Exhibition paints positive picture of benefits of art

A talented 22-year-old art student from Mallow is one of the exhibitors whose work features in this year’s ‘Reflecting Through Art’ exhibition organised by Cork Mental Health Foundation.

Exhibition paints   positive picture of benefits of art

The exhibition, which opens at Cork Airport this Thursday, showcases the work of 72 artists, all of whom have used the Mental Health Services.

Leila Doherty, a second -year student at the Crawford College of Art & Design, has two pieces in the exhibition. The first — an oil painting on cardboard — shows a girl lying on the floor of a very dark room.

“The room is like a cell. There’s a window up high with bars. The light is streaming in and the girl is kind of lit up. It’s a self- portrait I did last May.”

Her other painting uses mixed media. “It’s a mixture of tissue, paint, lace, charcoal, a kind of collage. It’s a very long picture,” says Leila.

“It’s like a forest and there’s a girl at one end, looking at the forest.”

Leila says art is form of escape and self-expression: “I wasn’t always good at expressing myself in a verbal way, though I am now. My art is a way of expressing myself. It takes me away from negative thoughts and situations — it’s a means of escaping from them.”

The exhibition contains 131 pieces created by artists from all over Cork.

Martina Ryan, education officer with Cork Mental Health Foundation, said that with titles such as ‘Time Spent Together’, ‘Spring Flowers’ and ‘Going Home’, the paintings are colourful and hopeful. “They’re very descriptive of the individual’s journey and very positive.”

The exhibition, she says, “aims to highlight the importance of art not just in recovery from a mental health difficulty but also as a positive coping strategy through difficult times”.

The exhibition is open to anyone using mental health services and has been running since 1996.

‘Reflecting Through Art’ will be at Cork Airport for six weeks before going on to other venues.

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