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PICTURES: Bexley exhibition encourages mental health awareness

PUBLISHED: 10:45 08 October 2013 | UPDATED: 10:45 08 October 2013

Lucy Pike, 14 months, enjoys the exhibition

Lucy Pike, 14 months, enjoys the exhibition

Archant

The human psyche is being examined in a completely new way with an unconventional art exhibition in Bexley.

All the paintings, drawings and sculptures on display at Hall Place have been created by people with mental illnesses.

The work by members of Centrepieces – an art group based at the Crayford Centre – aims to showcase the group’s talent as well as break down mental illness myths.

Thursday coincides with World Mental Health Day, which aims to raise awareness and combat stigma in society.

Alan Eaton, 53, has been a member of Centrepieces for seven years after he was referred to the Crayford Centre as part of treatment for bipolar disorder.

It inspired him to take up painting for the first time since school and he has gone on to become a member of Centrepieces’ steering group.

For Alan, art has benefits that go far beyond medication and conventional treatment.

“Some people find it is a way of expressing themselves – one of the most famous examples of that is The Scream by Edvard Munch,” he said.

“It also allows the subconscious to come out. Sometimes you can tell something about a person just by looking at their art.

“It’s very cathartic and art therapy can help you understand yourself, relax, forget what’s going on and feel good about yourself.”

Alan estimated one in four people have a mental illness but said many suffer in silence because of the stigma.

He added: “Everyone seems to think someone with mental health issues is like a character out of Psycho or has a split personality, but the majority of people at the Crayford Centre are calm, kind, caring people.”

The centre, in London Road, helps people recover and manage disorders after intensive treatment.

Courses, health and fitness classes, volunteering and activities are offered so they can access employment, education and everyday life many of us take for granted.

Centrepieces was set up in 1999 by a group of artists recovering from mental health problems.

It has now grown to have more than 50 active members who meet weekly to create work together or paint, draw and sculpt at home.

Some works will be on sale at the exhibition and all profit goes back to Centrepieces, with a cut taken by the artists.

The exhibition is free to visit in the stables at Hall Place, Bourne Road, Bexley, until October 27. Visit bexleyheritagetrust.org.uk/hallplace for information.

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