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Ibrahim Altaweel

May 26, 2023  .  4 min read  .  660

Arts&Crafts for Mental Health Workshop

Project Highlight

On the second Sunday in April, our volunteers organized a workshop with Andrey Stanislavsky as the host. This workshop was about mental health, with the title “what the blot?”, a meditative experience that allows you to compose and paint extraordinary ink spots to create dazzling worlds, hidden objects, and whatever your imagination comes up with.

1- Give us a general idea about you and your project

The main idea of the project is to give people a chance to try different cool and simple art techniques. These can be used for stress relief, meditation, creating insightful metaphors for important life issues, and last but not least, just to relax and have fun with good company.

My background is mainly in arts and teaching. I studied pedagogy, linguistics and journalism, worked in art and photography magazines and love teaching art, design and photography to children and adults.

I like conceptual art (when it's all about the meaning) and create artworks using a variety of techniques such as drawing, photography, installations, sound, performance and video art.

Another big interest of mine is exploring tools for mental health. I enjoy psychology books, lectures and courses. Art often helps me to relax, analyse problems and overcome difficulties.

I believe that art is a powerful tool that can help us cope with life's challenges. By expressing ourselves through art, we can release our emotions, reduce stress and understand ourselves more deeply.

So eventually I decided to combine art, the principles of nonviolent communication, several self-help techniques and my teaching experience to try and offer people an enjoyable, practical, and easy way to live happier and not worry too much.

2- You have some experience with hosting workshops in Istanbul&I, what do you think about the idea of the Istanbul&I’s workshops and events?

Istanbul&I organises various events that are attended by people of very different tastes and backgrounds. The range of possibilities is astounding: cultural nights, psychological classes, arts and crafts workshops, sports,dance events, city-cleaning picnics — and that's just the beginning of the list.

I think all of this is extremely valuable, not only because Istanbul&I allows people to engage in interesting activities, but also because there is a very friendly and caring atmosphere. I think this in itself can be a healing and supportive experience.

3- What are your plans for this project?

Oh, lots of plans! I guess we could try making collages, music album covers, assembling compositions from different smells, drawing space,imaginary worlds, painting huge murals on walls, working with paper and glue, learning some cool photographic techniques, making an endless chain reaction machine, creating cartoons and comics andhat's for starters.

More broadly, my goal is to continue to develop the project using different techniques and psychological approaches, and to learn more ways to use art to promote mental wellbeing. I'm also thinking of offering online art sessions to reach a wider audience, and inviting psychologists and other artists to contribute to the project.

4- Do you have any advice for people who are curious about art for mental health in general? What’s a good starting point to see if it’s for them?

If you're wondering how to use art to improve mental health, you might want to start with something simple, like making ink blots — there's a step-by-step video on my instagram (https://www.instagram.com/andrey_stanislavsky/), or a paper collage. By the way, in the near future we are planning a collage workshop with a wonderful Istanbul-based artist Deniz Aybar, here is his Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/deniz.aybar.collage.art).

Such activities do not require elaborate skills, but provide a great opportunity for self-expression and bring immediate results. They also help you achieve a meditation-like state and you can also gain some mindfulness skills.

Would you like to try it now? Let's make a quick collage! Just grab some scissors, a glue stick, a couple of magazines and a sheet of paper. Now try cutting out any pictures and words you like from the magazine pages, then arrange them in some fun way on the paper, glue everything down, and — voila! — you've made your first collage!

Try to feel like a child while creating it — let yourself go, just enjoy the process. Afterwards, have a minute of awareness — observe how you feel and perhaps write down your thoughts as they arise. This can be quite an eye-opening experience.

At the end, art is the best way to deal with our mental health .