The Arts Bar’s Wellness Weekend invites all to an exhibition at the end of Mental Health Awareness Week

Kathleen Charters

Arts Bar Hope Street prides itself on providing a creative space for all kinds of artists but as their curator Laura McCann explains, “We don’t only champion artists, we also want to highlight issues we feel passionately about”. That is certainly the case in the instance of the wellness weekend being held on the 20th and 21st of May, which marks the end of Mental Health Awareness Week.

When asked about the event Laura said, “Every artist I’ve ever worked with has told me how their practice has a positive impact on their mental wellbeing, so I’m really happy to be celebrating how art can have a positive impact on peoples lives”

The weekend pop up will feature three visual artists, Amy Cummings, Kathleen Charters and Alisha Friday.

Amy Cummings is freelance illustrator from Cardiff who’s currently based in Liverpool. Her main body of work consists of abstract illustration using geometric shapes, bright colours and patterns. Amy says her pieces for this event are “loosely based on representations of mental states but that they primarily designed to bring joy to the viewer”. Amy hand paints each of her designs and describes her practice as “a very therapeutic process”.

For the last 35 years Kathleen Charters has worked in Liverpool for a health and wellbeing charity, with a focus on HIV. During that time Kathleen has experienced a great deal of loss but thankfully she’s found ways to process that, which has been crucial to her mental wellbeing and often involved exploring the art and culture of other countries. When travel wasn’t possible during the pandemic, Kath started to create her own pieces and a whole new world opened up to her. Eventually Kath shared her work online and found people to be really supportive, as she explains, “Where there was enforced separation, I was finding community”. Kathleen talks openly about how her practice helps her mental state saying, “it helps me figure out frustration, celebrate the simple things and mostly, to be quiet”.

Alisha Friday is a freelance visual artist, who first moved to Liverpool to study Fine Art at LJMU. Since graduating in 2016, aside from producing her own work, she’s also worked as a community artist, running events and workshops for vulnerable and marginalised people. Alisha’s work has always been informed by race, identity and mental health but the latter became even more important after facing her own personal experience with psychosis, which first occurred whilst she was pregnant in 2020. Alisha has always known art has been beneficial to her mental wellbeing but says her tastes and practice has changed and since becoming a mother. Now she’s a mum of two her time is far more limited, as Alisha explains, “rather than focus on the outcome, I experiment more with colour and composition, playing and working more intuitively”.

In addition to the visual art on display, creative horticulturalist Steph, founder of Foru Plants will be attending the event, selling edible plants, sharing free seeds and giving advice on how to cultivate plants at home. Joe Dillon, guitarist with Liverpool band “Hushtones”, will also be providing a sound track via his vinyl collection on Sunday the 21st and delicious pastries, (including vegan options), will be available from local bakery, “The Butterholic”.   

Everyone involved in the project hopes that the event will encourage others to speak more openly about their own mental health and perhaps consider trying art and music as a way to support their own mental wellbeing. The exhibition will run over two days on the 20th and 21st of May from 12-5pm at Arts Bar Hope Street. Entry is free. For more information go to