Artwork created by people experiencing anxiety, stress and loneliness in Cwm Taf Morgannwg is on permanent display at a community church.

A beautiful mural and stained glass window-style paintings made by members of Breathing Space in Pontypridd are being exhibited at St Catherine’s Church in the town centre. The artwork can be seen in the church itself as well as in the entrance porch, along with the thoughts of the artists behind the work.

The project was based on the understanding that anyone could contribute at any point, with no one piece of work belonging to an individual artist. Coordinator Nick Clements said: “The murals were a real team effort, with each piece being worked on by several people.

“Sometimes people come along and then we don’t see them again for four or five weeks, but it was vital that they knew they could return whenever they wanted to and pick things up where they left off. The important thing for people is that their art will be on display permanently.”

Launched two years ago as a joint initiative between Taff Ely Primary Care Cluster and Valley and Vale Community Arts, Breathing Space is held every Thursday afternoon in rooms above St Catherine’s. While some members are referred by their GP or other community organisations, anyone is welcome to drop into the free sessions, with no obligation to be there every week.

Initially established as a 12-week project, Breathing Space has been so successful that it’s seen as a long-term solution in improving mental wellbeing and reducing isolation and loneliness in Cwm Taf Morgannwg. Partly funded by the health board and the Arts Council Wales, and with recent funding from the Welsh Government’s Integrated Care Fund through the Cwm Taf Morgannwg Regional Partnership Board, the group has become a lifeline for people managing anxiety, depression and chronic pain, with the ‘open’ nature of sessions enabling members to dip in and out as their health allows.

“Breathing Space is often the one thing in the week that some participants look forward to,” added coordinator Katja Stiller. “Many of the people who come here are vulnerable and have a lot going on in their lives, but as Nick and I run the sessions together, one of us is always available if someone just needs a cup of tea and a chat in a quiet corner.”

The weekly sessions are a mix of mindfulness, arts, crafts, creative writing and friendship. Breathing Space meets every Thursday between 1pm and 3pm in St Catherine’s Church, Gelliwastad Road. For more details, phone Katja on 01656 729246.

Nick and Katja are also running a person-centred creativity training course at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Rhondda campus, Llwynypia, on March 20 and 27 and April 3. To book your place email [email protected] or phone 01656 729246. They also hope to organise an exhibition focusing on creativity and wellbeing later in the year, with the aim of bringing together different community groups in Cwm Taf Morgannwg and neighbouring health boards.

 

Community artwork finds space in church
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