The Crypt also works closely with East Street Arts to deliver therapeutic art group sessions designed to help development by exploring their creativity through different media. These sessions enable people to feel empowered, confident and capable and have improved participants’ communication skills and their ability to work collaboratively. The impact of the Arts is massive, and one service user explained how being involved in an art group affected him; “Even though I do find things challenging I keep pushing myself every week and I feel more confident. I can escape for a while and have discovered there are things I can do well. Seeing my work on the wall gives me a real boost – I created that, wow!”
The St George’s Crypt corridors highlight the talent in our midst. We created a large scale Angel mosaic using a miniature painting created by a resident as inspiration. This beautiful piece reflects a bible verse that sums up our ethos: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13 2-3). Participants were fully involved in the whole process and all the mosaic tiles were individually cut. The artwork provides a great opportunity for discussion and focus; the work has come to symbolise hope and love.
The Art group have also tackled more challenging subjects, using photography and photo montage to explore themes of ‘Me, Myself and I’, transformation, light/dark and different emotions. As well as searching within, the art can help visualise future progression; service users have created symbolic installations for our garden – one holds keys to represent finding a home, the other is heart shaped with encouraging messages and memorials to clients who are no longer with us.
Key factors in the Crypt’s work are its provision of food and hospitality; the group have represented these through art by making beautiful wind chimes using cutlery and by creating an impressive wall display of 20 individually designed plates that illustrate the history of the Crypt. They accessed archive material and had to work collaboratively, discuss with each other and work to a brief, focus and compromise where necessary. All these are important life skills for participants who often have multiple and complex needs and who may present with mental health issues or be struggling with addiction.
Our work with the Arts has opened up a world of opportunities to the vulnerable and disadvantaged people who come through our doors. By creating a welcoming environment that values their work and celebrates their diverse talents, we hope to inspire others.