A critical platform for those working creatively within addiction, the criminal justice system, homelessness and mental health. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and by ICCE, TCCE and C4CC.

Critical Writing

Commissioned articles written by our collaborators in response to the key themes. 


Go Tell It to the Birds
Simon McCormack – Writer and Recovering Addict
In response to The “Other” and the Mental Health History of Practitioners

‘When you say paranoid – what do you mean? Exactly?’

He picks up a biro to make notes.

Tell him. Tell about trips and night time marches into the concrete. Tell about the weeping woman on the train and her reflection in the big, rectangle windows. Tell about covering mirrors in net curtain. Tell about obsessions with numbers. Tell about the music. Tell about the numbers and music.

Tell. Tell him about the movie, the drama, the soap opera, the game-show. Tell about the focus, the magnet, me, me, me. Tell about the foot going down wrong, the walking, tell about the walking and the foot going down wrong and getting shouted at in the street.

Tell him. Tell about the non-stop. Tell him rejection fuels rejection, breath fuels breath, tell about love, lack of love, blackout. Tell him this is not you.

‘What I mean,’ he says, ‘is if you see a red ball rolling towards you, down the street say, do you think it’s meant for you?’

Go Tell It to the Birds was published in The Big Issue


With art as a tool for reflection and change, is foreshadowing a past the artist might want to move away from merely the way forward?
Linda Bartoli – Creative Therapeutic Practitioner
In response to Providing and Promoting Social Inclusion: One in the Same?

“In the back yard where I am residing leans a mirror against a wooden fence with a sentence written on it in permanent marker – Something good is gonna happen to me soon.

“As the words were put to glass, I was not part of the experience; I was nowhere to be found. The letters standing on their own are meaningless. The impact has no specific significance to me. I am unmoved but alerted.

“S o m e t h I n g g o o d I s g o n n a h a p p e n t o m e s o o n .

“At a second examination, I notice that a capital letter starts the string of letters and a period; a full stop makes it a sentence. When I step in front of the letters, I see my image and I am attached to the words. It is a personalized message, “Something good is gonna happen to me soon.” I smile. Placed together the words give way to a context that evokes a present, a past and a future; a fantasy of what I wish will happen, where I am now and what I know has already happened.”



The Deceptive Loving Power of Words
Sylvia Battista – Artist and Academic
In response to Criticality and Evaluation in a Culture of Optimism

“I am going to look at the interpretation and use that funding institutions make of terms such as growth, wellbeing and rehabilitation; exploring the underlying semantic conflict with the meanings attributed to them by artists and social workers. What is problematic for most artists and social workers is in fact that institutions, embedded in a political apparatus that is highly informed by a capitalistic and consumerist system, fail to understand the complexity of the projects they fund.

“The fact that political discourse is embedded within an economy that is capitalistic and consumerist dictates that its institutions employ models of interpretation that are rooted in a quantitative framework. For example, growth in these terms means an increase in the amount of goods and services that an economy is able to produce and consume in time. Therefore, following this logic, rehabilitation and wellbeing will be evaluated according to the capacity of individuals to contribute to production and consumption. A happy person will be understood as a person capable of producing and consuming in great quantities and in a short time. A rehabilitated person is an individual that, after a period of disengagement, comes back to this chain of production and consumption. Quantity in materialistic terms is the underlining narrative of this perspective.”



Conflicts in Care: How do artists navigate notions of autonomy, collaboration and patronage in care settings?
Rhiannon Evans – Artist and Care Worker
In response to The Role of Art Practitioners’ Own Art Practice

“I am floating within a post-graduate space of consolidation of my personal art practice and my need to earn a living. I have a professional background in health and social care and my practice leans towards social engagement, collaboration and participation. I have a personal desire to make art and am also drawn art practice within a care setting. I know that art making is a therapeutic activity but recognise that I am not a trained art therapist.

“In addition, my personal position has changed recently through the uncomfortable recognition of my own physical limitations and a new label of ‘disability’ resulting from a diagnosis of a common medical condition that is, for the most part, invisible to others. Because of this alteration, I have taken on a new form of questioning which has lead me to consider, with some unease, issues around the intentions of my own art practice, of my commissioners and how these motivations may impact on clients and participants.”


A shorter version of this article has been published by The Rant – Axis Webzine


Art of the Marginalised: Public Property or Social Transformation? 
Ian Patel – Academic
In response to Providing and Promoting Social Inclusion: One in the Same?

“Recent years have seen an increased interest in the creative work of specific groups of people. In particular, exhibitions hosting the work of former drug addicts, homeless people, and criminal offenders have been provocative examples of such interest. These exhibitions rely on public interest in self- or untaught works of art, but also trade on the interest of general audiences in the extreme experiences supposedly implicit in such art…”


This article was published in ArtsProfessional


Case study of a project: ART vs REHAB
Jessica Akerman – Artist and Project Coordinator
In response to The Role of Art Practitioners’ Own Art Practice

“ART vs REHAB was devised by artist Hannah Hull, following two years of research in diverse rehabilitative art settings. Generating open dialogue between practitioners and stakeholders, its ultimate aim was to improve art services for a range of vulnerable social groups. The project revolved around six focus groups held in June 2012, each encouraging critical engagement with a different aspect of art and rehabilitation. The tangible outcome of these conversations is a series of free online tool kits designed to support people working in this context. My role was to coordinate these sessions, and assist in the follow up evaluation, press and marketing…”

This article was published in engage


Messerschmidt & Me
Scott Farlow – Artist and Recovering Addict
In response to The “Other” and the Mental Health History of Practitioners

“I have never met Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. But I feel like I have. He died in August 1783; a little over 185 years before I was born. He was also German; I am not. Messerschmidt grew up in Munich and trained as a sculptor in Graz before becoming assistant professor of sculpture at the Imperial Academy of Vienna in 1769. In 1771 he suffered ‘confusion in the head’ and his expectations of gaining promotion to the Chair of Sculpture were sadly dashed. After further subsequent career disappointments Messerschmidt finally settled in Pressburg (now Bratislava) where he focussed his considerable talent as a craftsman on the production of a series of extraordinary character heads of ‘very strange aspect’ and for which he is best known…”

This article was published in Asylum Magazine


Simon McCormack – Writer and Recovering Addict
In response to The “Other” and the Mental Health History of Practitioners

“Names is a short absurdist sketch that explores the nature of creativity within a wider context of mental health in the workplace. It was provoked by the ART vs REHAB focus group in which we discussed how the mental health history of a practitioner impacts on / informs delivery. I was inspired by the idea of addressing mental health problems and diagnoses without talking about mental health…”

This article was published in  Asylum Magazine 



Hannah Hull





This entry was posted on 12/08/2012 by .
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