70 Stories: Art Sustains

Shad by Anthony Fisher

Tony Fisher is known as a determined, creative individual, (which we can second), who works across many art-forms; art, photography, poetry, film and socially engaged practice.

Throughout his career, Tony has had photographs printed in many photographic publications, book illustrations and magazines: The English Countryside Book (Daily Telegraph)The Guardian, Metro and Country Life. He has also produced film works, including ‘A Clearing in the Woods’ for Channel 4 TV and was a music photographer for Fairport Convention and Richard Thompson CDs/booklet to name a few.  His work has national and international reach and has been exhibited in art galleries, museums, art trails and the commercial sector. 

Despair by Anthony Fisher

In 1995, Tony experienced a series of traumas and loss which led to an intensive period of depression, anxiety and PTSD. He speaks of how through this time, his art sustained him, enabling him to cope, express himself and find ways to rebuild his life.

Click here to view a presentation created by Tony for a Creative Health event in 2018, which shares his story in his own style, through his own words and art. He gives special thanks to Elizabeth Finn Care and Turn2us for the invaluable financial and moral support over the last 10 years to help rebuild his life and pursue his ambitions.

Tony at City Arts, Nottingham

” In the last 12 years, gradually I have become more engaged and have wanted to give something back.”

Through these experiences Tony has become a passionate advocate for disability, mental health and the arts, travelling nationally and internationally to collaborate with organisations, make work and raise awareness.  He has been involved in many different projects, from working with the British Red Cross on a dementia project, to advising Rethink Mental Illness and developing art walks with his local Mind charity to engage people in physical activity, alongside the creative, in the great outdoors.

Tony has recently secured an Arts Council National Lottery Project grant to fund his next project/exhibition entitled ‘Well-Being’ which will explore and research loneliness, isolation and well-being; something he has battled with personally for over 40 years. The project will take Tony on a journey of reflection and self-discovery and introduce him to others who suffer loneliness and isolation too. This project will culminate in a year’s touring exhibition/talks in late 2019/2021 at Artcore, Quad, Air Arts Royal Derby Hospital (Derby), Erewash Museum, Ilkeston (Derbyshire), City Arts, Broadway (Nottingham), and The Arthouse (Wakefield).

This new project will challenge Tony, not only with the subject matter but also exploring a new methodology to his photography, where the sitter/object has been either staged, posed or positioned.

“ I want to do specific research on the theme of loneliness, isolation and well-being. I am proposing to work with anyone suffering from isolation and I will produce an image to reflect this. The photograph will capture the issues and essences of what is loneliness but will also celebrate the life of the individuals.”

His proposal is to work with anyone who experiences isolation and will produce photographic images to reflect this. Creating either a portrait and/or an object of great significance to the individual to suggest their isolation. To accompany these photographs will be an audio piece recorded including voices and/or abstract sound interrogating isolation. Tony will also be experimenting with social media so his work is more accessible and will be working with City Arts (Nottingham).

He hopes that this exhibition will be used to help highlight isolation and encourage debate.

Further information about the project and/or if you would like to take part please contact Tony directly at photony@gmail.com or through his website.

Tony’s favourite picture with his daughter Amy, 2017

A closing thought…

When chatting with Tony about his practice and his thoughts on the arts as a tool for health, wellbeing and social change, he presented a resounding reminder of the importance of remaining open, curious and being ready to work with others, in both the processes of being an artist and of staying well.

“ I believe in trying to get different people speaking to each other. We are all in isolation, we all need to speak to each other, learn from each other and collaborate- that’s really important to me. The art sometimes comes out from these conversations. I believe in an organic approach, an holistic approach where things can be open, and we can question things…”

Upcoming Exhibitions

Coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 and as part of the Derby’s Little Ed Fringe Festival, Tony’s next photographic exhibition, Set : Adrift is open to the public from the 9th-24th of May, 10-2pm at No. 1, The Strand Arcade, Derby, DE1 1BQ.

To find out more about Anthony’s work and exhibitions, please visit his website, Anthony Fisher Photography

70 Stories for 70 Years

These stories represent personal experiences of the impact of creativity, culture and the arts on health and wellbeing. They have been collected by the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance (CHWA) to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the NHS in 2018.

If you have a story you would like to share, please do get in contact at info@culturehealthandwellbeing.org.uk.

We are publishing these stories as a collection on the new CHWA website, and will be promoting them using social media from the end of 2018 leading up to the first CHWA Annual Conference in March 2019.


70 Stories: My Natural Self


Creativity Has Helped Me

A poem by Lynne Rawlings with an introduction from Corina Harrison, WEA and Arts, etc

Lynne Rawlings has been a student at Arts, etc for several years and she has always blown me away with her talent, sheer joy and absolute strength. She has many health issues including Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair at all times. She always comes to art classes, drama and fitness classes but in this case she has chosen to share her poetry.  Lynne writes at least one poem a day and will always write about whatever subject we are covering. Creativity does something incredibly wonderful for her and all those around her.

