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What is the CALM Art Collective?

The CALM Art Collective brings together artists and art lovers to explore life issues, wellbeing and mental health through the medium of art – creating, sharing, chatting and campaigning. But why?

Art. We’ve been doing it for millennia. It's our first form of visual communication. Ancient humans made cave paintings and sang and danced before we could speak. The creative impulse is fundamental to the experience of being human. It connects individual experience to collective understanding and shared meaning.

It helps us get through tough times and deal with difficult emotions. It can bring us together, or it can give us the space and time we need to reflect and switch off. These effects are stronger when creators and art lovers can connect around a unified purpose, progress their craft, and build relationships.

More and more evidence shows that enjoying and engaging with art can have a positive impact, with one study showing that a whopping 82% of people improved their health and wellbeing after taking part in art programmes.

That’s why we’ve set up the CALM Art Collective — a community of artists and art lovers coming together to embrace creativity, explore self expression, and, tbh, just have a good time.

Our CEO Simon Gunning, put it this way:
Communities are a brilliant way of connecting our supporters – online and offline – through their interests and in a way that’s conducive to good health. The CALM Art Collective takes us into a really interesting space. Art and creativity can be a great medium which doesn’t just bring a lot of joy and satisfaction but can also help articulate difficult feelings, process thoughts, and reduce isolation. The creative process can have hugely positive effects on our mental health and wellbeing, even more so when the creation, or appreciation of it, is as part of a wider like-minded community.

Artists of the moment and new CALM Ambassadors The Connor Brothers’ are no stranger to art’s ability to bring people together. Both James and Mike have been through difficult times, including addiction and suicidal thoughts.

One half of the duo, Mike Snelle, explains how art has helped.
"It has been an incredible and transformative experience on so many levels — for our friendship, in understanding ourselves and other people, in being heard and understood and expressing ourselves. It feels like it gives us a solid foundation to make things.

There is a weird and reliable relationship between the person making a thing and the thing being made. It feels that process is really grounding in some slightly mystical way. Everyone should make stuff.”

Poet and artist Gommie agrees. Gommie began ‘scribbling’ during a tough time, and found the process of creating and sharing poems helped him to cope.

He explains:
“Making art and sharing art has changed my life in a way I never would have guessed. It began as a cry for help. I was suffering and I did not know who to talk to or how to get better, so I began scribbling on pieces of paper and posting these scribbles online. This became a routine that turned into a sort of medicine. It was never art, not really, it was more therapy.”

But being the ‘arty’ type isn’t a requirement to finding joy or release from creativity, and is something Gommie never identified with: “I was never particularly creative. Or at least I never felt it. I always saw the creative people as the ones with berets, big folders and studios. I was wrong.

“Creativity is the willingness to be vulnerable and share. Asking for help is the most creative thing I've ever done. It has allowed me to change the narrative of the way I used to think. And that goes way beyond an easel and brush.”

Want in?

It’s pretty simple. Sign up to be part of the CALM Art Collective and you’ll receive a regular newsletter with some smashing highlights from across the network, quarterly creative briefs, and access to exclusive events and exhibitions. Not to mention new mates, mentors and bucket loads of inspiration. There’ll be online discussions over on our Facebook group, as well as IRL meet ups and showcases.

Connect, converse, collaborate and campaign – for a life less miserable.

The CALM Art Collective will launch officially at the Other Art Fair exhibition on July 4. The event will showcase a series of artworks on the theme of mental health, as well as a panel discussion with renowned artists The Connor Brothers, Gommie and CALM CEO, Simon Gunning.

Sign up here.