Peter Shaw: Helping Create The Labyrinths of Sheffield

Curious to find out how creativity can interact with our mental wellbeing, Peter went along to a recent event co-hosted by Sheffield Flourish. At the event participants were invited to get involved with creative workshops. Their creations will become part of the upcoming The Labyrinths of Sheffield - a series of three mindful labyrinths set up in Sheffield as part of Festival of the Mind.

Going in to the Labyrinth session, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had read about the session with interest as it sounded like a fun and interesting way to meet new people and get creative. I’m not a very creative person usually and I’ve never been someone who enjoys arts and crafts even from a young age, but recently I have explored different ways of improving my mental health, beyond medication and therapy.

This has included me taking more of an interest in reading, listening to podcasts and music to help my wellbeing in terms of helping me feel better when I’m anxious. However, this was my first time properly getting involved in arts and crafts for my wellbeing, and having not been a fan of art at school, I was nervous prior to attending.

As well as attending the session, I had also just begun my first ever paid work. This had been quite a quick process and naturally, having only completed two days, I was anxious and nervy about starting. Which meant that this session came at both a good and bad time for me, as it allowed me to take a break away from work on only my 2nd full day and focus on my wellbeing but it also added to the extra anxiety I was feeling around the day.

It was a very nice, sunny day and the session was being held in Weston Park Bandstand, so I had a lovely walk up to the Park, which helped me feel at ease. I met Jo, from Sheffield Flourish, and we chatted about the session and the new internship that I just started. As I have only recently begun writing for Flourish myself as well, it was nice to catch up with her.

The other two women, leading the session, introduced themselves and talked about what the session would involve. The first thing we would do, which put me straight at ease, was mindfulness. I must admit, I’m not the greatest person at keeping up with doing mindfulness and meditation regularly but I always find them to be very good ways of unwinding.

After this nice, relaxing start, we were introduced to the arts and crafts that we would be doing, and what it was being done for. There were two projects; one involved getting cuttings from leaves to go on the bunting hanging around the labyrinth archway and the other involved putting willow branches on a different archway. Talking with the other people there, I found it quite comfortable to socialise, which is not something I have ever been capable of. Perhaps the mindful build-up had put me at ease as well, with the organisers assuring us there were no wrong ways to do things.

Whatever it was, I felt ok talking to people I’d never met, and more than that it was extremely interesting to hear about how people had heard of the session, what they were expecting and generally talk about mental health. It wasn’t a case of introduce yourself and talk about your history of mental illness; rather this was a relaxing way to meet like-minded people and chat about the session and the organisation.

Overall, I found the session very enjoyable. I learned a new skill in being able to do prints of leaves, contributed to a wider project running in Sheffield around mental health and mental illness, met lots of amazing people and got away from the hustle and bustle of work for a couple of hours! This I would count as a success, and it got me thinking a lot about having nature, and mindful activities to break up the long weeks and how this is important for my mental health. I’ve always found walking, being in nature and the greenery of Sheffield great for my anxiety and depression, and it’s likely now I’m starting a regular, office-based job that I’ll need outlets like this to help me.

So for all of that I’m very grateful I went and very grateful to all the organisers. I can’t wait to see the full labyrinth as part of the ‘Festival of the Mind‘ project running from the 20th to the 30th September in Sheffield.

The Labyrinth we co-produced is located in Weston Park Sat 22 – Sun 30 Sept, 11am-3pm.  A talk about the journey involved in producing three walking labyrinths can be heard at The Spiegeltent, Barker’s Pool Tue 25 Sept, 5pm – 6pm. The Labyrinths of Sheffield is a partnership of academics, creative partners and community groups including Sheffield Flourish.

1 Comment

  • Rob Barnett

    Lovely article Peter. It’s interesting to read how the Weston Park labyrinth came together. I enjoyed seeing and walking it!

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