Creativity Has Helped Me

Hello my name’s Lynne Rawlings,

You haven’t heard of me,

I have a very happy life,

Its busy as can be.

Okay I’m in a wheelchair,

It’s just how I get around,

But I’ve lovely friends and hobbies,

To keep me safe and sound.


I write these crazy poems,

That hopefully make folk smile,

Plus I try my hand at painting,

And have done for a while.

Its ever so enjoyable,

I’d do it every day,

And its so much fun attending,

The WEA!


My efforts are well dodgy,

But amazing things we do,

We’ve painted with a spray can,

And used black charcoal too.

Once we did Jackson Pollock,

So friends put paint on my wheels,

You really can’t imagine,

How wonderful this feels!


I just cracked my lovely speed up,

And drove across the paper,

We had a right old giggle,

For it was a funny caper!

I  suppose what I am saying,

Is my friends are really ace,

Its thanks to all their efforts,

I’ve got a smiling face.


Everybody is included ,

And treated just the same,

So not to sing their praises,

Would be a dreadful shame.

I love them all to pieces,

I’m no longer on the shelf,

Creativity has helped me,

To be my natural self!


70 Stories for 70 Years

These stories represent personal experiences of the impact of creativity, culture and the arts on health and wellbeing. They have been collected by the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance (CHWA) to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the NHS in 2018.

If you have a story you would like to share, please do get in contact at info@culturehealthandwellbeing.org.uk.

We are publishing these stories as a collection on the new CHWA website, and will be promoting them using social media from the end of 2018 leading up to the first CHWA Annual Conference in March 2019.

Day in the Life: Angela Awuah

“I saw no platform for young people with direct and indirect experience for mental illness, so I created one.”

EBP - Angela Awuah

What have you been doing today?

Today, I’ve been preparing for my pilot programme starting next month. It is a 6-week programme for 12 young carers in the Borough of Lambeth, which includes cognitive behavioural therapy, life coaching, nutritional education and creative art workshops. I’ve had to make a few phone calls, had a meeting and sent emails to potential collaborators.

Is that a typical day for you?

A typical day for me would be waking up between 6:30 and 6:45 to pray and read my bible, and then I check my phone for any emails and my social media. Then I have a shower, brush my teeth and have breakfast. I then send a few emails and create some content for social media. My day normally consists of working on my social enterprise, so at the moment I’m doing a lot of legal paperwork and finding ways of building my Mental Health The Arts programme, as well as preparing for The Arts Programme, which I’m piloting next month.

When did you start working with culture, health and wellbeing, and how?

I started working in culture, health and wellbeing officially in 2016 when I launched my now social enterprise Mental Health The Arts. I have been a carer for almost 10 years now and found dance was a way of expressing some of my darkest emotions. Being a carer for a family member with paranoid schizophrenia, I quickly realised that there is not enough support given to carers in university. I became the Nearest Relative and had to make key decisions for the family member I was caring for. So since I had used dance to help me communicate my feelings and create coping mechanisms, I thought that there were many other young people who have gifts and talents but do not know how to cultivate creative coping mechanisms. So I initially created a platform through doing events, workshops, being a community partner for the National Citizen Service, working with 15-17 year olds, and doing speaking engagements. I saw no platform for young people with direct and indirect experience for mental illness, so I created one.

What was the last project you came across that inspired you?

Mmm the last project that inspired me was Challenge 59, which is a dance project for children run by Joanna Rhodes. I’m honestly so inspired by Joanna’s work and the impact she has on the children she works with. She also helps the children create films and hosts a premiere for them. I’ve loved dance since I was a young girl, so seeing Joanna use dance to improve children’s wellbeing is phenomenal.

Day in the Life: Tim Osborn

What have you been doing today?

Started my day finishing paperwork and updating sound clips for a group we ran yesterday afternoon – Melodies for Mums. It’s a research based 10-week singing group (based in London Borough of Southwark) aimed at women primarily with PND, stress, anxiety. The results from the research show that group singing can be really beneficial for this group. We run 2 groups of up to 14 participants. I then updated attendance records for Trust Harmonix – the community staff choir that Breathe AHR delivers into Guys & St Thomas’ NHS Trust. We meet every Monday evening and have around 30 singers. We are preparing for a performance at the end of March.

Then went to Guy’s hospital to support our amazing team of volunteers who were organising our weekly public lunchtime performance programme and spent time chatting with a couple of nurses, telling them about the performing programme we have, chatted to a coup[le of colleagues and delightful but world weary 92 year old lady who has been in hospital for over 3 months and had been brought along to the concert by an HCA and then (randomly) I sorted a problem with a broken store room door. Soup happened at some point during this time!

A team meeting followed and then came back to our office. Made a swift call to the lunchtime performer (a lovely jazz singer who features regularly in our programme) to check she was okay as one of the patients had briefly interrupted the end of her performance and although she is experienced with these type of  minor incidents, it’s always good to check in with artists when they crop up.

Finished the day with emails.

Is that a typical day for you?

Yes, or variations of.

When did you start working with culture, health and wellbeing, and how?

