Atlas to Recovery is a participatory arts project facilitated by B arts and Rideout during January, February and March 2023. Five lead artists were paired with five community groups in Stoke-on-Trent and tasked with creating a series of large scale maps charting participants’ lived experience of recovery from poor mental health. Participants included autistic adults from Rideout’s Social Agency project, people with experience of mental health and/or substance misuse services from Growthpoint and the Changes Music Group, women asylum seekers from ASHA, and members of the B arts Climate Cafe Advisory Group and the ArtsHill Volunteer Performer Group.
The initial stimulus for the style of the work was medieval mappae mundi, the most famous of which is at Hereford Cathedral. The process of creating the maps involved artists working with participants over a series of six sessions to create the content and design for the maps. These designs were then realised by the lead artists; Emily Andrews, Dan Higgs, Andrea Joseph and Siobhan Mcaleer, in a week long intensive which exhibited at the B arts building in Stoke at the beginning of April. In addition to creating maps, the Changes Music Group worked with sound designer James Earls-Davis to create an ambient soundtrack to accompany the final exhibit. Furthermore, each map contains buttons that, when pressed, trigger samples of participants giving additional commentary to their experiences of recovery.
“One of the best exhibitions I can remember going to – a real privilege to experience, witness and absorb. Such variety and uniqueness to the work, yet so many threads of connection, unity and ‘oneness’. Loved zooming into all the details and micro beauties, then zooming out to view the ‘whole’ – made me think of how we are all fragmented and multiplicity always comes within an unbreakable Core One wholeness. Such wonderful use of colour, texture, words – adored it. Take it on tour!!!! Thank you to all involved. “Sometimes there is no map” – Thank you.”
We are currently working with B arts to explore options for sharing this work further.