Fresh Art @

Fresh Art @

Aims & objectives:

  • To promote positive wellbeing, conversation and inspiration within hospital and community settings by bringing ‘fresh art’ into the environment.
  • To enable everyone to participate in socially engaged creative projects by providing workshops within the hospital, community settings and Bath Museums using the museum collections, including handling collections as creative inspiration.
  • To help people feel proud by providing opportunities for service users, staff, family and friends to exhibit their work and donate some of their artwork back to the project to help improve the hospital environments for others.
  • To support Avon & Wilts Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) service users, friends, family and staff to access creative opportunities in the local arts community and help everyone feel socially included.
  • To evaluate the project and integrate our learning from it. 

Description of the arts activity

Fresh Art @ has run three projects. All followed the aims stated above but have been sensitive to the requests and demands of the particular environment and people concerned as well as current budget and opportunities available to us eg Fresh Art @ NHS House was a direct response to an Experience Based Co Design project (Kings Fund) in which participants asked for the centre to be more inviting and suggested the use of plants and artwork.

Each project :

  • Engages service users and carers (family & friends) in learning new skills and making new art work.
  • Engages participants in choosing which art works are best suited to their particular environment.
  • Provides participants with opportunities and support to exhibit their own artwork publically as well as donate some of their work to the project for others to enjoy.
  • Employs professional visual artists to design and deliver creative workshops in museum venues and AWP inpatient settings. The workshops run for 12 weeks in different museum settings and between 3 and 6 sessions over the same period of time within AWP settings. Media includes painting ,drawing, print, photography, collage, fabric and 3D art form.
  • Provides access to museum collections and handling collections, including the Holburne Museum, American Museum, No1 Royal Crescent , Beckford Tower and the Herschel Museum of Astronomy.
  • Provides a pathway for service users and their families between episodes of mental health care and participation in the local arts community – including volunteering, peer led creative groups & arts education - suited to individual interests and abilities.
  • Transforms an AWP ward, unit or centre with Fresh Art which we aim to refresh every six months.

Details of the project participants

  • Anyone currently using primary or secondary mental health services.
  • Carers (friends & family) of anyone with mental health problems.
  • Volunteers

Participants can self refer to the project by using contacts on posters and leaflets. People are more often referred by the agencies involved. A referral form is available.

Project management

Project decisions and design is made by the Steering Group which meets quarterly and is made up of service users, volunteers, Fresh art@ worker, CW Creative Wellbeing Manager, AWP Art Therapists and AWP Service Users & Carers Involvement Coordinator, Bath Museum Learning & Community Engagement officer and Sirona Community Support Worker.

Project management and day to day decisions are shared between CW Creative Wellbeing Manager and AWP Art Psychotherapist with CW taking the larger responsibility for project planning and employment of artists and volunteers.

The Fresh Art@ worker is responsible for the majority of face to face work with service users, carers and different agencies as well the art work. They are the main day to day contact for the project being the ‘familiar face’ associated with it.

Cost to participants: free

Ethics & consent: A number of consent forms are in use and have been adapted over the 3 years.  Careful consideration of risk is also discussed and a procedure for transparency and sharing helpful material from each individual careplan with the agencies involved for delivering the workshops is being updated.

Evaluation methods and findings

Evaluation methods and findings: Various evaluations, reports and presentations have been written. The most recent is from a Focus group of the Fresh Art @ Ward 4 project which reported benefits of participation including:

  • Freedom to express yourself: nurturing individuality; freedom; becoming inspired; developing confidence and pride; finding a niche that feels authentic; noticing progress; identifying what works and doesn’t work for oneself.
  • Museums are inspiring environments to work in: being in a creative environment supported the development of skills; experiencing a relaxing and supportive atmosphere and being able to get close to objects.
  • Hope and looking into the future: participating in the workshops has created perspectives to looking forward and thinking what to do next.
  • Being taught by and artist: a secure structure that helps to get going, particularly with quick results to start with; expert advice and guidance; working across different media.
  • Experiencing community: the workshops themselves had an important social component.
  • Planning and Participating in the Exhibition: ‘superbly proud and chuffed’; it was a group experience; professional presentation of art work , learning how to plan a display and hang pictures.

Creativity Works wrote an evaluation of the first year of the project which is available as is an illustrated report from Bath Museums Partnership. Additional findings include:

  • Community Workshops: Overwhelmingly positive feedback, with emphasis on the project as a peaceful opportunity to relax, learn and develop creatively
  • Participation: The museums handling collections served as an aid to discussion e.g. passing of objects proved a useful method to develop group coherence.
  • Contentment through Creativity: Repeated observations of the positive impact of creativity on mood and stress-reduction.  Appreciation of the time workshops allowed for independent working.


  • The multi partner working required lots of time and resources – there may be an opportunity in future to streamline the management of the project without putting the joined up thinking and approach at risk
  • The project started slowly and built by word of mouth which was risky – a slower lead in time in future would allow for better publicity

Short films called ‘Audio Image Recordings’ (AIR’s) from current projects are in process. Recordings from Fresh Art @ Hillview 2014 are available to watch on:

A written evaluation of the pre edited audio is available

Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England