Creating and exhibiting art through Artbox gives people with learning disabilities and autism a positive sense of identity as an ‘artist’ that can help promote higher self-esteem and better mental health.
We offer a range of opportunities for artists to build confidence and skills through teaching or co-leading workshops, giving presentations and taking part in promotional activities such as social media videos. This has helped some artists to access new opportunities including paid and voluntary work.
Artbox workshops are educational and offer the chance for artists to learn about new creative techniques and materials in a supportive environment. We encourage the artists to research art history and use laptops/tablets and books to find out about other artists’ work and draw inspiration. Using digital technology also helps build the artists’ digital skills and confidence using the internet and creative software such as Photoshop. Each artist follows their own creative interests which gives them choice and control over an aspect of their lives and is especially important for people with high level care and support needs who may experience a lack of independence.
We also help people with learning disabilities and autism gain a little more financial independence by sharing profits from sales of artwork. Selling their art is a huge source of pride for many of the artists and develops their sense of self-worth.
Our activities are group-based so participants have the opportunity to meet new people and make friends, which can help them feel less lonely and reduce isolation. Contact continues outside of the studio, with many artists staying in touch via social media.
We engage a large number of volunteers in our workshop programme which provides opportunities for people with and without learning disabilities to mix and interact. It also expands the Artbox community - volunteers bring friends and family to the exhibitions, some of whom have not had previous contact with people with learning disabilities. Meeting the artists builds mutual understanding and changes perceptions which impacts positively on people with learning disabilities at a societal level.
Through our exhibitions and trips, we ensure that people with learning disabilities and autism are able to access London’s rich cultural life, from which many feel excluded. By travelling to Artbox trips as a group on public transport, artists become familiar with new routes and venues. Several artists have since ventured to galleries on their own, which is a fantastic achievement.