Tag Archives: anxiety arts festival

The last hurrah!! London Anxiety Festival 2014


Welcome to another of Matthew Mckenzie’s blog post on caring within the mental health field. However this particular blog post is about the London Anxiety Arts Festival 2014, which has been running from June until a few days up from July. I have attended a few of the Anxiety Arts festival events and if you check the sites video section, you ll see one about the Catjun Project.

I thought to do this last blog of the festival as one last review. So far I have attended around 6 of the events starting with the “An evening of wellness: your mind, your health”, which was shown at the Maudsley Learning center and the last event which took place over at the Horse Hospital over by Russell Square. The Horse Hospital is a three tiered arts venue in London incorporating The Chamber Of Pop Culture.

Before I continue my round up of the Anxiety Arts festival, what is this festival all about?

Well Anxiety 2014 is a new London-wide arts festival, curated by the Mental Health Foundation. Taking place at multiple venues throughout June 2014. Although their main programme has now finished, they still have a few events and exhibitions in July and beyond.

You can check up more about them at their site, which is http://www.anxiety2014.org/

So ok, what can I say about the festival due to the 6 events that I have been to? I can most certainly say that I have enjoyed each event due to several reasons.

1. Learning about anxiety.
2. Experiencing the wonders of Art
3. Meeting friendly people
4. Getting involved and spreading the word
5. Being part of something

Let me elaborate on each of the reasons I have listed. I am sure most of you know what anxiety is, we have all experienced anxiety at different levels and as a carer, I have been anxious about many things, I admit we all have different levels of anxiety, but how many of us out there just cope with anxiety and not look into what anxiety is any further?

As you may already know, some people out there experience anxiety at very high levels and one of the ways they can express their experience with anxiety is through art and creativity. I felt that I was almost experiencing as close as it can be on how such artists were experiencing anxiety.

A good example was the work of Liz Atkins over at the Maudsley Learning Centre, which is called “curdled” being a solo exhibition commissioned by The Bethlem Gallery as part of the Anxiety 2014 Arts Festival. This was the first event I went to and experienced. I was lucky enough to chat to Liz Atkins on the 2nd of July at the closing festival and learnt more about her work and why she displayed her art.

You can learn more about Liz’s work here http://www.lizatkin.com/curdled/4584963643

The next event was when I met the lovely Anna Sexton who is the Learning and Communities Curator for the festival.


I met Anna at the “evening of wellness” event over at The Ortus, at the event we got to hear more about the festival and a few other projects.

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The next event I went to was the “Cathja Art Exhibition and film show“, which was about the Friends of Cathja community boat, where we had a  talk from their experts about mental health, creativity and unique community of makers.

Cathja Art Exhibition

Then we where shown a premiere of artist Albert Potrony’s film about this unique creative community based on a Dutch barge between 6.30pm – 8pm.

The premiere of an ethnographic film ‘The Potential Space’ about the Cathja community by artist Albert Potrony, the inaugural performance of Dave Auld’s Shanty written especially for Cathja.

For the 4th event, I turned up for the CoolTan Arts Largactyl Shuffle Midnight Walk, which was a fun, guided midnight walk through South London. We stopped along the way for talks and games on ‘mad’ buildings, night working, surrealism and the anxious city.


Then the 5th event was the screening of Asylum documentary where I met Anna B. Sexton. The documentary made by Peter Robinson entered radical psychiatrist R. D. Laing’s controversial Archway Community – where the inmates literally ran the asylum.  We also heard from Dragon Cafe’s Declan McGill and a few others.


Then the last event, which again featured lots of art was a wrap up of the festival and a celebration and goodbye from those involved, where I remembered the lovely speech from Errol Francis who is the Festival Director.

So you can see, with all these events, I learnt so much about art, creativity and anxiety.

On “Experiencing the wonders of Art“, I can certainly admit I am not so much of an artist myself, but some of the works I have seen have been startling, inspiring, amazing and thought provoking. Each expressing their field to the highest degree and I have been proud to view either painted works, song or movement as an expression.


