Prepare to be Inspired!

A Thousand Paper Cranes

Session 6

Rozi and Milena arrive fully prepared for all sorts of activities – batik, plasticene modelling, animation…

Soon the wax is melting and even though we are only a small group this week, we are ready for action.

A beautiful, collaged mood board has been created since our last session. It is full of lovely colours, from crimson to burgundy, all shades of red, the colours of phoenix feathers.

Meanwhile Milena has discovered that her big bag of plasticene that she brought in has all sorts of other things mixed in – googly eyes, little wooden sticks, glittery leaves and soft pompoms, all mixed up! So, while we are waiting for the wax to melt, she is sorting it out, to the tunes of a brilliant Peruvian CD that Rozi has bought with her. Having all that space around, Milena’s legs start to move by themselves to the tunes of the high Andes.

The wax is ready, the cotton fabric is cut. With brushes poised at the edge of the pot, trying not to drip in unintended places, we start to make patterns on the crisp white cotton. There is a rather pleasant smell of wax in the room. Wherever we make a mark it will stay white, after the dying, and next time we can add another layer of colour. The wax on the white cotton has a beautiful, translucent quality and it takes some courage to start applying the colours.

The Batik ink colours are very bright, primary colours – red, blue, yellow. Usually colour is applied separately, but it is difficult for all of us to resist the magic of mixing, so, soon we’ve got myriads of bright colours – all shades of purple, green, turquise and different shades of blue.

Some experimenting with the modelling pipe cleaners provides inventive new tools for applying the wax.

Bernadette is painting with gusto, but what is particularly nice about this activity is that somehow it makes us all talk to each other more. So we hear that it’s challenging, as it’s difficult to control the wax with the brush, while others find it very relaxing to apply the wax, even if it doesn’t end up where it was intended. While Milena just enjoys the activity, the smell, the colours and any patterns that happen to appear. She asks Rozi whether the second layer of colour could be put on straight away, but the answer is no, not until the ink is dry as it would cool the wax before it has chance to soak into the fabric. We will have to wait until next week to see what happens.

Having delivered the plasticene, it’s time to pack up! We’ve only got 4 more weeks to finish the sculpture, the big canvas…. will we do it? Watch this space…

Oh, nearly forgot, some surreal pieces have appeared in the room! There are latex gloves full of googly eyes and multicoloured sticks floating around. What is all this about? Maybe this is the beginning of something different all together….



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A Thousand Paper Cranes

Artlink is nearing completion of this three-year project at The Yorkshire Centre For Eating Disorders, funded by Comic Relief’s Young People and Mental Health Fund.  This unique opportunity has allowed us to embed creative discovery into individual recovery programmes alongside the work of the clinical staff on the unit. 

Over the three years, service users have explored a vast range of media including animation, textiles, creative writing, sculpture and photography to name but a few.  They have also been involved with more abstract explorations such as light projection and sound production, this involved totally changing the space the group work in and asking participants to move away from the tables and to work on the floor across large sheets of paper.  

We have also produced a large number of canvases which are now on display on the ward.  This reflects the work produced over the years and has helped to transform the space from a sterile environment into a place which is more vibrant, colourful and condusive to recovery.  Alongside these a selection of postcards have also been produced through the years, enabling the work to be shared with audiences outside of the immediate environment.

We are currently in the process of looking at how we can extend this work further, building on the skills and knowledge gathered over the three years.

The impact of this work can be seen through this comment from the Senior Occupational Therapist:

“Service users have frequently expressed how therapeutically beneficial it is that they are able to engage in an experience that does not involve their eating disorder.  This effectively means that, for some people, their eating disordered thoughts are reduced for the period of time that they have engaged in the Artlink sessions. This is a huge achievement as for many of our service users the only respite they have from their eating disordered thoughts is the period they are asleep”.

You can download the book here or view online at on our publications page.


Posted on | Categories: Categories 2014