I’ve been with Breathe Arts Health Research for about 6 years, having moved from the NHS (the same Trust we deliver into in fact) and it’s great to be able use my experience from the inside to help shape what we do now. A good friend who had worked as an OT on the Breathe Magic programme many years ago told me they were recruiting.

What was the last project you came across that inspired you?

So many – there are some great programmes and inspiring pieces out there. Something that resonated with me personally is Vamos Theatre’s piece Finding Joy – a brilliantly executed masked performance that portrays the experience of dementia. It can be an amazing learning experience from so many perspectives.

Responses to ACE strategic framework published

Responses to Arts Council England’s strategic proposals for 2020-2030 have been published by the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance, the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance, and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing.

A number of the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance’s partners are also signatories on its response.

Overall the responses are supportive of ACE’s move towards more inclusive, socially-engaged practice across the cultural sector, and suggest areas where the framework could move more effectively towards these goals.


Please find the full responses linked below:

APPG submission to ACE consultation

CHWA final response to ACE Strategy Consultation

National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance

Arts Council England Strategic Framework documents:

The strategic framework documents can be found here: ACE Strategy Consultation Framework_Autumn2018 Consultation and here: Shaping the next ten years_consultation_online_oct2018.


Update on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing for the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance – January 2019

Alex Coulter, Director of Arts & Health South West, continues to provide the secretariat and project management for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPG), on behalf of the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance.

Since the publication of the Creative Health report in July 2017, the APPG has pursued strategies to encourage the implementation of the ten recommendations, including six dissemination events around the country, in partnership with the regional leads for the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance. A further two events are being planned for April and May in the east and south east regions.

The APPG has held a further series of round tables in parliament to discuss the recommendations. You can find out more about the APPG’s activity during 2017/18 in the annual report: http://bit.ly/APPGAHWannualreport

The annual report includes information on the working group who continue to support the APPG in its ongoing work on Recommendation 1, for a national strategic centre. The King’s Fund conducted a feasibility study and consulted with a large number of stakeholders around the country.

Recommendation 2

The APPG was very pleased that the Secretary of State for Health quoted the Creative Health report’s key messages in his speech at the King’s Fund Social Prescribing conference in November: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-power-of-the-arts-and-social-…. Jeremy Wright spoke about health and wellbeing in his recent speech in Coventry: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/jeremy-wrights-value-of-culture-s… and said: “My department is working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, and NHS England, to support greater use of social prescribing, in particular to address loneliness and help people with their mental health.”

Recommendations 3 & 4

A number of NHS trusts, Local Authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups have identified arts and health champions. The APPG is hosting a meeting with them to discuss network support. The APPG contributed to an event organised by NHS Providers and promoted the idea of champions with the trusts represented there.

Recent round tables

The APPG held a round table on Everyday Creativity with Dr Daisy Fancourt and BBC Get Creative, Voluntary Arts and 64 Million Artists. We also heard from NHS Digital and received a submission from Public Health England about the process for public health campaigns.

In the Health Secretary’s speech he spoke about the potential to grow the role of libraries in social prescribing, as well as the importance of the arts and mental health and of music to support people with dementia. The APPG’s spring programme responds to these priority areas and there was a round table on Libraries and Health on the 21st January, with contributions from CILIP, Libraries Connected, ACE lead for Libraries, Public Health England and the Care Quality Commission amongst others. Future round tables are planned on young people’s mental health and the arts, and on music and dementia.

A Day in the Life: Hayley Youell

What have you been doing today?

Today was a day of all sorts; as a freelancer, I am often juggling lots of different tasks. I responded to emails regards for planning for all projects next year, proof-read and sent off a funding application, did year end finances for the charity I co-founded and then headed out to the local bus station with the Street Piano and the Uplift Choir and We Can Survive Singers for a festive sing-along. We then returned for a gathering at Creative Recovery HQ, before closing up shop for the year.


Is that a typical day for you?

Every day is a mix of roles, but perhaps not every as jam-packed.


When did you start working with culture, health and wellbeing, and how?

I started working within the field back in 2008, but it has always been central to thinking as a creative, linking with my innate curiosity about how the arts and culture, particularly music and singing, can transform peoples’ health and lives. This curiosity became more pronounced when I experienced my own struggle with mental health issues during my final year at University and early 20s. One day whilst serving coffee and enthusing to a customer about my experiences of the power of singing and findings from my own self-directed research, I caught the ear of a local mental health commissioner. From this encounter, I was invited to lead a workshop for World Mental Health Day in Barnsley, and as they say, the rest is history.


What was the last project you came across that inspired you?

Watching musician, Amy Rose Atkinson (of Access the Arts) working with members from the Barnsley Deaf Forum for the ‘This is My Home’, heritage lottery funded Hear My Voice project [at Barnsley Museums]. Many participants experienced their first exposure to music and witnessed a performance of a song for the first time, through vibrations and Amy’s unique performance style blending BSL and creative expression. They then went on to create their own artworks, using mediums they had previously thought they couldn’t, wouldn’t be able to access.