Dwell Time is an award winning, not-for-profit publication reflecting on mental wellbeing, established in 2018 by Alice Bradshaw, Vanessa Haley and Lenny Szrama.
Dwell Time arose from tragic circumstances of the death by suicide of one of our close friends in 2017. He was a passionate advocate of arts being a tool to discuss mental health and bequest us the task of raising awareness of mental health through our work as artists and curators. Art, poetry and sharing personal experiences have the power to communicate, educate and reduce the isolation, marginalisation and stigmatisation of people suffering for mental ill health. A small edition arts publication is not going to change the world and cure mental illness but in talking about this subject through art, poetry and lived experience that affect a huge proportion of population, we hope that it will honour our late friend’s memory and his request.
Mental health in 2019 is still hugely stigmatised and discussed nowhere near as much as it needs to be for a healthy society. Everyone has mental health, just like physical health, whether in a good or bad shape at any particular time. We all experience the ups and downs of life and our ability to cope at any given time, although having many predictable factors, is often indiscriminate. The mental health charity Mind quote that approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and in England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem in any given week. 20.6 in 100 people have suicidal thoughts 6.7 in 100 people have suicide attempts and 7.3 in 100 people self-harm. Almost 300 people died in suicide incidents on Britain’s railways in 2016/17, according to Office of Rail and Road figures, including on the Penistone Line. We are also seeing a recent steep rise in mental ill health due to austerity, with severe and damaging cuts to the NHS, benefits and social services, with improvements to these in the future not looking likely. With chronically underfunded mental health services failing to meet needs, there is a real sense of necessity that we have these conversations and not ignore these problems in the hope that they will go away or that they won’t affect us.
As artists/curators, we are not mental health professionals but we do have first hand experiences of mental health and we use our art as a way to express ourselves, to communicate and to cope. There is a growing body of research to show that art is a powerful tool in coping with mental ill health and it can be a really useful in combination with talking therapies and medication as a holistic and individualised approach. As people with mental ill health, carers and parents of sufferers, neighbours, work colleagues, family, friends and passersby, we can learn from each other and through art how to be more understanding.
After the tragic death of our friend, we saw an article in a local newspaper about a community group called Men’s Shed (now the charity Platform 1) and approached them to see if we could work with them on a project. They introduced us to Rowena at the Penistone Line Partnership and our co-curator Lenny and our idea for the newspaper was born.
An international open call for contributions was launched in March 2018 seeking drawings, illustrations, poetry and personal stories reflecting on mental wellbeing; about real life, raw feelings and survival stories; more about the journeys more than the destinations. Each submission we received was posted on the blog and in January 2019 we made a a selection to be printed in this newspaper.
We also ran a cut-up poetry workshop with Creative Minds Barnsley around the word ‘change’ which we took and read out the Pensitone Line trains for our event Interchange for National Poetry Day 2018. Some of these works feature inside.
The contributions are as varied as the individuals and circumstances that made them. We see common themes of loneliness, darkness, journeys, transformations, hope and coping strategies that resonate between such diverse works and reflect the journeys we often find ourselves on.
There may be contents here that could be triggering for some people and if anyone is affected by any of the issues raised, there is a directory of mental health support services on the main page. Please seek support if you’re struggling to cope. It’s ok to not be ok and ask for help.
Alice Bradshaw, Vanessa Haley and Lenny Szrama, Dwell Time Curators
Dwell Time is an artist-run, not-for-profit organisation which is gratefully funded by: