Creativity and a feeling of community are central to Medley’s goals, so it’s no wonder that recently hearing of a project called Creative Communities: New Perspectives sparked my imagination. I decided to learn more about one of the lead organizations, Look Again.
Mindful photography is the focus of Look Again’s work and growing impact. Founded back in 2012, the organization has recently seen demand surge, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. Look Again’s mindful photography courses and programmes draw together photography, connecting with nature, and mindfulness, to boost wellbeing. And moving online during the pandemic has opened up new opportunities. While workshops planned for venues like the Slimbridge WWT nature reserve have been suspended, online courses have enabled Look Again to widen its reach, with people taking part in other countries.
The next of Look Again’s 4 week online courses, Reframe Your Now, starts next week, on 10 September. These courses provide an introduction to mindful photography, an opportunity to explore and to experience how photography can improve resilience, motivation and focus. Look Again says they are for individuals and also for practitioners, for example people working in wellbeing or mindfulness.
What stands out again and again in my own art for wellbeing work through Medley is the way art helps people by absorbing and focusing their minds – and clearly this is integral to Look Again’s mindful photography as well. It’s a thread running through quotes and testimonials from their participants. This also reminded me of my own sense of the importance of observation, of looking, noticing, really seeing what is there. It’s all too easy to walk on by, to ignore, not to be open to what we see. If I remember to observe, I get far more from life. For me, painting and drawing are ways to interact with nature, motivating me in turn to look and see. For many people, photography can create that interaction.
So what about the project which caught my eye, “Creative Communities: New Perspectives”? This was a partnership programme in Gloucester, sharing arts for wellbeing with people particularly impacted by the pandemic, from family carers to NHS staff. Diverse organizations came together, like Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester Carers Hub and Gloucester Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers. The programme focused on mindful photography (led by Look Again) and on drama. Photographs by participants were on display in the Cathedral over the summer, and will soon feature in an exhibition in Gloucester’s Royal Hospital. Participants have share ddifferent aspects of the programme’s positive impct on them, building trust and confidence, forming community and boosting wellbeing through lockdown.
There are other facets to Look Again’s work, like a Wellbeing In The Workplace programme and schools work. They also run interactive talks and take photography commissions. Look Again’s model and impact have roots in founder Ruth Davey’s background working in community, business & international development, but also in her own experience of drawing on mindfulness and photography to recover from anxiety and depression.
You might like to learn more about Look Again’s work, get involved and maybe sign up for a Reframe Your Now course, by going to www.look-again.org
It would be great if you’d like to share any thoughts on mindfulness and photography – and any images! – in Medley’s Facebook group. Thank you. https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002