On “Meeting friendly people“, I am glad to say that Anna Sexton has worked so hard in speaking to people at each event and making them feel welcomed. I have watched how professional she was in her role and how she enjoyed her work in meeting people and explaining things.

Meeting Errol was also a great pleasure, since he was always smiling. Plus also meeting Scarlett Avia who is the Festival Projects Assistant, where she was so busy tweeting and working so hard via social media and other things.


Since I was “Getting involved and spreading the word“, I have used a range of methods to archive this, being video blogs or vlogs as Anna calls them, plus taken many pictures and wrote up reviews. Plus at the events I also talked to many participants. I have enjoyed every moment.

Lastly I am proud that I was part of something for the community, for London. I felt part of a celebration, a festival, almost a movement. Mental Health still is almost an ignored field out there. There is so much stigma against mental health, that we can only be glad to know that the Mental Health Foundation are working hard to break the stigma. The festival is truly needed and I hope they return next year.

Friends of Cathja Event Review

On Wednesday the 18th of June 2014, I was over at the Hermitage Community Moorings based at Wapping for another of the Anxiety Arts Festival 2014 event.


However what is the Anxiety Arts Festival all about?


The Anxiety Arts Festival 2014 is a new London-wide arts festival, curated by the Mental Health Foundation. Taking place at multiple venues throughout June 2014. The festival explores anxiety, looking at its causes, how it affects all of our lives, and how it can act as a creative force.

London-wide arts festival, curated by the Mental Health Foundation and taking place throughout June. You can get more information about them off their site which is


Being a carer of someone suffering mental health difficulties, I had a keen interest in exploring what this event had on offer. I was told by Ann Sexton who is Learning and Communities Curator for the festival that this event will show new film by Albert Potrony which is called “The Potential Space”. The film focuses on the relationships between the people working in this unorthodox space, the work they produce and the setting they are in.

Cathja Art Exhibition

Albert Potrony’s The Potential Space is comissioned by Anxiety 2014 & Friends of Cathja and Funded by Time to Change & the Mental Health Foundation.

There was also drinks, a barbecue, some inspirational folk songs and a chance to learn more about the project and meet friendly people. The sun was out and the waves off the barge were soothing and relaxing. I felt at peace and could go almost anywhere as I explored the Hermitage Community Moorings.


I met the lovely Ann Sexton for the second time in my journeys getting views and going to mental health events around south london and she introduced me to some of the big players off the “Friends of Cathja” project. There was quite a good turn out and people were very friendly.




Again I took some time to check out some of the creations done at the “Friends of Cathja” project and a lot of the work was creative and very imaginative, where the theme relates well to the Anxiety Arts Festival. One thing about the Festival is that both the events I had been to was free and I am sure many others are free as well although some might not be. Remember to check out their site.


After wandering up and down the moorings I went into the exhibition because I was drawn to some music, which set the scene nicely.

After that song, we got to hear 4 songs from a lovely person who I could not catch his name at present, but as a consolation, here are at least 2 of the songs he sung with his recent band.

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After hearing the folk songs, they showed the film “The Potential Space”. I listened how the project looked to involve anyone especially those suffering mental health difficulties a chance and the space to express themselves creatively at the bardge. A place away from the crowded pressures of society and to feel alive again. I enjoyed hearing the views of those involved in the works that they produced, how they got so skilled and left a mark behind for others to marvel at. There was not a hint of suffering on any of the workers as you can see how healing it was for them to express themselves in their work.


I then went off to explore the Cathja Barge myself and talked to a few people as I took some pictures. Learn’t how important that there should be a place in society for people to express themselves without any pressure or profit in such a way, that healing took place and faith and confidence was restored not only in the community, but in themselves.


As the event almost came to an end, I wandered off down the moorings and watched boats sail up and down the river, while the sun began to set and the splash of the waves soothed my mood.

I hope you enjoyed this blog and I encourage anyone who is around London during June 2014 to check out more of the Anxiety Arts Festival 2014.