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Winter School 2018

Is creativity good for our health and wellbeing?


Are you committed to the arts for health and wellbeing and interested in exploring why creative processes might be good for us? 

In 2018 we worked together over two days, facilitated by lead artist, Sarah Desmarais, and lead researcher, Professor Paul Dieppe. This two-day pilot was intended to inform plans for a ‘Winter School’ for arts and health research in future years. It is part of Arts & Health South West’s Arts Council Catalyst Evolve funded learning programme and has been funded by the Fine Family Foundation.


Sarah Desmarais facilitated creative activities in response to the natural environment of Durlston Country Park. Sarah is a textile designer maker, crafts researcher, arts facilitator and mindfulness-based psychotherapist. She is very experienced at creative facilitation with people who have a wide range of artistic experience, including none! 



Durlston image



Programme (Archive)

Wednesday 21st March: late afternoon/evening arrive at the Mount in Swanage www.themountswanage.co.uk

Evening meal together for everyone involved.


Thursday 22nd March: Day at Durlston Country Park.

Evening meal together for everyone involved.


Friday 23rd March: Day at Durlston Country Park.

4pm Depart


Accommodation was be provided. You can see from the room layout at the Mount that most bedrooms are twins. Participants were be asked to share a room (same sex): http://www.themountswanage.co.uk/accommodation . We provided food and asked participants to join in with helping prepare and clear up meals.

Participants were responsible for their own travel and insurance.


Who applied

Participants were based in the South West region.


  • 2 artists, experienced in arts and health delivery and keen to develop their understanding of research
  • 2 healthcare professionals who have a particular interest in arts and health
  • 2 researchers, at any stage of their career but with a particular interest in arts and health


It was FREE to participate in this pilot year.


Criteria for Selection:

Most importantly, a commitment and interest in creativity and the arts for health and wellbeing.


  • Healthcare professionals should be able to explain why they are interested in this area of practice and research and how participation would impact on their working practice.
  • Artists should have practical experience of delivering arts and health projects and be able to explain why they would benefit from this opportunity to explore research methodologies
  • Researchers should have some experience of working in this field or be interested in pursuing it. PhD students can apply.



The Team

Alex Coulter, Director of Arts & Health South West, will manage the logistics for the winter school and participate in the activities.


Dr Sarah Desmarais, Artist,will lead the creative participation

Sarah is a textile designer maker, crafts researcher, arts facilitator and mindfulness-based psychotherapist. From a research perspective, Sarah has researched the benefits of crafts practice for mental health in partnership with Arts for Health Cornwall and Falmouth University. At present she is undertaking practice-based research working with Japanese katagami (paper stencils) held by the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture at Middlesex University.  She is also artist in residence in a Raw Materials: Textiles project at Bow Arts, London, which explores the textile heritage of the Lea River Valley and its relevance to local communities.   Alongside these practice-based projects, she is carrying out qualitative research with the National Alliance for Museums, Health & Wellbeing at University College London, and supervising doctoral research at the Royal College of Art.


Paul Dieppe, Emeritus Professor of Health and Wellbeing and Trustee of Arts & Health South West,will lead the research planning

Paul qualified as a doctor in London in 1970 and specialised in rheumatology. He became ARC professor of rheumatology in Bristol in 1987, and then Dean of the Bristol Faculty of Medicine between 1994 and 1997. He then switched to health services research and was the Director of the MRC Health Services Research Collaboration between 1997 and 2007. After that he spent a short time at the University of Exeter before moving to the Peninsular Medical School to work in clinical education research. With the formation of the new Exeter Medical School, Paul then took on the new role of Professor of Health and Wellbeing, and is working on setting up a network of people in and around Exeter with academic interests in health and wellbeing. He is also doing a part-time PhD on healing.


Philippa Forsey, Trustee of Arts & Health South West, will support the participants and help with facilitation.

Philippa Forsey joined Creativity Works in 2004 and is responsible for arts project management across community and wellbeing programmes. Working alongside health teams, arts organisations, education, artists and community she develops inclusive creative programmes, consultation and evaluation linked to community and wellbeing outcomes and progression. Philippa trained in art and design and has facilitated creative sessions since 2002. Personal development in arts and health led to training with Attik Dance, Insider Arts, Open To All and Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment which influences her approach. She is also a fully trained yoga teacher which brings a holistic vision to her practice.



More Information

Please download this PDF for a copy of the information about the 2018 Winter School: AHSW Winter School Information Jan 2018





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