Soul Searching


Soul Searching exhibition : DETAIL Enlightened by Gary Makin

Monday, 8 February 2016 - 9:30pm - Sunday, 13 March 2016 - 9:30pm
Whole Venue: Open Monday - Saturday: 9.30am - 5pm
Exhibitions are also open to view on evenings when the venue opens for performances. Sunday opening times are from 1 hour before the performance starts.


Soul Searching: Exploring Mental Health Through Art and Poetry

In my role as curator at two local arts venues, over the past few years I've dealt with an increasing number of exhibitions related in some way to mental health. This led me to the thought that perhaps these exhibits could be brought together in some way. Following a call-out in late 2015, a rich and diverse selection of work became available to me which forms the exhibition that you now see. Submissions, including written work as well as visual art, came in from individual practitioners and from organisations from across the country, and we also had contributions arriving from Canada and Austria.

I've created two simultaneous exhibitions at Dewsbury Museum and the Lawrence Batley Theatre, both of which deserve to be seen and are very different.

The work on view in 'Soul Searching' is broad in scope. Some of it explores the dark recesses of the mind; other work uses the transformative power of art as a means to overcome mental health problems. Examining a range of complex emotional states (including regret, sadness and anxiety as well as self-reflection, peace and awareness), some of the artwork, such as that provided by Thomas Young, and Mara Acoma is heartbreakingly sad - whilst other pieces, such as "Enightened" by Gary Makin, which feels bright, joyous and positive - lifting the spirits.

Much of the artwork stresses the importance of creativity to well-being, and explores creative activity as a coping mechanism for traumas and conditions such as depression, post-natal depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer's disease, dementia and bipolar disorder. I hope that the work that has been selected provides a thought-provoking overview of some of the issues and conditions listed above; and that the varied responses from artists offer a valuable insight into mental health issues for gallery visitors.

                                                                                 Mark Milnes, 'Soul Searching' Curator, January 2016


Gary Makin's painting "Enlightened" (picture above) is part of a body of work that explore very dark difficult emotions and experiences (some of which are on display at Dewsbury Museum), alongside a series of animal paintings that are capturing some of the strengths and abilities to cope with what has gone before.


Thomas Young's series of portraits capture more than just the person, created with acrylic and graphite on paper 


Diane Hinchliffe brings to us an anthology "Behind the Poem", which as Poet in Residence at a couple of Care Homes, gave her the opportunity of exploring the impact of poetry upon wellbeing.  This is a selection of the poems created with and by older people including those with dementia.


Klaus Pinter has sent us all the way from Austria,  "The Lost Piece - one silkscreen on the floor", which displayed on the floor is a little unexpected!



Find out more about Visual Arts at the LBT