For a thriving community like Lewes, having access to the Arts is hugely important.
One woman who knows the full value of such and can articulate it marvellously is Suzie Hennegrave, who tells CommunityAd “Art elevates our everyday experiences and makes us happier.
“It promotes expression and creativity; we are naturally drawn to art as a form of expression. It also provides a historical context for a community and leads to healthy and thoughtful cultural discussions. It can be controversial or ground-breaking and has the potential to spark debate leading to social change. Art also gives us places to gather as a community. Fine art showings, such as Lewes Artwave, theatre productions and live music, provide opportunities to gather with people from other walks of life”.
Suzie has lived in Lewes since 2001 and identifies as an AFB (across from Brighton) rather than a DFL (down from London). Having studied Fashion and Textiles at Brighton University she knows what a thriving art community can do for a place adding “Art boosts tourism too, providing unique economic opportunities leading to jobs, revenue, and areas of growth. On a more personal level, participation in the arts can help young people with language, motor skills and visual learning development and can act as therapy too. It can help children (and adults) cope with their circumstances both past and present and improves mood. Art can help all of us develop soft skills, such as creative thinking and ability to adapt to change, which makes us better workers in our community”.
CommunityAd had the pleasure of speaking to Suzie about the benefits of art on one’s mental health, the brilliant Art Hub she runs and about Lewes, a place she has a lot of love for.
To those readers unaware what is the Arts Hub all about?
Art Hub Lewes is a provider of art classes for children and adults. It aims to help everyone to get creative and exceed their artistic expectations. A wide range of inspirational activities and events are on offer from workshops for schools to after school classes, holiday clubs, arty parties, adult lessons, private tuition, forest school art activities and exhibitions. We have become one, big, supportive, creative family and have so much fun together.
A lot of people during the darkest days of the pandemic took up a new creative hobby in aid of distracting themselves from the doom and gloom, why do you think creative endeavour no matter what form it takes is so important for the human spirit and one’s mental health?
Art and mental health have a very positive connection. Artistic activities such as sculpting, painting, or drawing are known to lower stress levels and promote mental calmness. It takes your mind off your everyday life and provides a relaxing distraction. Your brain gets into a mental flow when creating art; worries are set aside as you focus on the detail of the art you are creating. As the writer and theologian Thomas Merton put it: ‘’Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.’’ Creating art boosts self-esteem and provides a sense of accomplishment too. It produces dopamine, which makes people feel good, increases drive, and improves concentration.
What makes it such a wonderful community to be a part of?
Lewes is liberal and has a great spirit of independence. It has a significant history stretching back to Saxon times. It is home to a huge number of creative people and there is always so much happening for a town of its size. It boasts many independent and quirky shops and great pubs. It also has several working breweries, with new ones popping up all the time. It is nestled in the beautiful South Downs National Park and there could not be a lovelier place to live.
Are there any dates readers should be taking note of?
Keep an eye on the studio timetable on the Art Hub Lewes website for future classes and events. An exhibition of the children’s work, Christmas craft making sessions for all the family and Christmas holiday clubs as well as the usual after school and home education classes are all being planned.