Unique UK-wide tour lifts mental health
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Friday, July 19, 2024

Unique UK-wide tour lifts mental health
Installation view of Journey of the Mind at New Art Exchange, Nottingham. 2023. Photo courtesy WSWF.

NOTTINGHAM.- Journey of the Mind is a touring exhibition by arts organisation Without Shape Without Form (WSWF).

Following a Queen’s Award for their involvement in a successful lockdown food bank project, which served 1 million hot meals, WSWF’s touring exhibition addresses themes of mental health post-Covid.

Having recently closed a successful exhibition at the Arnolfini, the latest edition is set to open at New Art Exchange in Nottingham, running from 28 January to 22 April 2023. With the support of the Arts Council, they are presenting new commissions by Canadian artist Kanwar Singh and British animator Christian Wood. Specifically for Nottingham, the public programme includes a local football partnership to tackle issues around mental health.

The exhibition is travelling along varied places within the UK, Birmingham, Glasgow, Bristol, Nottingham, and encourages cross-cultural dialogue through accessible messaging and an engaging public programme.

WSWF is a unique arts organisation within the UK. Founded in 2017 to champion the universal value of Sikh teachings and heritage in a contemporary context, the volunteer team creates moments of multicultural exchange and dialogue around art, spirituality and mental health. With universal relevance, Sikh teachings explore how to find peace during troubled times, encouraging focused practice, a strong sense of community and service to others.

WSWF – from food bank heroes to UK tour

For everyone

WSWF, an independent arts organisation and gallery run by a team of 41 volunteers, understands the word Sikh to mean learner. Determined to overcome preconceived ideas about Sikh teachings, especially those who want to pigeonhole it as a religion, WSWF advocates it as a way of life that is relevant to everyone – regardless of their background.

Modest beginnings

The arts organisation was founded with modest ambitions. In 2017 they held their first exhibition, planning to run a brief 15-day event for the local community in Slough, and relying on ad hoc promotion through social media and word of mouth. If a hundred people showed up, it would have been a success according to the organisers. Over 4,500 people attended the opening day.

Following their unexpected success, the Arts Council approached the WSWF founders and encouraged them to apply for funding. In 2019, with support secured for their second exhibition, they marked the 550th birth year of the first Sikh Guru (teacher) – yet like so many others at that time, the Covid-19 pandemic unfortunately cut the exhibition short. But that wouldn’t deter them from their mission.

Food bank heroes

Following the curtailment of WSWF’s exhibition programme due to the pandemic, they were determined to keep pushing ahead.

The result was a testament to the ambitions of the volunteer team. As part of the wider GMGG Charity, their volunteers helped launch a food programme which distributed 470 tonnes of food across a 90-day period – serving over 1 million hot meals by working with 135 charities around London, which in turn won them a Queen’s Award.

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