For the past four years, Manchester Art Gallery has been developing a program of mindfulness activities to help visitors engage more fully with works in their permanent collection and special exhibitions. In encountering familiar works as well as art that is entirely new to them, participants have been able to reflect upon the importance of their own mental health.
Currently on show is And Breathe…, an exhibition of artworks from the gallery's collection that has been co-curated with mental health groups Start in Manchester, Manchester Mind as well as pupils from Charlestown Community Primary School, to explore the relationship between art, positive mental health and wellbeing. The exhibition is designed to encourage people to slow down, connect with art and themselves to enhance their wellbeing.
The exhibition mixes the historic with the contemporary, moving from 19th century seascapes, to more abstract, surreal and modernist works and contemporary photographic pieces by a diverse range of artists including Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon, Catherine Yass and Marcus Coates. The colour scheme, seating, height of art works and interpretation have all been developed to encourage people to spend time in the space and a special audio resource with a range of timed mindful meditations will be available. The exhibition will take a seasonal approach with works by Yves Tanguy, Gwen John and Barbara Hepworth included from November 2018.
This approach is beneficial for everyone, whether you're a patron of the arts - it offers ways to experience art in a completely new way - or you've never entered a gallery or museum before.
And Breathe... can be viewed at Manchester Art Gallery until 15 March 2019.