By Andrew Roberts
The Reflection Art Exhibition at the North Munster Masonic Centre was one of the first events which kick started Limerick Mental Health Week showcasing the brilliant paintings, sculptures and digital art of local Limerick artists.
Though the theme of the week is Psychological First Aid and the support people can provide to those in stress, the exhibition invited works of all subject matter that relate to mental health and was open to all artists regardless of their gender, age or profession.
Speaking at the exhibition, event organiser Amanda Clifford said:
“There’s all walks of life here that are showing their work, from established artists whose work is worth thousands, to beginners who do art because it is a good form of communication for them and good for their mental health.”
Having run the event for the last five years, Ms. Clifford has managed to pull together a wide range of artists that are loyal to the cause of mental health. Working as a counsellor and art therapist she’s noticed over the years that, “any time we’re creative, it helps us live in the here and now and helps us release negative energy.”
There is a range of different works on display that each tackle different aspects of mental health through the varied points-of-views of the individual artist. As Amanda put it, “Everybody belongs.”
Local artist Merrie, was a newcomer to the exhibition space and decided to put her artwork forward because she felt mental health was important. Growing up she had watched the hardships that her sister, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, had experienced:
“It was a thing nobody talked about. They literally locked people in rooms and would tell the community they had gone away. It was a stigma in families.”
She said it was crucial for communities to be open and talk about mental health so people don’t experience further distress by remaining silent.
Project Manager of Mental Health Week Claire Flynn said that art was a great way for people to find focus and blow off steam if they were experiencing difficulties with their mental health:
“Distraction can be such a great tool when you’re worried or stressed about something. To do something that might be totally different to what you normally do every day can give the rest of your brain a small holiday. So that focus that comes with creating art can be very good for you.”
The exhibition will run from October 9 to October 15 and will be open to the public free of charge from 12 midday until 5pm, except on Thursdays when it will close at 2:30pm.
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