe that surrounding yourself with art, whether it is created by you or an artist, is a wonderful way to influence your mood. We certainly have experienced the calming, invigorating, inspiring and empowering effects that art can have on the viewer or collector. Our fairs and online shop provide a varied smorgasbord of the many prints, photographs, sculptures or paintings that through their use of colour, texture, or subject matter, embody a wonderful, almost healing quality.
Art to soothe, inspire and invigorate
Take the intricate, multi-layered works of Elisabeth Lecourt, who uses folded vintage maps to create her beautiful dresses, shirts and kimonos. As Lecourt describes, her practice is all about 'trying to make something beautiful and precious and this is the thread that runs through my work’. Works such as these have an intense materiality which can prove soothing and captivating in equal measure, as the viewer imagines the steady, methodical process that each piece involves.
Other artists rely on colour to create certain moods. Corinne Natel’s abstract and fluid colours spread across the paper as if in water; her deep, enriching tones creating a soothing, almost mesmerising effect. Pieces such as Russell Frampton’s Twenty Tides, with its concentrated, deep blues, provide a gorgeously soothing feeling. Yet sometimes, it is the simplest of works that really move and calm us, such as the stark simplicity of Claire Burke’s Silver Leaf On Bespoke Panel.
Getting involved at our fairs
And remember, our fairs are brilliant ways to engage in some creativity of your own; join us for one of our bespoke and ever-changing workshops which have included painting, screen printing, collage, dry-point print making and pin-hole photography amongst so many others. Even if you don’t see yourself as a natural-born Picasso, you can still enjoy getting hands on and having a moment of creative calm and immersion.
As you can see, art therapy is a cause very close to our hearts - we hope this blog has left you feeling informed and inspired to try your hand at some creative expression at home or one of our future fairs.
Beatriz Elorza, Entre Las Ramas, 2017, original, signed, £1,200, Turner Barnes Gallery.
Featured art from first to last:
Jafar Chalipa, All Grey, 2016, acrylic, original, signed, £780, Capital Art London.
The Art Therapy Project at Affordable Art Fair New York, Spring 2018.
Corinne Natel, Sea Traces, 2017, acrylic, original, signed, £850, Caiger Contemporary Art.
Elizabeth LeCourt, Tiger Lily Tente Capuchon, 2017, paper, original, signed, £2,900, Kahn Gallery.