A busy week

It’s been a busy week……


Norfolk Museums. Drawing, ‘Man Carrying Sticks (Cut-out figure mounted on paper)’ by John Joseph Cotman (1814-1878), monochrome (brown wash and pencil) on paper, undated; 12.1 cm x 9.3 cm. NWHCM : 1970.480.1

Culture Quest. Norwich Castle Museum to meet Ruth Burwood, Adult Learning Officer; Norfolk Museums Service are a likely partner for the art and music appreciation groups. A specialist in hidden histories of disability, Ruth talked about Norwich School watercolourist John Joseph Cotman’s mental ill health, whose cut-out figure above has a dejected air, with his abruptly scissored boots.

An Eye for Colour, John Joseph Cotman 1814-1878 is on at Norwich Castle Museum.  “Throughout his life he suffered from an increasingly unstable temperament, depression and, later, excessive drinking, becoming well known as an ‘eccentric’. Although he was relatively successful as a drawing master, his reputation and business suffered after he spent time in a private asylum in 1837. Eventually his wife left him, his mental health problems worsened and he fell deeper into debt until he was forced to pawn his possession and sell family drawings, dying destitute on 15 March 1878.”

Then to Simon Floyd and Kathy Moore of Share Museums East. We might broker a network – with a view to a project – connecting museum people with a passion for social justice with health and welfare providers and commissioners who understand the therapeutic value of culture? Food for thought. NMAS Textile Curator Ruth Battersby Tooke, who curated a fascinating exhibition at Time and Tide in Yarmouth, Frayed, textiles on the edge, brought ideas about making, marketing, mending and refashioning.

Changing Minds gains momentum. Mark Taylor, Executive Officer of North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group, gets it. He remembers closing St Andrews Hospital, the walled bridge high enough to prevent suicides, the psychiatrist Dr David Rice’s remuneration of garden produce in the payroll books – he died in 1935. The CCG will support our HLF bid. Bonnie Teague and Rianna Broadway, the Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Trust research team, get it too. They are generating an NHS research proposal, consulting the Inspire Service User group.

Voyage With Me now has a web address (content coming..), booked community events at the Norman Centre and Eaton Park, volunteers and a connection with the Sainsbury Institute for Art. We will be travelling far and wide.

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Maybe there will be an Arts and Humanities Research Council bid for a Research Network grant, in partnership with UEA’s Education Department.

And finally, a Groundhog day of Cultural Commissioning. Lots of joining up, influencing etcetc.  We’ve got a crisis in mental health for goodness sake, how much longer can we wait for the golden dawn of harmonious collaboration and co-production? Research feels stuck in the same loop – the ESRC What Works Wellbeing funding pot seems to be £1million for research about research. The Restoration Trust needs £150,000 for 3 years core funding, so a smidgen of that wouldn’t go amiss. We could even share it, for instance with Arts and Minds. This works. We know it. Lets get on with it.


One thought on “A busy week

  1. Thanks for this great blog Laura. It sounds positive that the CCG person gets it. I have been wondering if instead of talking about mental ill health we should focus on the positive more so was interested in the phrase “maintaining positive mental health ” in the Arts and Minds mission statement.

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