How does Your Art World support health and wellbeing?
In 2019 The World Health Organisation published a report called What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? The report looked at over 3000 studies from around the world which concluded that the arts play a major role in preventing and managing poor health.
Both making art and looking at art can be good for you. Here’s how…
To put it simply, making art or looking at art can help us feel good! The colour of paint, the texture of fabric, the sound of music or the smell of plasticine can all stimulate the senses and make us happy. Sometimes art also helps preserve our cultural traditions, helping us feel a sense of belonging and therefore increasing our resilience.
Making art can help us emotionally. Children have told us that making art helps them when they feel angry or sad. Making art can help us make sense of things and express emotions that are hard to put into words. Sometimes, using our imagination can help us to forget our problems or to imagine different ways to deal with problems and find solutions.
Art is a safe space where we can experiment, take risks, fail and learn to fix our mistakes so we become resilient. Your Art World suggests processes to help you generate more than one idea, so when things go wrong you have other ideas to fall back on. Something might not work exactly how you planned to start with, but analysing what you did, experimenting and playing can lead to new insights, approaches and help build your confidence to try again.
Artists are also experts at dealing with uncertainty and welcome new opportunities and challenges, rather than fearing the unknown. Using your imagination to solve problems is an important skill that you can use in art and in other situations too.
Your Art World encourages social interaction. We want you to chat to other people, listen and share ideas as a way to help you grow your own ideas. You might also collaborate to make art with other people. Listening to and respecting other opinions can reduce discrimination, which is linked to mental illness and other health conditions.
Art can also help us communicate important ideas – about health, about society, or about the planet. When we look at art we see the world through the eyes of the artist. Artists can show us a different point of view, make us think about things differently and they can even help change the way people think or act if their message is persuasive.
Brain and body
Art can actually change how our body functions. Research has shown that art can reduce stress, increase immunity and help our heart function. Learning and skills development are linked to a lower risk of developing dementia and mental illness. Art activity can also be prescribed as a therapy or treatment to improve health.
Physical activity can be involved too. Making art isn’t just about sitting down to make small drawings. You can move about and use your whole body, like the action painter Jackson Pollock, or you might build a sculpture that is bigger than you are. The artist Richard Long went on walks as part of his art making process. We encourage you to experiment. Using different art materials can help develop your fine motor skills, like handling scissors, moulding clay or controlling the marks made by a pencil, brush, or lino cutter. We encourage you to use your whole body - making artworks of different sizes. You might even put yourself into the artwork as part of a performance. Most of all, we want you to have fun!