Annette Duncan runs art classes for people living in loneliness and isolation or with vulnerabilities and disability.
Artist Annette runs three classes per week: on Wednesday’s at Lee Mount Baptist Church, Halifax, from 10.15am-12.15pm; Illingworth fire station community centre is host to Thursday art classes, from 10am-12pm; and Halifax’s Salvation Army is the venue for the Friday, 10am-12pm, art classes. Collectively, there are more than 100 members on the books for the classes and around 20 students per class.
Annette, who initially set the classes up using Calderdale Council funding and worked on a voluntary basis said it is important that the classes are inclusive to all budgets and therefore keeps the cost to a minimum at £3 per session and welcomes all ages and abilities as part of a strategy to promote social cohesion on all levels.
“The classes are more than art - they offer a social network for many students, some of which might not get out of the house other than to come to the class. More outgoing students encourage others who might be struggling with confidence after the loss of a loved one, say,” she said.
Annette, who understands her students after living with depression for many years, meets and socialises with art students outside of the classroom.
“Art is a fantastic medium for helping with depression; I’ve seen so many students come here and change their outlook for the better. Even if you can’t paint, it doesn’t matter; it’s amazing what progress can be made.
“My classes are about bringing people who feel isolated together - there’s been a break down in communities; the grocers, butchers and the pubs have gone and people are struggling to communicate - I’m hoping that the classes will provide a place for people to meet and create artwork,” said Annette.
There are countless reports promoting the benefits of art in lifting our moods. Being creative offers our conscious minds a distraction from circling and depressing thoughts; it gives us a chance to feel in control as we make decisions about the process of creating the artwork as well as providing us with the freedom to discover new methods of creation which gives the artist a sense of achievement and satisfaction.
Students artwork will go on public sale in an exhibition at Lee Mount Baptist Church on November 29, from 10.30am -4pm, as part of a initiative to promote the work of the artists and the painters themselves.
“I hope the public will come along and support our students - there’s some fantastic pieces of art work up for sale,” said Annette.