Walk in the Park

A year long artist’s residency working with people with long-term mental health

Highland Print Studio received funding from Creative Scotland, Highland Council and Scottish Natural Heritage to provide a year-long residency for an artist to work with people disabled by long-term mental health.

The artist appointed was Conall Cary. Conall is originally from Oregon, USA, but was working in Galway, Ireland, when he took up the post. The residency consisted of time teaching and time for the artist to develop a body of artwork.

The Studio worked with Inverness Community Mental Health Team, who set up a referral system for participants to the project. The Team also provided mental health first aid training for HPS staff and a representative from the team was also on the interview panel for the post.

The project also had an environmental theme and included a programme of monthly field trips to localities in and within travelling distance of Inverness. The aim of the field trips was to enable participants to benefit from the positive impact on mental wellbeing of spending time outdoors. Engaging people with their natural environment also helped combat the introspection that invariably goes hand in hand with mental illness. The field trips were led by Highland Council Countryside Rangers and were used as a source of inspiration for creating artwork, with participants sketching and taking photographs, which they then brought back to the Studio to work up as etchings, screenprints and linocuts.

Participants came to the Studio every week over the course of the year, initially learning every technique and then choosing a specialism for the 2nd half of the year. The project culminated in an exhibition of participants’ work at Scottish Natural Heritage’s Great Glen House headquarters.

Due to the success of the project, the Studio was invited to give a presentation on the work at Scottish Natural Heritage’s conference on Mental Wellbeing and features on their website as a case study of good practice. The Studio would like to thank everyone who contributed to the project, including the funders, Creative Scotland, Highland Council and Scottish Natural Heritage, the Inverness Community Mental Health Team and the Highland Council Countryside Ranger Service.