Learning from experience

'Connection I' (detail) by Norie Hatakeyama. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection. © the artist
'Connection I' (detail) by Norie Hatakeyama. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection. © the artist

The LENS group is a critical friend to the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance. It is a collective of people who have experienced the value of creativity and culture in tackling complexities in their own health and wellbeing. We have spoken to some of the LENS' members and share their responses and thoughts about covid-19 below.

An interview with Gilly Angell

Gilly is a founding member of the LENS, responsible for much of the early work to bring the group together. Here she discusses her own long experience of isolation in response to her own health issues, and what she has learnt from the experience. …if you’ve self-isolated over years as I’ve done, you do slow down to a very, very different pace. This page has both a recording of Gilly, with some original music and a written interview.

Tony Fisher

Tony Fisher is a photographer based in rural Derbyshire. He has started a madcovid diary, sharing images and thoughts.When the lockdown came in I was already working on a three-year project on loneliness and isolation funded by Arts Council England, so some of the work I’m doing now will be added for exhibitions when this is over, though isolation/loneliness in its broadest sense will not end.

Listen to Tony sharing the story behind his photo, 'At the Boundry', that features in Historic England's The Picturing Lockdown Collection here.

Mah Rana

'Creating well-making spaces builds our resilience, disperses anxiety and helps us to find ways of coping with in unexpected situations such as the Coronavirus lockdown.'

Mah is a researcher, artist & maker, filmmaker, writer and curator.  Alongside being a LENS champions for London, she is also an ambassador for Dementia Carers Count and a member of the Stitching Together network (to name a few). In this blog, Mah reflects on her own experiences as a carer and how the ritual of creating well-making spaces and crafting together signals the focus towards a mindful connection to the moment, each other and ourselves.

Shanali Perera

Shanali is a digital artist based in Manchester. She uses colour as a method to capture and portray energies surrounding pain, fatigue and her everyday, living with illness in an attempt to objectify the subjective. Isolation is subjective. Given the surrounding gloom during this scary unsettling time, Shanali started a twitter discussion, #MakeIsolationBright, inviting people to give a colour and shape to isolation and share photos/artwork/thoughts around this, creating to connect and to keep humour alive.


Kelly McCormack

"We now speak in a time of Covid19 – where the acting is on hold but I still have creative discussions about future projects. Where events are not running but more thought is being put into what a future delegate wants. And where dancing in studios has stopped but not in the household. I feel very grateful to have spoken and listened to some amazing, tutors, teachers and creatives during this time that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do prior."

Sue Flowers

Alongside her practice as an artist and Co-founder/Director of Green Close a non-for-profit arts organisation in North Lancashire, Sue is a LENS Champion for the North West.  In a guest blog, A Creative Perspective, Sue shares her thoughts on the role of creativity and nature connectedness as she wrestles with the anxiety, rage and restrictions that a pandemic brings.

A Second Voice... Vikki Parker

Alongside being the South East LENs champion, Vikki Parker is an intuitive artist, energy healer & mental health advocate. She is the founder of Doodle Cafe, a mindful doodling process for practising presence, connecting with intuition & embracing your creative flow.  She is also the host of the podcast 'Art Yourself Alive'  that launched during Creativity and Wellbeing Week 2022. This blog speaks about the project and how it is rooted in her own lived experience and seeks to amplify the stories of others.