Lifestyle review: A brush with art to break out of the exclusion zone

Artists Included
Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

Star rating: 4/5

National social and specialist health care charity CIC (Community Integrated Care) organised an arts event during August entitled “Artists Included”, writes Peter Ventre.

It took place in Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral and featured the work of 16 people from across the UK. All the featured artists access CIC services.

Members of the Merseyside art community and social care sector acclaimed the event.

Billy Banner was one of the artists. He started painting when he attended a group for people experiencing problems with alcohol.

His first efforts were of ­matchstick men which he folded away so no one could see them. Two years later his work is on show in a major exhibition. Through art he has become much more confident and his acrylic paintings “have filled the void of the drink”.

Billy’s often dramatic paintings are deeply moving with their drink-related themes and are soon to be exhibited in the Tate in Liverpool.

Other works in the exhibition demonstrate the usefulness of art in supporting people to express difficult and uncomfortable feelings in a therapeutic way.

Artists from the Wolfcraig training project in Stirling also exhibited. This is an educational and occupational training project for referred adults who have severe and enduring mental illness.

Moira Gordon, the project manager, felt that displaying work publicly had hugely increased their confidence. “To be judged on their talent rather than on the fact that they have a mental illness has made a big difference.”

Rona Austin, one of the artists from the project who displayed eerily atmospheric paintings, has said of her work: “To see something you have drawn that people like makes a difference to the whole thingI feel in control if only for a few hours.”

CIC chief executive Phil Edgington said: “Many of the pieces exhibited demonstrate feelings of exclusion that have been experienced by people on a path from crisis to recovery whereas others are a celebration of being part of a caring, inclusive community.”

Peter Ventre is project manager for the Sure Start to Later Life programme in Halton. For information about the project contact

➔ To view some of the exhibited pieces go to

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