Walking the dog was created as part of Phase one of the Goodmayes Hospital Public Art Project, a partnership between Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure (VRCL) and North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT). We were commissioned to devise a stop frame animation engagement project to facilitate participants exploration and expression of ideas about mental health, to provoke discussion and increase understanding.
The old Victorian ‘Goodmayes Hospital ‘was being redeveloped and the work produced in Walking The Dog was to inspire a reflective piece of public art (phase 2 of the project) to feature in the grounds of the old hospital .
The intention was for six groups to be established and work together over several weeks; a mental health service-user group for each of three life-stages and a general community group for the same life-stages. For example we worked with young service users in the adolescent inpatient unit Brookside and students from Redbridge sixth form college, midlife NELFT mental health service users and similar aged LondonBorough of Redbridge employees. A final screening celebration event at the end of the project brought representatives from all six groups together.
The result is a collection of cross- pollinated selection of digital art work and animations which explore common issues of stigma, isolation and mental health across all participants. The films are edited together in such a way that the groups are intertwined and the work anonymous. There are universal themes of mental health and associated wellbeing mechanisms which provide an interesting leveller throughout the films.
Accendo prepared research of the project and revealed that the specific ways in which “the commissioned artists used animation as a tool for engagement received positive feedback from all stakeholders”
“The DVD has so much potential, everybody’s contributions are pooled together… It’s a positive promotional piece, a sensitive piece. It raises awareness of the different experiences we all contend with and is really engaging. The whole reel in the balance conveys positive messages about what helps people. It does convey what we wanted – perception and understanding of mental illness from different groups. It hits the nail on the head. For NELFT it promotes positive images about mental health and mental healthcare.”
(Strategic Lead – Recovery and Social Inclusion, NELFT)
“Animation was a visual way of showing the message. It works with most people… If it was acting I wouldn’t be interested, animation is a good way to express yourself without ‘art skills’.
(Participant, mid life, general group)
“They had the right mindset that no idea was a bad idea… They were funny. “
(Participant, young people, service-user group)