The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival To Be Held In Dumfries and Galloway

The DG Creative Wellbeing Network is helping to coordinate Dumfries and Galloway’s contribution to the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2023. The festival takes place from Wednesday 4 to Sunday 22 October. 


Working in partnership with the Scottish Mental Health Arts FestivalNHS D&G Public Health, DGRI, The Crichton and RBC Film Theatre, DG Creative Wellbeing has worked hard to bring two exciting and important events to audiences in this region.


DG Creative Wellbeing – a two year regional programme of impactful arts activities delivered by Outpost Arts – invites you to visit the ‘Keep Turning the Page’ exhibition of art works from the programme’s Art Journal Project, and to book now for a special screening of ‘Up the Middle Road: Stories of Resilience and Recovery’, after which audience members can enjoy a Q&A with a special guest panel including inspirational speakers who are artists. arts organisers, and mental health professionals from NHS D&G, The Crichton Trust, and Outpost Arts.


OutPost Art’s Creative Wellbeing Network will also be launching its ‘Manifesto for Creative Wellbeing’ – the start of a year of creative and collaborative consultations where the organisation will engage with stakeholders to build a regional ‘agenda for change’ – exploring the creative and culture sector’s potential to positively influence people’s health and wellbeing, and confronting barriers and inequalities.


We spoke to Lucy MacLeod, OutPost Arts’ Creative Health & Wellbeing Director, about the Art Journal Project, and she shared how it all started.

“During lockdown in 2020, Outpost Arts delivered a small pilot ‘Art Journal Project’, funded by the Scottish Government Supporting Communities Fund. The ‘community well-being’ programme consisted of guided workshops, bespoke tuition, and specialist support from professional artist tutors, aimed at adults struggling to manage stress or to ‘make space’ in order to achieve balance and well-being in their lives. The project targeted carers, key workers, people suffering from physical or mental health issues, people struggling with loneliness, isolation, grief, and trauma. The project culminated in an exhibition that showcased curated samples from participant’s art journals and larger scale pieces that graduates had worked towards by developing their skills via art journal workshops and feedback sessions. The exhibition featured as part of an open weekend linked to Spring Fling, and the response was overwhelmingly positive – both from visitors and participants.
To advance and galvanise Outpost Art’s creative wellbeing activity, we embarked upon a six-month research and development project to expand the project’s reach through partnership working, and scope the potential of a regional partnership network to advance creative wellbeing in D&G. With support from NHS Endowment Fund, Holywood Trust, and South of Scotland Enterprise, OPA used the momentum gathered following the delivery of Art Journal Project to widen access points for participation and form a strong and effective creative social-prescribing model; building relationships with partner organisations and creating clearer ‘next steps’ for people wanting to continue their creative well-being journeys.”

As a result of the research and development project, OutPost Arts achieved support from NHS Endowment Fund, Holywood Trust, National Lottery Community Fund, Robertson Trust, and Communities Mental Health & Wellbeing Fund to deliver an enhanced programme of community-based creative wellbeing activities over two years. OutPost Arts have also formed a partnership with NHS Dumfries & Galloway – coordinating an embedded ‘Art in Healthcare’ programme across D&G’s healthcare sites – delivering workshops, public events and enhancements to clinical environments.

This powerful work continues so this year, as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, an exhibition of the works from the Art Journal Project, samples of work from the Art Journal Class of 2023 is being exhibited at DGRI, entitled, “Keep Turning the Page”. The exhibition is open to the public, patients, and staff who can view original works created by the intrepid “Art Journallers”.

‘KEEP TURNING THE PAGE’ – An exhibition of work by participants of ‘Art Journal Project’ 2023

The Art Journal Project is a key strand of the OutPost Arts’ community-based ‘DG Creative Wellbeing’ programme. OutPost Arts has developed the project with D&G Carers Centre, CAHMS, D&G College, Langholm Academy, and partner arts organisation For Enjoyment CIC. A person-centred counsellor also works with the project’s delivery team, ensuring that participants are professionally safeguarded and supported.

45 young people and adults aged from 11 upwards, and from right across D&G, received a curated box of art materials. Over a period of sixteen weeks participants worked with a range of artists and makers via in-person and remote workshops and creative research trips – exploring a wide range of visual arts practises and processes including printmaking, clay, animation, illustration, mark-making, colour theory, zine-making and creative writing. The project’s activities are designed to enhance wellbeing via creative expression, mindful practise, positive distraction, and the development of self-management tools.

The ‘Keep Turning the Page’ exhibition sees these “Art Journallers” showcase their work and share their personal journeys with a wide audience, amplifying their voices and underlining the important relationship between creativity and mental health.

The exhibition is in Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary (Atrium & OPD corridor exhibition space), DGRI, Cargenbridge, Dumfries. Running from 4th – 22nd October 2023 and is free to visit.

Open: If only visiting the exhibition, please attend 8am-6pm. The exhibition is viewable for patients, their visitors, and staff 24/7.

UP THE MIDDLE ROAD: Crichton Stories of Resilience and Recovery – Screening and Panel Discussion

Dr Valentina Bold presents excerpts from Up the Middle Road: Crichton Stories of Resilience and Recovery, made by Mike Bolan. Up the Middle Road documents events held at the former Crichton Royal Asylum in 2022, directed by Valentina as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories. It shares the recorded experiences of former patients and staff of the Crichton Royal, through new songs and stories from Emily Smith, Jamie McClennan, Amanda Edmiston and Kathleen Cronie.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A and a participatory panel discussion exploring how creative retellings of experiences can heal and dispel the stigma around poor mental health.

Following the panel Q&A/discussion, Creative Wellbeing Network’s Coordinator Tabitha Mudaliar will launch OutPost Arts’ ‘Creative Wellbeing Manifesto’ – the beginning of a year of consultation and engagement with stakeholders across D&G – confronting the impact of barriers and inequalities on our mental health, and exploring creative approaches towards forming a collective agenda for change.

Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre, Mill Road, Dumfries DG2 7BE

Wheelchair accessible venue. BSL Interpretation

FREE, (Suggested donation £5 to support local mental health charities.)

Book Tickets here.



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