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9 May 2019

Art exhibition ‘Groundings’ brings community together

Students from the University’s School of Fine and Performing Arts spent 11 weeks working with Addaction clients, teaching them drawing and painting techniques, but also how to express their emotions through art. 

The exhibition of the finished pieces is called ‘Groundings’ to emphasise how art can help ground both the artist and the audience. Holly Sexton at Addaction Lincolnshire said: “Everyone goes through periods where they find it difficult to communicate or express themselves. Art is a great outlet for self-expression. This project fits well with Addaction’s work to empower clients and also shows that the community is behind us.”

Reagan Bescoby is one of the Addaction clients who took part. Reagan, aged 34, said: “It’s not only taught me about creating different art from watercolours to abstract, but it’s also helped me open up to people. I thought university students were better than us, but it’s taught me we’re all the same, just different things happened to us in our lives. And the students didn’t come with any preconceived ideas, they took the time to get to know us and we really connected. The art gave other people a glimpse into my thoughts and it taught me that there are people out there who won’t judge me.

“I planned for one of my pieces to be a rotten apple, which is how I felt, but it ended up being me falling into a rotten apple and coming out the other side. Another I wanted to do for my sister, but instead of drawing her, I drew a ballerina which is graceful, determined and beautiful because it’s how I feel about her.

“The student I was working with also taught me how to draw Manga, which I love, and now whenever I feel a bit low I get out some paper and start sketching or writing. She’s also really encouraged me to pursue education. The whole project has pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me to give things a go. I’d like to see more of this kind of thing, it’s been great.”

Six students were competitively selected to work with Addaction’s clients. Many of them are interested in art as a form of therapy and recovery. One of the students, Melissa Evatt, said: “My experience with the service users and collaborating with Addaction has been inspiring. I feel proud and honoured to be a part of the exhibition and a witness to the recovery journeys the service users are going through.”

Conan Lawrence, Deputy Head of School of Fine and Performing Arts, said: “Students have benefitted from the professional experience of working with a national organisation which supports vulnerable people. It boosts the students’ career aspirations and evaluation skills, as well as providing them with insights into project management and the role of the arts in recovery. The professional training enables them to safely negotiate working one-to-one with people, and understand the importance of boundaries, confidentiality and liaising with keyworkers to ensure client’s support needs are met holistically.”