How will you mark World Art Day on 15 April? Perhaps by looking at a familiar painting you know and like, or maybe by discovering new styles and traditions. Perhaps by looking only, or maybe by getting out paints and pens yourself as well.
Like so many of these special, named weeks and days which crowd the calendar, World Art Day is an opportunity to raise awareness and to celebrate. It highlights the visual arts in all their variety – but it also feels like an opportunity to think more about art across the world, and how its immense diversity might enhance wellbeing. Art has such benefits for wellbeing in any case, so widening your enjoyment of art globally could be doubly beneficial.
One of art’s great benefits is the stimulus it provides, looking at artworks and maybe experimenting with the styles or media you see. Obviously everyone is different, and a lot depends on the issues behind anxiety or depression. But I know from my own experience of anxiety that stimulus to occupy the mind can really help, lessening the likelihood of overthinking and a slide into anxiety.
Art is not only a strong visual stimulus, seeing colours and forms, but also opens up other thoughts and discoveries. Many people love travelling, exploring new countries and ways of life. Art opens a window on the world from your own home.
You could focus on one art movement or style from each continent – such as Kikuyu patterns from Kenya for Africa, or Japanese prints or carved soapstone from India for Asia. Enjoy looking at different examples and find out how they are made. You might like to try drawing, painting or crafting in some of the styles yourself.
Many of the world art traditions I’ve discovered recently and particularly like tend to be decorative arts, such as intricate colourful tiles from Morocco, Tanzanian Shoowa textiles or floral textiles from Poland. I like colourful millefiori designs as well, born out of the tradition of glass-blowing in northern Italy. The word “millefiori” translates as “a thousand flowers” and they are gem-like. You could compare decorative arts from the Uk too, like Fair Isle knits or willow weaving from the Somerset Levels. Or look at folk art, which inspires painting and decorative arts alike, such as American quilts, rugs, other textiles and samplers. Some traditions continue to thrive in the present day, to change and develop. Others have become heritage. Online, it’s easy to discover more about them and to uncover new worlds of creativity.
It would be great to hear what world art traditions you enjoy or want to find out about – just share in either of Medley’s Facebook groups, the Medley group on wellbeing in general https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 or the Think Art group on art and wellbeing https://www.facebook.com/groups/244072321150998/