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Healing power of art helps abuse survivors in Mansfield 

Posted onPosted on 1st Mar

An art exhibition opens in Mansfield Museum in March to showcase the creative culmination of a pioneering two-year project to support survivors of domestic or sexual abuse.

Art Power was set up to give vulnerable women, who had experienced abuse or trauma, an opportunity to explore their creative side in a safe, supportive, and caring environment.

Over two years, the project has delivered 160 workshops and cultural outings, helping more than 50 women.  It drew on the museum’s extensive collections as sources of inspiration for art activities such as clay, felt, print, and stitch and collage.

The Art Power exhibition will feature works produced by the women over the last two years, including the Skip Dog Phoenix sculpture found outside the former Wilkos store. This has been reincarnated using découpage.

There will also be an exhibit called the giant Cup of Conversation. It is a four-foot mug containing two chairs collaged with women’s words from their poetry, connecting with The Statue of Peace,  South Korea. The bronze statue is a memorial erected in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul to commemorate the pain of ‘comfort women’ – victims of sexual slavery by the Japanese military during the second world war.

The Art Power exhibition is open to the public from Saturday 2 March and launches officially with a ceremony on Friday 8 March, to coincide with International Women’s Day. It runs until 26 March.

Coun Stuart Richardson, portfolio holder for Regeneration and Growth at Mansfield District Council, which runs the museum, said: “We are extremely proud of this fantastic scheme which has sought to reach an often isolated but, sadly, a significant demographic of residents in this area.

“It is clear that this project is making a real difference to the lives of extremely vulnerable women by helping to break the long-term vicious circle of low self-esteem and poor mental and physical health caused by trauma and abuse.”

Last year Art Power was shortlisted for a Museums Association award. The project was funded by a £89,680 grant from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, a charity that aims to strengthen bonds in communities in the UK.

A further grant for £99,213 from the Foundation has now been secured to allow the scheme to continue under a different theme and utilising the museum’s significant natural history collection.

Sian Booth, Cultural Services manager for the council, added: “Art Power has been such an amazing Arts on Prescription project with really tangible benefits for those who have been involved. We know that participants always leave feeling better than when they arrived.

“We are thrilled that we are going to be able to continue and expand this project with the launch of Nature Power. This will involve the Art Power team combining artistic skills with a green agenda.

“Part of this will see us taking on a Victorian greenhouse at Carr Bank Park, where we plan to grow a dye garden. We have also made connections with the refugee community in Mansfield, who will be joining the project and maybe growing some plants from home.”

Women on the Art Power scheme were referred by support services including NIDAS (Nottinghamshire Integrated Domestic Abuse Service), NSVSS (Nottinghamshire Sexual Violence Support Services), Women’s Aid and the Jigsaw Support Scheme, a local charity that supports people with mental health issues, as well as through social prescribing.

The district has a higher than average incidence of domestic abuse and is also in the lowest 20% of all local authorities in England for cultural engagement and highest 20% of most deprived districts in the country.

It is the first time the museum has been involved in a scheme of this kind and it is part of an ongoing Mansfield District Council Cultural Services programme of ‘arts on prescription’ at the theatre and museum to help address health and wellbeing challenges in the district.

For more information about Art Power and Nature Power email Tamsin Greaves at [email protected]. Find out more about domestic violence and abuse and how to report it on the council website at