10th Dec, 2016

Scratch the Surface arts festival hopes to promote mental health awareness

Shaun Reynolds 16th Mar, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A TWO-WEEK arts festival that provokes conversation about mental health started in Coventry this week, and has the backing of internationally renowned artists.

Scratch the Surface has been commissioned by the Pod’s Collective, an artists’ collective with a majority membership of people with enduring mental ill health.

The Pod is a mental health resource and creative hub managed by Coventry City Council.

As well as supporting individuals, the Pod helps navigate people towards professional artists and arts organisations across Coventry.

Starting on Monday (March 14) the festival will run until next Saturday (March 26) and will include fine art, music, literature and film across the city.

The festival was opened by renowned artist Stuart Semple, who has developed an affinity for the city and the work Coventry undertakes with people suffering from severe and enduring mental ill health.

Semple’s work is much sought-after and his pieces are owned by the likes of Noel Gallagher and Debbie Harry.

The festival will also see the opening of ‘Leaving by the Window’ – an exhibition at the pod combining paintings by Bryan Charnley.

James Charnley, Bryan’s twin brother, will appear to officially launch the festival while a short film about Bryan and his work will be screened during the fortnight.

Laura McMillan, who is co-ordinating Coventry’s bid to become UK City of Culture in 2021, said: “We visited the Pod and it’s an amazing place that is doing amazing work around mental health and the arts.

“Scratch the Surface is a fantastic idea and is another first for the city.

“The whole idea that art, culture and creativity moves people in such a way that it can stimulate positive change in a city is very much in-keeping with our City of Culture bid.”