When I first visited the Gallery it was in the Shopping Centre and was yet to evolve into what it is today. Personally I was in a very bad place in my life and needed as many friends and acquaintances as possible.
I was very interested in the Gallery and S2R (Support to Recovery). I quickly put myself up for volunteering as I knew it would turn into something much bigger than it first appeared. I was not wrong. Helping the Gallery to promote their charity and their cause, in turn has helped me to overcome my fears and doubts about my own capabilities as an artist, and also about my ability to speak out clearly and confidently for people facing mental health issues. I believe I have convinced a lot of people since then that we need to talk openly and accept that mental health problems cannot be swept under the carpet.
The Gallery has become my second home and know that if I ever have to face a mental health problem again, there will always be this friendly, relaxed place, where people meet up/ turn up and there will always be someone to talk to.
Diana Jordan, 2013
“The Gallery Saved My Life”
I was already a service user with S2R when I heard about the Gallery – I saw a poster advertising the new gallery and opportunities to exhibit and sell artwork. Didn’t really have any materials at the time, but the idea just grabbed me – it was like a beacon – I knew I had to take this opportunity. So I got an old canvas out of a skip and some emulsion and did the first painting. I showed the Gallery and they exhibited it - it sold straight away and I was able to invest the payment in next materials. My work featured as an exhibition at the Gallery too which was a massive buzz, and S2R/Packhorse Gallery introduced me to AIM – thought it would be good for me as they saw the standard of work and the need for a studio – I was just painting at my flat then – it took a lot of doing, a lot of fighting for and the support of others. The staff at the Gallery have done so much for me, I’ve never had support like that – knowing I’ve got that support and that people care is important. I have also exhibited my artwork elsewhere now, have a studio and sponsors – and all because of the Gallery. I also have opportunity to use my art to express myself, my illness – I can communicate to more people without saying anything.
The Gallery was a crucial turning point in my life – I was in a very low place, suicidal, didn’t want to leave the house – this was an important focus – it helped me through it – I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for the Gallery - the Gallery saved my life. It has been an amazing journey – hard, not the easiest of journeys but for the first time I see light at the end of a dark tunnel. It gave me something to look forward to, commitments and a place to go – I do get out of the house now. I am able to socialize more and meet people I’ve always wanted to but never been able to, my confidence has increased. Having the opportunity to do this has been very important – it is important I tell others how it’s helped me and encourage them to be involved. I have donated paintings to the Gallery – it’s my way of giving something back.